My first taste of homemade Afghan food was this soup. It was at a school potluck; I inhaled two generous bowlfuls, leaving the rest of the buffet untouched. It’s also the first Afghan dish I ever cooked myself. The soup is called aush (pronounced “osh” as in Oshkosh). It’s easy to make and a wonderful recipe to get acquainted with Afghan cooking.
Aush has three components: chicken broth with noodles, chick peas and kidney beans; gobsmackingly tasty ground beef seasoned with coriander and paprika; and plain yogurt. The three elements remain separate until just before serving. It’s done “a la minute” as my brother, the chef , might say, whereby each person does up their own bowl how they like it. The first few times I made it I threw everything together in one big pot and set it on the table. I have since learned the proper Afghan way. Humaira keeps me in check.
I will confess to adding my own, very unauthentic addition to the recipe. I stir a bunch of roughly chopped chard or kale into the broth around the same time I add the chick peas and kidney beans. It makes it pretty and extra nourishing.
Winter is the perfect season for making aush. In my house it’s become a staple for ski weekends when hot, hearty soups are just the call. I imagine we are among few families up in Tahoe eating Afghan food after a day on the slopes.
The soup is unusual, delicious and kind of addictive. Look what it’s done to me. I started out with aush four years ago, and now I’m writing a blog devoted entirely to Afghan food. Beware.
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef (ground lamb or turkey can be substituted)
1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. tomato paste mixed with 2 tbsp. hot water
8 oz uncooked spaghetti
10 cups chicken broth
1 15 oz. can kidney beans
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 bunch swiss chard or kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 pint plain yogurt
Dried mint (optional)
Saute the onion in olive oil in a non-stick frying pan on low heat until tender and golden. Add the garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and use a spoon to break it up as it cooks so it is small, loose and separated (like taco meat). Once the beef is browned add the coriander, paprika, salt, pepper and tomato paste/water. Mix everything well and continue to cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes until it is a deep reddish brown and infused with flavor.
While the meat is cooking, pour the chicken broth into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti and boil for 5 minutes. Empty the beans into a colander and rinse with water. Add the beans and chard/kale to the broth and continue to cook until the pasta is done.
To assemble, put to ladles of noodles and broth and 2 spoonfuls of meet into a soup bowl. Finish with 1 or 2 spoonfuls of yogurt on top and sprinkle with dried mint. Give a stir and eat.
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