My soup is like a red, red rose...?: Rosehip soup

Dried rosehip pods, large and small, randomly fill a bowl. When hot water is added, the pods immediately become red, reviving the color with which they dot countless hillsides growing wild in the Caucasus summer.

Anna Manvelyan makes rose hip soup. “This food was called ‘msr matsun’ where I used to live.” It means rose hip purée. And Anna’s family “parts” is the Dashkesan region of Azerbaijan. She and her parents moved to the Gegharkunik province of Armenia in 1988.

Anna’s featured Armenian dish is made of dried or fresh rosehips with bulgur and flour added to the juice. Dried rosehip can be bought at markets. The tough, brilliant bulb – high in vitamins C,D and E – is used in tea and is known for its curative powers for ailments requiring an infusion of the vitamins. Rosehip is also used in treatment of arthritis.

Anna says it is necessary to sieve the soaked rosehip twice after cooking, in order to get a clean juice.

“The first step of preparing rosehip soup is covering (one kilo) rosehip with hot water. This must be done in the evening, and the water should be poured out in the morning. The rosehip staying in the water the whole night get soft. Then it is necessary to add three liters of water to the soaked rosehip and put the pan on the gas fire,” explains Anna, 46, repeating a recipe handed down to her.

“I continue our traditions and customs,” says Anna, whose family settled in the village of Pambak. “My mother and grandmother used to prepare this food, and now I prepare it for my children; and they like it very much.”

While Anna’s memories bubble to the surface, so, too, the rosehip bulbs jump in the boiling water. After 15 minutes, she removes the pot from the stove and leaves the juice to cool.

Cooled enough to handle, she puts the mass into a colander, and starts squeezing the softened rosehips with her hands. The bowl put under the colander fills with juice of the color of Bordeaux wine.

“We do not use the leftover (peel and seeds) in the colander. We must sieve the rosehip juice once again, this time by a colander with smaller holes,” Anna explains.

“Rosehip has a lot of small hair, if we do not sieve the juice twice, we might have an unpleasant feeling while eating the soup. So, it is necessary to sieve it twice by all means.” ("Itching powder”, a harmless prank popular among post WWII kids in the UK was made from rosehip fiber.)

After sieving the juice for the second time, it is necessary to pour it into a pan and put it on a gas fire again. This time two liters of water and two tablespoon of salt must be added to the sieved juice. When it starts boiling, a cup of bulgur is added.

“We let it boil for about ten minutes so that the bulgur gets cooked. When the bulgur is cooked, we put three tablespoons of flour and some water into a cup and carefully mix it until it is well blended. Then we add the mixture to the boiling soup, and keep on cooking it for an additional ten minutes. The rosehip soup is ready now,” Anna says.

The sweet smell of rosehip fills the room and Anna fills the bowls with the soup. The soup which is sour-sweet to taste is served as the first course. Some may add some sugar to it, depending on taste.

“Some people like the sourish taste of rosehip, but there are some people who like it sweet. It is possible to cook similar soups using persimmon and cornel, implementing the same method of cooking,” concludes the master of rosehip soup.

How to prepare rosehip soup:
1. Cover one kilo of rosehip with hot water and leave overnight

2. Pour out the water in the morning and add 3 liters of water then place on heat high heat

3. Boil the rosehip for 15 minutes, and then take the pan out off the fire to cool

4. Put the mass into a colander, and mash up the softened fruit into a bowl, removing the remains from the colander

5. Sieve the juice once again in a colander with smaller holes, removing the fruit fiber

6. Add two liters of water and two tablespoons of salt to the juice and place on heat again to boil for 10 minutes

7. While cooking, mix three tablespoons of flour in a cup of water and mix until well blended and add to juice

8. Add one cup of bulgur and cook until bulgur is softened

Add sugar or salt if desired for taste.

The following ingredients are necessary for rosehip soup:
1 kilo of dried or fresh rosehip

1 cup of bulgur

3 tablespoons flour

Salt and/or sugar, to taste