This Vegan Ash, or a thick Persian soup, derives its flavor from a bounty of herbs. In this version, we used two bunches of parsley, two bunches of cilantro, and fresh mint. Traditionally, ash is served with lamb meatballs. See, e.g., a Persian cuisine blog. For our vegan version, we use walnut-mint pesto instead of meat. To highlight the nutty flavor, we use black wild rice (from Canada) instead of regular short-grain rice. We adore how the flavors from walnuts, herbs and black wild rice dance together in this soup. In addition, black wild rice is exceptionally rich in antioxidants and low in carbs. Research has shown that a spoonful of black rice bran contains more anthocyanins (a powerful antioxidant found in blueberries) than a spoonful of blueberries. See Dr. Andrew Weil.
Nonetheless, if that's what you prefer, you can make Vegan Ash with just a regular long- or short-grain rice. Our version of this soup is inspired by Naomi Duigud's recipe "Pomegranate Ash with Meatballs" published in Taste of Persia 107 (2016), also available on Kindle: Taste of Persia (Kindle version). Finally, note that Vegan Ash involves largely passive cooking. This soup will happily simmer while you are working from home or spending time with your family.
In a large pot, warm up organic olive oil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Add cinnamon and turmeric and stir. Then add onion and cook until translucent, for about 7 to 10 minutes.
Next, add split peas and black wild rice and stir. Add 8 cups of water. On high heat, bring to boil. Then reduce heat to low and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the split peas and rice are tender.
In the meantime, make the walnut pesto. In a food process, finely chop walnuts and mint leaves. You can add organic olive oil if needed for blending.
Add walnut/mint pesto, cilantro, parsley, chives (if using), and salt (to taste) to the soup. Add another cup of water or more (if needed). On high heat, bring to boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for another 30 minutes.
Serve Vegan Ash warm with your favorite crackers. This wonderful soup is light and satisfying at the same time.