After running, I’m often ravenous. During the cool down, my girlfriend and I like to ask each other “if you could have anything to eat in the world right now, what would you have?” Frequently, my answer without hesitation is kharcho soup. Tired of hearing the same dish over and over she asked “What’s so great about it?” Part of the appeal of the dish was the underlying sourness and nuttiness which at the time I couldn’t identify. I first tried this traditional Georgian lamb and rice soup at the amazing Primorski Restaurant in Brighton Beach.
I wanted to make a version closer to traditional as well as vegan so my girlfriend could appreciate my annoying post-run answer. After a little digging, I learned that walnuts are important to the soup. For the sourness cherry, plum, apricots, prunes or pomegranate sauces are employed. (Some substitute tamarind or lemon). I had chicken on hand so used that as the protein. In the vegetarian/vegan version chickpeas were used since they hold up well in stews. The khmeli-suneli, a Georgian spice mix is hard to find, so below the ingredient list. This is my humble version. Enjoy.
1 pd chicken or 2 cups of chickpeas
2 ounces tomato paste
2 ounces sour cherry juice (if not available plum, tamarind, pomegranate or even lemon juice)
½ onion, chopped
½ cup carrots
a few ounces walnut, crushed
2 tsp khmeli-suneli *See note below on this ingredient.
2 bay leaves
1 cup of rice
cilantro for garnish
*salt, coriander powder, fenugreek powder, paprika, basil bay leaf, marjoram.
In a deep pan, brown meat for 3-5 minutes. Next add in chopped onions and bayleaves. Cook these for another 5 minutes. Now add in all other ingredients except sour cherry juicealong with 4 cups of water (or whatever is needed to submerge everything). Bring to a boil, then to a simmer. Cover for a half hour, stirring occasionally. Making sure the chicken is cooked, add in the sour cherry. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve hot.
Add bay leaves and onions to a deep pan. Caramelize onions for 5-7 minutes. Next add in all other ingredients except sour cherry. Bring to a boil, then to a simmer. Cover for 20 minutes. Make sure veggies are cooked. Add sour cherry or similar souring agent. Taste and adjust. Serve hot.