Citizens, in Uzbekistan there is a Lamb and Vegetable Soup known as Shurpa (Sho’rpo) that is ranked in the top-tier of the Uzbek recipe canon. It is a variety of filling and nourishing soup, popular in the East, characterized by a high fat content, the presence of large-size cut vegetables, an abundance of spices and herbs and with the surprising addition of fruit.
There are two different types of this dish: one involves pre-frying the ingredients (qovurma sho’rpo), and another which is slow cooked (simmered).
As noted on the website orexca.com:
Among the liquid dishes, various kinds of Shurpa and Mastava take an important place in Uzbek national cuisine. The basis of these dishes is the bouillon of fatty meat. Shurpa and Mastava are prepared from fresh or pre-fried meat, most often from fresh mutton. Important components are sliced carrots and onion rings, which are added fresh. Sometimes it is prepared with turnips or peas.
In several areas potatoes, fresh tomatoes and sweet peppers are added. Shurpa is subdivided into Kaytnama (made from fresh meat) and Kovurma (made from fried meat). Kaytnama – shurpa is the most popular and has a gentle taste and aroma.
The meat is cooked in large pieces, and the vegetables – whole or in large pieces. Cooking should be done on a slow fire and it is impossible to allow a vigorous boil.
I am giving you the ruthlessly authentic recipe for the pan-fried version of the dish, laden with lamb, garlic, herbs, vegetables and completed with Central Asian spices (given a touch of TFD magic of course).
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- For the lamb stock:
- 2 lbs. bone-in lamb
- 10 cups water
- For the Shurpa:
- 3 lbs. lamb stew meat, cut into small pieces
- 8 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into medium cubes
- 2 large onions, one red and one white, chopped
- 1 white onion, thinly sliced
- 3 carrots, preferably multi-colored, peeled and cut in rounds
- 1 green bell pepper, julienned
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- 1 orange bell pepper, julienned
- 1 cup canned chickpeas
- 2 ozs. tomato paste
- 6 ozs. tomato sauce
- 10 cloves garlic, cut into thick slices
- 1 quince, cored and cut into slices (if unavailable, use an heirloom apple and ¼ cup membrillo (quince paste) – if you can’t find membrillo, just omit and use the apple)
- ¾ cup grapeseed oil (preferred), or neutral oil
- ¼ cup minced lamb fat (preferred) or use grapeseed or neutral oil
- 1 teaspoon urfa biber (preferred) or regular red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika or just use regular
- 2 tablespoon freshly-ground cumin
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ⅓ cup chopped dill
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- ⅛ cup Thai basil (or just use parsley if unavailable)
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 3 tablespoons of pink Himalayan or kosher salt
- a large pinch or two of Sumac for the onions
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- For the lamb stock:
- Wash the lamb on the bone and place it in a large pot. Pour over 10 cups of water and bring the water to boil over medium heat.
- As soon as the water starts slightly boiling, discard the water. This is done to reduce the smell that lamb meat usually has and to clean the meat in order to have a clear stock.
- Once you have emptied the pot, return it back to the stove and add 11 cups of pre-boiled water.
- Bring it to boil again but keep the heat on medium. Do not overboil the water. When the water starts boiling, more foam will appear on the surface of the soup. Using either a spoon or a spatula, remove the foam. The soup should be clear.
- Keep on simmering the soup over medium-low heat. Cover the lid of the pot half-way and cook the meat for at least 2 hours. When done, discard lamb and reserve stock.
- For the Shurpa:
- Heat a pot over high heat and add lamb fat and oil. When the oil is hot, add in the lamb meat and sauté until the meat is well-browned. Drain a lot of the oil or fat off (but not all – the oil is an important part of the dish, the final product should be oily!) and remove any burnt cracklings from the pan.
- Add red onions, sauté for a minute and then add carrots and continue to mix.
- Add in bell peppers and continue to stir.
- Add tomato sauce, and ground spices plus salt and pepper and continue to mix and cook for 3-5 min.
- Add garlic, bay leaves and lamb stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add in potatoes, sliced quince (or apple and membrillo) and chickpeas plus more stock if needed to cover potatoes all the way.
- Simmer for an additional 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are done.
- Meanwhile marinate the white onion: peel and slice it into semi-circles. Sprinkle it with sumac and a pinch of coarse salt, then squash it with your hands. Leave to stand under a weight (a bottle of water for example).
- Place the meat in warmed deep bowls, add ladles of soup and sprinkle with fresh herbs and marinated onion.
- Serve in a bowl with crusty bread or Uzbek lepeshka (flat bread).
- For leftover shurpa, transfer to regular pot and refrigerate when cooled.
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