Persian Pomegranate Soup

January 23, 2018
5 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Serves 6-8
Author Notes

Pomegranate soup starts out like a classic chunky bean soup recipe, with browned onions, garlic, beans, and barley, all cooked in stock. But then all of a sudden, the ingredients screech off the familiar path into wild territory, with cumin, turmeric, dried mint, and most exotic, tart ruby pomegranate syrup, following one after the other into the pot. This is a vegetarian pomegranate soup, a deliciously unfancy Iranian dish that’s probably been around since the domestication of pomegranates.

Luckily, these days, you can find pomegranate molasses not only in Middle Eastern grocery stores, but in gourmet and natural markets as well. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, you can always buy the juice, which is widely available, and cook it down into a syrup.

Whenever I cook with pomegranate molasses, I prefer to use brands that don’t contain sugar, because I like the pure taste of the fruit on its own and I prefer to control the amount of sweetener that gets added, but unsweetened molasses can be harder to come by. If you can’t find pomegranate in any form, a generous splash of lemon or lime will lift up the earthy flavors of beans and barley. To find dried mint, you will likely need to visit an Indian or Arabic market, or seek it out online; it’s a magical ingredient that imparts food with a savory herbal flavor, sweeter than parsley and more pronounced and fragrant than coriander.

Once you have all of the ingredients, this is an easy recipe. Like any hearty winter soup or stew, this dish gets better the longer it sits, so if possible, make it the day before serving.

Featured In: Pomegranate Stars in This Homey, Vibrant Bean SoupLouisa Shafia

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for topping
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup yellow split peas
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup mung beans
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 1 large beet, diced small
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 12 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1 bunch chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup labne or thick yogurt
  • Seeds of 1 pomegranate
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat and cook the onion for about 10 minutes until it starts to brown, stirring often. Add the garlic, beans, barley, beets, spices, and 2 teaspoons salt. Stir well with the cooked onions, then add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours, until the beans and barley are tender.
  2. While the soup is still simmering, stir in the dried mint and pomegranate molasses, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm topped with a splash of olive oil (if you like) and a dollop of yogurt, and a generous scattering of cilantro and pomegranate seeds.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Peggy Griswold
    Peggy Griswold
  • bells
  • Deborah
  • Jc
My cookbook The New Persian Kitchen is a winner of Food52's Piglet award. I love cooking Iranian rice and hearing people crunch on the crispy tahdig from the bottom of the pot. I'm passionate about sharing the ingredients and techniques for making Persian food in my writing, cooking classes, and online store, Feast By Louisa where you can find my Persian Spice Set, Tahdig Kit, and other goodies.

6 Reviews

bells February 20, 2024
Love this soup. Made one batch and divided it into 4 variations. Added a bit of flour to thicken, didn't have mung beans used quinoa instead. Original soup #1 vegetarian #2 with precooked meatballs #3 with spinach #4 with red kidney beans or you can combine all of them for fabulous flavor!!
Deborah December 16, 2022
This soup is delicious! I used chicken stock instead of vegetable because that’s what I had on hand. Since I didn’t have the mung beans, I bought and used mung sprouts and they added a nice crunch. Initially I found it a bit tart and, since I made it right after Thanksgiving, I added a a tablespoon of fresh cranberry sauce to my first bowl and found that the sweetness mixed well with it. After the soup sat overnight, the tartness seemed to lessen and it didn’t need that extra sweetness.
Jc December 7, 2022
I really enjoyed this. It is eminently adaptable as one can see from the modifications expressed by everyone. I had no lentils so I substituted garbanzo beans. Because of that addition, I soaked all the legumes and barley overnight.
I had only a taste of pomegranate molasses left so I added a cup of cranberries and some very tart plum jam.

Delicious and filling. I may add some stock when I reheat the leftovers so it is more like soup than stew.
Peggy G. December 4, 2022
Yummy soup.
I have a fun chef suggestion I am going to try.
Make the soup with a cranberry molasses.😇
Lynette H. December 3, 2022
I would like to try this but have a question. I get dried mint at my local health food store and they have peppermint and spearmint. Which s the preferred flavor of mint for the recipe?
Robin February 21, 2018
The recipe author is correct, at first this started out as the blandest, most uninspired barley/lentil mess imaginable. But oh man, add that pomengranate molasses, that mint! that glorious mint! and the whole thing becomes the most unusual but addicting soup ever. I stood over my dutch oven constantly having to taste it, and as I ladled in my mason jars for safekeeping and our soup supper deliveries, I thought the small town only eat white bread people would need mops for the brain explosions this soup was going to cause in their eat in kitchens.
A few tweaks of course:
reduced the salt a bit, mostly for health reasons but also because I almost compensated with some Saltopia smoky salt, just a pinch or two though.
Added frozen chopped spinach for some greens, no one in my soup kitchen deliveries gets enough vegetables.
Did not have all the dried mint, so I subbed in a few minced fresh mint leaves from the kitchen sill, it harmed the soup not one bit.
And lastly, in small-town Minnesota, you can bet I had to make my own pomegranate molasses, which I highly recommend!

perfect with some crusty warm bread, a slice or two of good cheese on the side, and a glass of red wine or white, and a nice vegetarian supper is to be had by all.

Also, the cost, outside of the pomengrante juice was not prohibitly expensive. I paid 2.50 for some POM Wonderful, but in hindsight since pomengranate molasses is so good and can be used for so many other things, I am going back for the RW Knudeson 5.28 jug later and make a vat of the stuff!