Introduction: Lagman

Lagman is a traditional soup from Uzbekistan.  It is related to other Asian noodle soups, and was possibly introduced to Uzbekistan by the Dungans, or Chinese Muslims, who settled in the area.  Like most traditional recipes, each region and each cook will have their own version of it.

It is pretty simple to prepare and even more delicious the next day, after the flavors have had time to come together properly.

Step 1:

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb boneless lamb shoulder or beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thick strips or cubed
1 eggplant, cut into small cubes
3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 medium green chilies
2 medium boiling potatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
3/4 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
2 bay leaves
5 to 6 cups lamb or beef stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, or to taste
medium handful cilantro, chopped
small handful parsley, chopped
1 box fettuccine noodles

I would suggest preparing all of the vegetables before browning the meat.  This will streamline the process and have you done much sooner.  

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add the meat when the oil begins to shimmer.  Brown well on all sides and remove to a bowl; set aside for the moment.

Step 2:

Add the eggplant, onion and carrots to the pot all at once.  These will brown in the same oil as the meat, imparting an extra layer of flavor to them.  You can peel the eggplant beforehand if you like, but I actually like the added color.  I found that the skin became tender during cooking, so the texture of the soup doesn't suffer if you choose to leave the eggplant unpeeled.  Cook for about 7 minutes.

Next, add the peppers and tomatoes.  Stir well and cook for another 10 minutes or so, allowing the vegetables to soften somewhat.  Stir in the potatoes and cook an additional 3 minutes.

Now is the time to add in your spices.  Stir well, and then return the browned meat to the pot (along with any accumulated juices).

Step 3:

Pour in 5 cups of stock.  Beef or lamb stock is best for this soup, but I only had chicken broth on hand.  While it may not have had quite the same rich flavor as a beef/lamb stock, it was an acceptable substitute.

Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let it cook!  Check the liquid level after about 30 minutes.  If needed, add the remaining cup of stock.  This is also a good time to add salt and pepper to taste.  Continue cooking the soup for another 15 minutes or so - until the meat is tender.  If you are going to serve the soup over noodles, as is traditional, now would be a good time to get the fettuccine cooking (prepare according to package directions, but please don't overcook them). 

Now you can add the garlic.  I would say that two cloves is the minimum for this amount of soup, so if you like it garlicky and spicy, feel free to add more!

Next, stir in the vinegar, parsley and cilantro (reserve a bit of these two if you'd like to have a garnish for your bowls of soup).

Step 4:

Time to eat!

I like lagman served with or without the traditional noodles.  If you choose not to do the noodles, I would suggest eating it with some kind of fresh, crusty bread. 

However you eat it, please enjoy!

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