It is not difficult to prepare a soup kharcho according to the recipe, it is only important to use the right ingredients and follow the process, and not to chase authenticity.
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Who and when said that kharcho is prepared from lamb? It’s like dressing an Olivier salad with sunflower oil. Almost blasphemous, both for the kharcho soup and for the olivier salad. Kharcho, the national Georgian soup, is made exclusively from beef.
Most often, the name of the first dish is specified – which region of Georgia the recipe belongs to. There is food in Georgian, Megrelian, etc. But the essence of the soup — a spicy beef soup with tkemali and nuts — remains unchanged. It is very spicy, saturated, with a lot of garlic and greens. Much thicker than the soups we are used to, and the rule “there should be half liquid in the soup” is not followed. Now soup is prepared from various meats: pork, lamb, veal, and even poultry. But in the very name, kharcho (ხარჩო) is beef soup.
Tkemali (Georgian: ტყემალი) is the Georgian name for a local variety of cherry plum, as well as a sauce made from it. Tkemali plum is one of the subspecies of plum. Its scientific name is Plum unfurled (Prunus cerasifera or Prunus divaricata). It is from it that the sauce of the same name is prepared – the pearl of Georgian cuisine. Used plums of different colors, resulting in a sauce of different colors — red, yellow, green. The taste of tkemali sauce varies, but it should not be excessively spicy and burning, but rather spicy and sour.
Georgian soup recipe – always sour base from tkemali
When cooking, tkemali is often replaced with more affordable tomato paste. However, it is possible to use the so-called “sour lavash” instead of tkemali. This is not bread, as many people think. This is the dried pulp of tkemala or dogwood. Fruit purée is dried in the sun in the form of giant cakes – lavash. They are called tklapi (ტყლაპი) – if necessary, a piece is broken off, soaked and added to soup or other dishes. In kharcho recipes, you can typically find – tklapi, a piece like a palm. The second most important component of kharcho is walnuts.
It is worth saying that in the Caucasus, without walnuts, only wine is prepared. In addition, walnuts are the basis of baje sauce, the most famous in the Caucasus, which few people know by name here, but they know very well the satsivi dish, which is actually poultry (meat, fish) in baje sauce.
Well, meat. Not lamb, not pork, not poultry. Only beef, preferably fatty or with bone (there is enough fat there). Beef food, just like that!
You can hear many fair arguments in favor of this or that recipe, that you can’t add this or that component to the dish, etc. But you should not forget that the recipe for solyanka or Ukrainian borscht in two neighbors is as different as an apple from an oyster. Be simpler.
Kharcho soup recipe
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Kharcho soup is a very, delicious dish, especially with fragrant Georgian pita bread. But there is one problem! There are many Kharcho recipes, and it is not known which of them is authentic. Therefore, I simply offer you a proven recipe for delicious Georgian Kharcho!
- Beef – 400 gr.
- Garlic – 1 head
- Carrot – 1 pc.
- Onion – 2 pcs.
- Rice – 3-4 tbsp. l.
- Parsley, dill, cilantro – 1 large bunch
- Tkemali (purée) – 0.5 cups (0.12 l)*
- Spices: suneli hops, salt, black pepper – to your taste
- Walnuts (kernels) – 0.5 cups (0.12 l)
It is not quick to cook soup. It is even a long time, if with a soul. Its too long! Therefore, there is no need to rush.
There is a lot of controversy about the quality of beef. Usually only fatty brisket is recommended. Once, a Georgian friend told me that it is better to make hashlama from brisket, and for Kharcho, take a piece of beef with a brain bone, it will have enough fat, and the soup will be better. I checked, he is right. A piece of bone-in beef is perfect. What is remarkable is that young veal is significantly inferior to old beef.
Boil 1.5 liters of water in a large pot and cook a whole piece of beef in it at a low boil. Cook for a long time. A couple of hours at least. The broth for the soup should be rich and “strong”.
Next, remove the beef from the broth, remove all the bones, and cut the meat into pieces: big or small – it doesn't matter. But I recommend cutting it in portions, quite violently. Return the chopped beef to the boiling broth.
Peel carrots and onions. Cut the carrot into cubes. The onion should be cut into thin strips, but not in the usual way, but along the bulb. Such a cut will preserve the fibers in the onion, and the onion will not crumble into oatmeal during cooking. In the Caucasus, carrots are not added to soup, so carrots are at your discretion.
Next, a tkemali is inserted into the boiling broth. This is the most decisive moment of the whole process. For two liters of soup, I recommend adding 2 full tablespoons of tkemali purée, or cutting 100 grams of fresh plums, removing the seeds. If you don't have tkemali (or alychi) sauce, add tomato paste.
Let the soup boil and after 5 minutes add chopped carrots. Boil carrots for exactly 10 minutes. If you decide not to add carrots, you can skip this point.
Add chopped onion, bring to a boil and cook under the lid at a low boil for half an hour.
While the broth with vegetables is cooking, prepare the nut dressing.
Sort through half a cup of walnut kernels, carefully selecting the remains of the shell and partitions. I recommend lightly frying the nuts in a dry pan until a pleasant smell appears. Grind the nuts in a mortar until smooth and traces of nut butter appear.
Peel the garlic and grind it in a mortar, you can together with the nuts. But this is unprincipled. Strictly speaking, garlic can be simply grated.
After 30 minutes, it's time to add rice. Once upon a time, when I was little, my father used to add rice to the soup, which boiled in the shape of the letter "X". I have had a persistent association since that time – soup with the letters X is food... Take long-grain rice.
Rice should be cooked for exactly 10 minutes.
Only then is the nut-garlic dressing added. The soup is cooked for another 15 minutes. During this time, the rice will be cooked to the desired condition. By the way, turn on the hood at full power, otherwise the smell of Kharcho will drive household members and even neighbors into the kitchen, and they will actively disturb you.
By the way, have you noticed that neither salt nor spices have been added yet??
Only after the nuts and garlic have been cooked for 15 minutes, we start adding spices.
Spices are the subject of many disputes. Usually, you need a lot of coriander in Kharcho. Coriander peas are violently ground. You also require pepper, Imereti saffron, bay leaf, coarsely ground hot pepper, etc. Many cooks add the Caucasian spice mixture "khmeli-suneli" (khmeli-suneli), literally translated as “dry spice”. It is not spicy, but incredibly aromatic and spicy. Slightly bitter. The composition is often entirely unique, but it typically contains such herbs (basil, dill, mint, marjoram, savory), hot red pepper, coriander, bay leaf, fenugreek.
The composition of the full version of suneli hops is very complex, the store version is more typically used.
So, I recommend adding 1 teaspoon of suneli hops to taste, and adding 1 incomplete teaspoon of coarsely ground coriander seeds on top. Next, you should try the soup for its spiciness. And only to your taste, make it hotter by adding red-hot pepper. Best of all, not a powder, but a pod of hot pepper ground in a mortar together with the seeds – coarsely ground.
After adding the spices, cook for exactly 5 minutes at a low boil. It is not necessary to make a strong fire, the soup is already quite thick and can easily burn.
A bundle of collective greens: cilantro, dill, mint (if available), parsley – finely cut. The more greens, the better the taste. Add the greens to the soup and let it boil for another 2 minutes.
Let the soup stand-off the heat for at least another 5 minutes. Kharcho it is ready.
Pour the soup on plates, if there is a desire, everyone will add spiciness and greens to their taste. Definitely freshly baked pita bread, and a lot of it.
Kharcho is the best Caucasian beef soup.
You can also replace the beef with pork or lamb. And don't worry if someone, somewhere, someday tells you that Kharcho is not made from pork, it's not true.
Serving Size2 servings
Amount Per Serving Calories 62.2Total Fat 3.4gCarbohydrates 3.5gProtein 4.6g
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