Zuppa Toscana Soup

zuppa toscano

If you ever tried this creamy and hearty Zuppa Toscana soup at Olive Garden Restaurant you probably fell in love with it.Well… you can enjoy this soup at home with this easy simple recipe.When ever I cook it at home,all I hear is “it’s better then Olive Garden!”.It’s super-delicious and perfect comfort soup.



1 onion chopped

5-6 cloves garlic minced

4-5 slices  bacon or pancetta diced

1 lb. Italian hot sausage (casing removed) or homemade recipe below

6-8 russet potatoes or 2-3  baking potatoes washed and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds.(semi-circles for baking potatoes)

4 quarts  (16 cups) chicken broth

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 bundle of kale chopped

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup romano cheese optional

salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons butter


4 chicken thighs grinded or 1 lb ground chicken.

6 garlic cloves crushed

1 teaspoon dry basil

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

salt and black pepper


Directions for sausage:

Combine all ingredients well.Take little pieces of meat and arrange on baking pan.

Bring pot of broth to a boil.

While broth is heating up,heat a frying pan or skillet on medium heat.Throw in bacon or pancetta in the pan and let it slightly brown a little.Remove bacon from pan and wipe the pan from  drippings with paper towels*.Add 1 tablespoon butter and throw in sausage pieces.Brown sausage and add to bacon.Add another 1 tablespoon butter to the pan.Add onions and garlic. Saute until onions are soft and golden in color.

When the broth is boiling,throw in potatoes,bacon,sausage,and sautéed onions with garlic.Cook on med-low until potatoes are soft.

Add heavy whipping cream,parmesan cheese and kale.Heat through and serve.

* I don’t like to use drippings,but you can use drippings if you like and not add butter.


Shurpa-Шурпа на костре



Shurpa is the most popular Uzbek soup that take special place in national culinary of Uzbek cuisine.Although there is many different recipes of shurpa, but the base ingredients are the same consisting of meat,potatoes and vegetables with various spices and aromatic herbs.Shurpa is a hearty soup that can be cooked on stove or on the fire.Cooking it on the fire is my families favorite,it adds a smoky flavor to the soup which makes it taste hundred times better.My mom and dad are pros on that.Dad is always in charge of controlling the fire and mixing the ingredients, and mom cooks the soup.It’s cooked in a large cast iron pot (kazan).Cooking it in regular pot will make a difference in taste and wont taste the same.This recipe serves a fairly big crowd, around 15-20 people and usually they’ll ask for seconds but you can cut all ingredients by half if you don’t need that much.This recipe came from my mom who always get requests to cook it for parties,special occasions and of course the family.The images are for shurpa on the fire, but the steps are the same to cook it on the stove.Just cut the ingredients by half.


            Prepare the firepit.Place the pot on top.Heat it really well.Add oil.When the oil is hot, throw in the meat and mix.


Continue to mix….


until the meat is well browned.


Add onions.Mix.Add carrots and continue to mix.


Throw in bell pepper and continuing to mix.


Add tomato sauce,salt,black pepper,paprika,cumin and red pepper flakes(optional) and continue to mix and cook for 3-5 min.

Add garlic,bay leaves,and water.Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.


Throw in potatoes….


And add more water if needed to cover potatoes all the way.

Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are done.


Throw in all the fresh herbs and mix.

Serve in a bowl with crusty bread or Uzbek lepeshka(flat bread).

For leftover shurpa,transfer to regular pot and refrigerate when cooled.



Lagman - Beef and noodle Soup

DSC_3627Lagman is a beef (lamb) vegetable noodle dish. Its one of the several Uzbeks signature dishes along with plov,manty, samsa and kebobs.There are different varieties of lagman ranging from using different kind of vegetables, meats and noodles.It’s one of my favorite childhood dishes that passed on to my family.



Loaded Baked Potato Soup

What can be more satisfying on a cold winter day then a comforting creamy bowl of soup.
This soup is very delicious and calorific at the same time. One of my families favorite soups. I like to add kale to this soup, a little something nutritious,but its totally optional.For vegetarians you can substitute chicken broth for vegetable broth and omit bacon.
7 potatoes or 3-4 baking potatoes (baked,peeled and cubed)
3 apple wood smoked bacon
1/2 onion chopped
1 carrot peeled,and cut into rounds
1 celery stalk chopped
7 cups chicken broth( for homemade recipe below)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 sour cream
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
4-5 green onions sliced plus more for garnish
1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
salt & pepperOther optional ingredients:
Hot sauce
Chopped kale, broccoli(steamed), or cauliflower (steamed.

For garnish:
sliced green onions
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream
crispy potato skins

Chicken broth:
Fill a big cooking pot with water.Bring water to a boil.Rinse the chicken and place it in the boiling water.Add onion,carrots,bay leaves and about 1 tablespoon of salt (I use Himalayan pink salt, you might need more or less with other types).
Bring it to boil again and reduce to low. Cover with lid but not all the way.Let it cook for about 2 hours.Check for salt and add more if needed.

In a dutch oven or other pot,heat oil and butter on medium heat.
Add onions and garlic.Saute onions for 4-5 minutes and add carrots and celery.
while that’s cooking….

In a frying pan, cook bacon until brown and crisp.
Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towel.
Crumble the bacon into pieces.

Add flour to the pot with vegetables and stir well.
Gradually,add broth by drips at first and stir until smooth.
Take a little amount of broth (about 1/2 cup) from the pot and carefully add to sour cream.
Throw in the potatoes,bacon and green onions.
Add cream.
Cook for about 8-10 minutes.
Carefully add sour cream and cheese.
Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Throw in any other optional ingredients listed above and remove from heat.
Serve in a soup bowl with optional ingredients listed above.


Sorrel soup (Borscht with shchavel)

 This is a classic Ukrainian/Russian sorrel soup that’s often called “green borscht” because of the sorrel.It has similar leafs of spinach and sour to taste.You can cook it with meat or make it vegetarian, ( that’s how I usually cook it), but if with meat I usually make my own chicken broth. Serve it hot with a dollop of sour cream and crusted bread.

1 onion chopped
1 carrot peeled and shredded
8 oz. tomato sauce
4 cups chopped sorrel
3 hard boiled and chopped eggs or  uncooked whisked with a fork
3-4 potatoes diced
10 cups water or chicken broth/stock
2 tablespoon chopped  fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons oil
2 bay leaf
salt and pepper
sour cream
*optional- 1/4 of shredded cabbage and add 1-2 crushed garlic to onion and carrots if cooking vegetarian.

Heat a pan or large pot on medium heat.
Add oil to the pan/pot.
Add onions and carrots.
Saute onions and carrots until golden brown.
Add tomato sauce and bay leaf.
Cook for about 3-4 minutes stirring often.
Add the potatoes and broth/stock or water to the pot *
Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to boil on high heat then reduce heat to low and let  potatoes cook for about 15-20 minutes.
Add sorrel,eggs,dill,parsley and green onions.
Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat.
I like my soup to sit for awhile to get the flavors combined, then serve in approx. 30 minutes with sour cream and crusted bread.

*If using a saute pan, transfer the onions,carrot and tomato sauce cooked mixture  and potatoes to the pot with boiling water or stock/broth.Let it cool until potatoes are done.

Ukranian Borscht

Borscht is a soup mostly made with beets and cabbage. It is a speacialty of Russian and Ukranian cuisine. It’s still a specialty in my family.There is lots of variations how to make borscht, but the base ingredients are cabbage and beets.Most of the time I can cook borscht without any meat or broth(believe me It’s still good) but sometime I would make it with homemade chicken or beef broth.
1 big or 2 small onions chopped
1 big or 2 small carrot shredded
½ green bell pepper chopped
½ red bell pepper chopped
1 small raw beet and 1 cooked beet for really red borscht shredded
4 cloves garlic finely chopped or crushed
8oz. Tomato sauce
3 bay leaves
8 medium russet potatoes peeled and cut into squares
½  of medim size cabbage thinly sliced
2/3 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped (optional)
2/3 baby dill finely chopped
3 quarts (12 cups) of water,chicken/beef broth with meat
salt and pepper
3 tablespoon oil
Heat oil in large heavy pot on medium-high heat.
Add garlic . When garlic starts to turn light brown add onions, carrots, and bell peppers.
Saute for 7 minutes, stirring occasionaly.
Add beets.saute for another 4-5 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce,bay leaves and black pepper. Stirring few times,let it cook for 5 minutes .
Throw in the potatoes and pour in water or broth.
Season with salt,stir,close lid and bring to boil.
When starts to boil reduce heat to low and cook until potatoes are done.
Throw in cabbage,parsley and dill.(I like to add half of uncut bell pepper for more flavor.)
Bring to a light boil and remove from heat.Tear chicken/beef in to small parts and throw in to the pot.
It is best when served couple hours later.serve with dallop of sour cream , thinly sliced onions and bread.
Optional: to cook Beef or Chicken stock; Bring water to a boil in a big pot,add whole chicken or beef (your choice of meat,ribs ). 1 whole onion and 1 carrot peeled.2 bay leaves and season with salt.cook for an hour on low heat or until chicken is soft and tender.