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Kharcho, Georgian Style Soup

Kharcho, Georgian Style Soup


In my Chicago suburban house I am gladly cooking Louisiana jambalaya, New England chowder, Southern chicken, and Texas cowboy caviar.

While living in Moscow, I liked to prepare authentic meals from the former Soviet republics, such as Uzbek pilaf, Ukrainian gnocchi, Belarusian potato cakes, Georgian kebabs, Russian Beef Stroganoff, Georgian kharcho soup (well, I am talking about ex-Soviet Union republic) and many other delicious dishes.

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Now, when I am reproducing these recipes, I am also trying to make some changes for the better. Thus, one hardly can find celery sticks in the authentic kharcho recipe, but I like adding them. So, my version of this warming soup includes the aroma of the celery which makes the soup even tastier.

As for the rice used in this soup, I really like parboiled variety. It doesn’t fall apart and holds its shape well.

This is a really delightful soup from sunny Georgia (you know, I am talking about the country, not the American sunny state) – thick, hearty and full of flavors.

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Kharcho, Georgian Style Soup


one 3-quart pot


  • 10-12 oz onion, finely chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup parboiled rice (1 cup of very thick soup)
  • 1 can (14-15 oz) tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the stock:

  • 1 lb lamb on the bone, cut off excess fat, or beef short ribs, or beef shanks
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 10-15 black peppercorns
  • 10-15 coriander seeds
  • Salt 




In a large stock pot (about 5 quarts), combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil on a high heat. Reduce heat and simmer about 1 hour, occasionally skimming foam and fat. Lamb should be tender and fall apart from the bone(s).

Remove the meat from the stock, cool slightly, and cut the lamb into a bite size pieces.

Strain the stock. You may have more stock than you need for the soup. Reserve it to add to the soup to make it thinner next day or freeze it.

In a 3-quart saucepan heat the olive oil, add the onion and cook for 7-10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the rinsed rice, celery, chili pepper, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and, if desired, salt. Stir. Add the stock. Bring to a boil on a high heat. Reduce heat and simmer the soup under the lid until the rice almost cooked (about 15 minutes). Add the lamb, cilantro, and cook for 5 minutes. Let it stand to develop the flavors.

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Cook with pleasure!


7 thoughts on “Kharcho, Georgian Style Soup”

    • I assume you are right Nelly. Probably it will be better if I change the name on ‘Kharcho style’ and give an option for a meat variety. And this is a mystery why in my family, in our friend’s families and some Moscow restaurants this soup was made with lamb. Perhaps the reason was in the cookbooks (the only two were available in USSR), and those books gave you two options – to make the soup with beef ribs or lamb. By the way, I often make it with beef – just because beef is more affordable. But now I know this is ‘legal’ 🙂 and I’m not breaking the rules 🙂

  • Hi! I just had this soup at a Russian eatery in SF last week and I’d like to make it at home. I have 1 question: what kind of chili pepper do you use in your soup? And would it be helpful to use a food processor to create a chili paste for the soup? I often make Mexican pozole and roast chilis and then make a paste for my own pozole stock.


    • Hi Cindy,
      I usually use jalapeno or fresno chili pepper. But if you like it hot habanero or bird’s eye pepper is good. I think making a chili paste for the soup is a very creative idea (you can even use the paste you make for your pozole) – no doubt, Kharcho, as well as pozole, tastes different from home to home 🙂

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