Persian onion and egg drop soup
Eshkeneh originates from the Khorasan region of Iran – the east side. My mother and her family are from Mashhad, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘capital of Khorasan’, so this soup was a regular feature in her childhood. There are many variations of the recipe for Eshkeneh. If you have tried it before, you may be more familiar with the version that results in a golden soup with flecks of green from the fenugreek leaves. One of the many variations is Eshkeneh made with the addition of tomatoes and this is the recipe I have shared below.
This soup reminds me of my Aunty on my mother’s side. She was a lovely, glamorous yet incredibly earthy and sassy woman. Before all these young women knew how to pose in photos to emphasise and de-emphasise certain parts of their body on social media, my Aunty was trailblazing in the 80’s with the hands on the hip pose for all Kodak moments.
She and her family lived with us on and off in my childhood and she was often the first face I would see in the morning, smiling and incredibly loving. She used to sing songs to me to emphasise how much she cared about me, changing the words in Persian pop songs to feature my name. A powerhouse of a personality whose loss we felt deeply and still do.
I remember the first time she introduced me to this soup. She had to convince the 8 year old me to give it a go. I was won over by the first spoonful. The combination of the tomatoes, fenugreek, onion, potatoes and egg were dreamy. It is a real winter warmer and an easy soup to knock up for a quick lunch or light dinner. As with all Persian food, leaving it a day allows for the flavours to intensify so don’t poach the eggs in the soup until you are ready to tuck into a bowl of it. Traditionally the eggs are cooked until the egg yolks are hard, but I like my eggs gooey so I cook them for about 2 minutes in the simmering soup.
For the Soup
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil / butter / ghee
- 1 large onion (finely diced)
- 1 clove garlic (crushed)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp dried fenugreek
- 1 large potato (finely diced - 1 cm cubes)
- 1 medium tomato (chopped)
- 600 mls water
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- A squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice
- 2 large free range eggs
For the Chive Oil Garnish
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- A handful of fresh chives
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- Take a medium size saucepan and place on a medium / high heat. Add the oil and then add the onion. Stir and cook the onion until translucent and starting to turn golden in colour.
- Add the garlic and stir.
- Add the turmeric and stir into the mixture.
- Add the tomato puree and stir until evenly distributed. Then add the fenugreek and stir into the mixture.
- Add the diced potato and stir gently for a few minutes, making sure the potatoes do not stick to the pan.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Then add the water. Once the soup starts to bubble lower the heat to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes minimum. Check in now and again to stir occasionally.
- Season according to taste.
- Place the olive oil, finely chopped fresh chives and lemon juice in a bowl and mix and put to one side to garnish the soup when ready to serve.
- Prior to serving, and when the soup is simmering, crack the eggs into the soup as far away as possible from each other so they don't merge. Poach 2 mins for soft; 4 mins for medium; and above 5 mins for hard. Turn off the heat and serve in bowls with the lemon and chive oil drizzled on top and flatbread to dip.