Kharcho Soup Recipe (Georgian Beef Soup)

Riding out Coronavirus in Tbilisi has its perks. I’m right around the corner from hiking trails, have an endless list of Georgian wine to sample, and all the time in the world to learn my favorite Georgian dishes such as khinkali, Adjarian khachapuri, and now kharcho soup. This hearty kharcho soup recipe is the comfort food of dreams and loaded with rich herby and garlicky flavor that just makes ya feel warm and happy inside. It’s celebrated all across Georgia and a favorite for warming up during the winter season. Despite it being the heat of June and steadily in the 90s every day, I can’t help but enjoy this delicious soup regularly! I hope you enjoy it, too.

What is kharcho?

So, kharcho can be made in a number of ways, but the most common differentiators are with and without walnuts and thick or soupy. The easiest way to name them is Megrelian kharcho (thick and stewed in walnut paste) and kharcho soup (brothy and herby). They are both equally delicious, but today I am putting the spotlight on kharcho soup. It’s far more soupy than it’s walnut counterpart and has subtle spiciness with bursts of flavor throughout. It is also made with very basic ingredients and doesn’t have any complicated steps.

To brown or not to brown?

Traditionally, the meat is boiled right away but I prefer to do a quick brown before boiling. I personally enjoy the texture more this way and think it adds to the body of the broth. I also trim the fat from the beef – it’s just my preference and the fat scraps make for great dog treats If you wish, you can bypass both of these steps and have even less fuss. Either way, this is a classic low and slow soup that requires little work that will have your house smelling amazing and your neighbors asking if they can join.

What are tkemali and khmeli-suneli?

Tkemali is Georgian sour plum sauce. It’s considered one of the world’s most unique sauces to try and can be used on everything from fried eggs to garlic bread to the most common – grilled meat. Khmeli – suneli is a common spice used in Georgian dishes. It is made up mainly of blue fenugreek, savory, dill, cilantro, bay, and other various herbs. If you’re unable to find khmeli-suneli, you can make your own with my blend in the recipe notes. They are both uniquelly Georgian and quite hard to find outside the Caucacus region so be sure to check the substituions in my recipe notes at the bottom!