According to Iranian legend, this soothing caramelised onion soup – known as Eshkeneh in Farsi – is an ancient dish that was fed to soldiers fighting under the Parthian King Arsaces in the third century B.C to give them power and strength in battle. Some Iranian housewives also claim it is the perfect soup for healing a broken heart, so clearly somewhere along the way
the recipe has collected magic powers! The soup’s unique flavour comes from the dried fenugreek leaf (sometimes labelled ‘methi’ in stores), with its light spiciness and notes of curry leaf. You can find it in the Asian/world food section of most supermarkets or in any Indian or Middle Eastern stores. As with all onion soups, the secret to making a tasty batch is to cook the onions long and slow, so take your time with this bit. Serve with some crusty bread.
2 tbsp sunflower oil
4 medium onions (around 400g), finely sliced into half-moons
2 tbsp cornflour
1.2 litres good-quality vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp dried mint
2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaf
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 small eggs
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley, to garnish
Sea salt and black pepper
Melt the butter with a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add the onions and stir well to coat the onions in the oil, then season with a little salt. Gently fry for 30–40 minutes over a low heat, stirring
occasionally, until the onions are golden brown and caramelised. If the onions start to dry out, add another glug of oil.
Add the cornflour and fry for 2 minutes more.
Add the stock, all the spices, the mint and fenugreek leaf and the lemon juice and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt and black pepper to your taste. Then break each egg into a cup and slide into the simmering soup to poach. Cover with a lid for a few minutes, until the egg whites are cooked but the
yolks are still a little runny.
Ladle into individual bowls, giving everyone an egg, and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley just before serving.