A rich and hearty soup of red meat and root vegetables should be very welcome any winter’s day on the Great Steppe. This version of Uzbek shurpa uses beef in place of the more traditional mutton. The fine dice of vegetables makes those meat morsels seem hefty on the spoon. Carmelization is created first on the meat and then the vegetables by searing, a process that requires high heat, a heavy pot, and vigilance on the part of the cook. After the broth has been added the soup needs a long, slow simmer in order to tenderize the flavourful beef stewing cut. Yogurt is not just an attractive garnish, but an integral part of the flavour, as its sourness cuts through the richness of the soup and balances the sweetness of the root vegetables. The yogurt will depress the temperature of the bowl, though, so have the soup piping-hot, and try just a tablespoon or two of yogurt per bowl.
Perhaps start with a salad or two. Serve the soup with green tea or black tea (both traditional), or a chianti.
2 hours,including 90 minutes simmering; serves four
2 Tbsp canola or sunflower, (ie. high smoking point)
1 lb stewing beef, cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 onions, halved and sliced
1 potato, peeled and diced to 1/4″
1 carrot, peeled and diced to 1/4″
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 dried bay leaves
1/4 tsp caraway
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
7 oz canned tomato, diced and with juice
2 cups beef broth
1. Blot the cubed beef with paper towel and heat the oil over high heat to just smoking in a wide and very heavy pot. Add the meat in one layer and allow it to begin browning. As it browns, turn the pieces so they cannot burn. Remove the meat.
2. Sear the onions in the hot oil until they have begun to brown as well. Add the potato and carrot and fry these for a few minutes as well, until they start to brown.
3. Add the bay, caraway seed, salt, pepper, and garlic and stir for a few seconds. Return the meat.
4. Add the tomato and juice and scrape the pot to remove the carmelized frond.
5. Add the broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and leave for ninety minutes.
6. Taste for salt. Serve in dollop of yogurt and a garnish of finely chopped parsley.