Aush (Afghan Noodle Soup)

Aush, Afghan soup with noodles, chickpeas, spinach and ground meat with a check napkin

This is a recipe that I’ve had on the blog for a while, but decided to pull it out of the archives. It’s a soup I learned from my friend Humaira, who learned it from her mom, Jeja. This post is in memory of Jeja, who recently lost her battle to COVID. She lives on through her children and grandchildren, and through her wonderful recipes. This Wednesday, I will be doing a demo of how to make this wonderful soup on Instagram. Follow me there. 

When I get a taste of something delicious, I need to know how to make it and can be dogged in my pursuit of a recipe. Such was the case with this soup. I first tried it at a school potluck where it was drawing raves at the buffet line. Two bowls in and I was smitten. I’d never eaten anything quite like it before and had to know how to make it in my own kitchen.

A Soup Called Aush

After a few inquiries, I was introduced to Humaira, the cook behind the soup. Humaira told me that aush is a traditional dish from her native Afghanistan. She said the soup is as common in her home country as chicken noodle is in mine. A few days later, she emailed me the recipe. I’ve been making aush and swapping recipes with Humaira ever since. We’ve been good friends now for 15 years and counting. Now that’s some soup!

Aush, an Afghan noodle soup with chickpeas, spinach, ground meat, and yogurt with a spoon and checked napkin

Simple Ingredients

What’s special about aush is how it brings together fairly humble ingredients in an unusual way. It starts with a brothy base punctuated by noodles, chickpeas, and kidney beans. Each bowl is topped with a savory, nearly caramelized spoonful of ground beef or lamb, the rich flavors bleeding into the broth. The final touch is a generous dollop of yogurt. The various components marry into a creamy, tangy, “want to lick the bowl clean” sort of soup.

Seasoned Ground Beef or Lamb

I prefer ground lamb in aush, although beef is more traditional. Whatever you choose, it’s essential to cook the meat long enough for the flavors to develop and the color to reach a deep, dark brown.

As for the addition of dark leafy greens in the soup, that’s not exactly traditional. But it is tasty and makes the soup a complete meal in my book.

Although aush was a foreign concept to my crew before I started making it, everyone gives it a thumbs up. It also fills the bill for some pretty conventional American occasions: It makes a superb one-pot supper when feeding a crowd, is a good alternative to lasagna when delivering a meal to a friend with a new baby, and of course, it’s perfect for a class pot luck. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself a new friend with this recipe. It’s just that sort of soup.

Aush, Afghan noodle soup with chickpeas, spinach, yogurt, and ground meat in a bowl with a spoon and a checked napkin

For more Afghan recipes you might like

Afghan Spinach with Dill and Yogurt (Sabzi)

Turmeric Braised Chicken in Yogurt (Lawang)

Any of the recipes on Afghan Cooking Unveiled

Aush, an Afghan noodle soup with chickpeas, spinach, ground meat, and yogurt with a spoon and checked napkin
5 from 2 votes
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Aush: Savory Afghan Noodle Soup

This soup has three components: noodley broth, seasoned ground lamb, and yogurt. Don't worry, it's not complicated, or spicy. The ingredients get assembled in individual serving bowls just before you set them on the table. Stir in the yogurt and tuck right in.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Afghan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6
Author katiemorford

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to season the broth if needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 7 ounces uncooked spaghetti (doesn't need to be exact)
  • 10 cups chicken broth (low-sodium if store-bought)
  • One 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and strained
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and strained
  • 1 large bunch swiss chard or kale, stems removed, roughly chopped or a few big handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 pint plain Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Sauté the onion in olive oil in a medium skillet on medium-low heat until tender and golden. Add the garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the ground lamb and use a spoon to break it up as it cooks so it is small, loose, and separated (like taco meat). If the cooked lamb produces a lot of oil, drain it off.
  2. Once the meat is browned add the coriander, paprika, salt, pepper, tomato paste, and water. Mix everything well, drop heat to low, and continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes until it is a deep, reddish brown and infused with flavor.
  3. 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. Add the beans and chard/kale to the broth and continue to cook until the pasta is done. Taste and add salt to taste, as needed

  4. To assemble, put two ladles of noodles and broth into each serving bowl. Top with 2 spoonfuls of lamb. Finish with 1 or 2 spoonfuls of yogurt.
  5. To eat, give each bowl a stir and enjoy.

Comments

02.22.2012 at 10:30 AM #

Leslie

I signed up to deliver a Circle of Friends meal in a few weeks. I think I will make this! 🙂

02.22.2012 at 10:30 AM #

katiemorford

It sounds right up your alley, Spring

02.22.2012 at 10:30 AM #

katiemorford

Good for you for doing that. Be sure to pack noodles and broth in one container, lamb in another and the container of yogurt separately.

02.22.2012 at 12:29 PM #

Spring

I’ll be making this tonight! sounds terrific!

02.22.2012 at 6:17 PM #

Suzanne

Love this, Katie! Thanks for the yummy post and for the printer friendly tab!

02.23.2012 at 1:06 PM #

Humaira

Katie,We had aush last night. A great end to a full day of skiing. Even the pickiest eaters in our group loved it.

02.26.2012 at 4:30 PM #

Alison

Sounds delicious. Can I make this a few hours ahead of time or would the noodles get soggy?

02.26.2012 at 4:30 PM #

katiemorford

Yes, you can definitely make this ahead. The noodles may soften a bit and absorb some of the broth. If it seems too heavy in noodles, just add a little more broth when you heat up the soup to serve it.

03.12.2012 at 3:56 PM #

Charlotte

Made this the other night and it was delicious. My husband was skeptical and now he has already asked me to make it again!

03.12.2012 at 3:56 PM #

katiemorford

So glad it got the hubby’s stamp of approval!

03.14.2018 at 9:27 PM #

Jen

I know I’m about 6 years too late to comment but i just had to tell you that I’ve made this recipe several times. My boyfriend (who’s from Afghanistan) asks for it on the regular! Instead of chard, we add a small handful of fresh mint and cilantro on top just before serving. Thanks for this super delish recipe!

03.14.2018 at 9:27 PM #

katiemorford

Thanks for taking the time to share that with me. It’s the highest compliment that your boyfriend approves 🙂

03.25.2021 at 9:37 AM #

TJ

I love all your Afghan recipes! I lived there for 8 years so these recipes give me a good taste of my other home.

03.25.2021 at 9:37 AM #

katiemorford

That’s wonderful to hear. Thank you. Check out the site https://www.afghancultureunveiled.com/ for lots of Afghan recipes!

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