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(Georgian Beef-Walnut Soup with fresh herbs)

This truly outstanding soup can singlehandedly help you prepare for or recover from a blizzard, a grueling journey, any challenge you can imagine--it is that rich and robust. It has an unusual number of herbs and flavorings; these create an exotic but not offputting taste and texture. I recommend it highly. Serve hot as a meal to 6-8 people.

Garnish: 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (any mixture of tarragon, cilantro, basil, parsley, mint, or dill)

Bring the meat, in one big piece, to a boil in the stock. Skim off the foam as necessary. Reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for about 1½ hours. Remove and reserve the meat.

When the meat has been cooking for an hour or so, melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat, and stir in the onions. Fry for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and colored. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add 1/2 cup stock and stir until smooth. Stir in the tomato paste and the tomatoes. Whisk in the rest of the stock, add the rice, and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Add all the rest of the ingredients, except for the fresh herbs, and simmer them until the rice is tender--another 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, you can cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.

When ready to serve, remove the soup from the heat, stir in the meat pieces and the 1/4 cup of fresh chopped herbs, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining herbs and ladle into bowls. Serve with hearty bread and butter and a good Georgian red wine.