Onion soup

The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Alan Benson

Many versions of this soup are prepared in Iran. Basically it is a meatless soup with onion and a sour juice — lime, lemon, pomegranate or verjuice (the juice of unripened grapes) — as the principal ingredients, with the tartness counterbalanced by the addition of sugar. Sometimes apricots or sour cherries are used instead of fruit juice. Walnuts, spinach or diced potatoes are added to give substance.

In other words, the soup is composed of ingredients the cook might have on hand; once you have tried this version, experiment with other combinations.

The eggs, prepared in either of the two ways mentioned in the recipe, are essential.


Quantity Ingredient
5 onions
90g ghee
50g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
60g walnuts, finely chopped
or 130g spinach, finely chopped
or 360g potatoes, diced
125ml lime or lemon juice
95g brown sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 quantity Nano dok
2-6 eggs


  1. Cut the onions in half from top to bottom, then slice each half into semi-circles.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a heavy-based saucepan over medium—high heat. Add about 80 g of the onion slices and fry until brown and crisp. Remove and set aside for garnishing.
  3. Heat the remaining ghee in the pan and gently fry the remaining onion until translucent. Stir in the flour and cook until golden.
  4. Add the turmeric, and your choice of walnuts, spinach or potatoes. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in 1.25 litres water and cook until thickened and bubbling, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the lime or lemon juice and the sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the nano dok and stir it into the soup.
  7. Lightly beat two eggs and slowly pour them into the soup, stirring gently until the eggs set in shreds. Alternatively, break six eggs into the simmering soup, one at a time, and simmer gently until the eggs have set.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls; if using whole eggs, add one to each bowl. Garnish with the reserved browned onions and serve with flat bread.
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Middle Eastern
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