Thursday 18 May 2017

Globecooking recipe : Nokhchi Sorpa (Chechnya) #FoodForThought

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, when I shared a recipe for Limon bi-na'na (aka Polo), which is a beautifully fresh and ultra simple Syrian mint lemonade, I'm taking part in the #FoodForThought campaign with a few other bloggers, to highlight some of the war-torn, oppressed and ravaged countries that pop up in the news with saddening frequency.

After Syria, we are turning to Chechnya, so it is rather ironic that as I write this blogpost, twitter is trending #loveislove and telling me that it is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. I have no doubt they won't be celebrating in Chechnya, where horrifying news of the secret prison camps where gay men are imprisoned and tortured recently hit the news. It sounds like something out of Nazi Germany and seems unbelievable that this kind of thing can still be going on these days. (If you want more information or to take some positive action, Amnesty International and Rainbow International Fund are a great place to start.)

I have no grand illusions of changing the world, but I can share a more positive aspect of Chechnya with you - their traditional food. Browsing around online, I saw a few mentions of hearty soups and stews, involving meat and vegetables, so I decided to recreate one of those. This recipe for Nokhchi Sorpa (which just translates as Chechen Soup) is more of an idea than a specific recipe, but it was my inspiration for what turned out to be a soul-warming and belly-filling soup.

Nokhchi Sorpa

ingredients :

a drizzle of olive oil
about 500g lamb 
2 onions
2 carrots
2 potatoes
1/2 a red pepper
3 bay leaves
some sprigs of rosemary
1tsp thyme
salt, black pepper
1 stock cube
2tbsp tomato puree

Heading to my friendly local butcher, I told him what I was planning on making and he informed me that I needed lamb breast for soup. He kindly chopped it into small chunks on the bone - with his razor sharp cleaver, it took seconds, but I'd never have managed at home so choose your cut wisely. You could use any cheap cut of beef, lamb or mutton for this recipe.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and quickly sear the lamb on all sides for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the lamb to the cooking pot for the soup and use the frying pan, along with the juices from the lamb, to fry the onions for a few minutes until they are soft and starting to take on some colour. Add them to the lamb.

Again using the same frying pan, fry the diced carrots and potatoes for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until they are going soft and golden brown.

Add those to the soup pot too and give it all a good stir.

We may not have a big garden but I do have some herbs growing in pots, so I went and picked some bay leaves and rosemary to add to the pot.

I added half a red pepper, diced, for an extra splash of colour.

Add the rosemary and bay leaves, along with salt, pepper and thyme.

Cover with water, crumble in a stock cube and leave to simmer for 40 minutes, or longer if you're not in any rush. (I went out geocaching with the kids and dogs and left Madhouse Daddy on soup-watching duties so I don't really know how long it bubbled away for !) This would also be a great dish to throw in the slow cooker to simmer away all day while you're at work.

Once the soup has reduced quite a lot, stir through some tomato puree to make it even thicker. The meat should be falling off the bone. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve in a bowl, with a separate empty side dish for you to toss the bones in.

Make sure you also head over to Sneaky Veg, where Mandy made a wonderful Vegan Rainbow Vegetable Pie.

1 comment:

  1. Well done to you for finding a genuine Chechen recipe to make Cheryl. I struggled to find much information about Chechen food. This sounds like a great hearty family dinner. Thanks so much for joining in with #foodforthought again x


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