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"Meat brings strength, shurpa brings beauty.
--Old Kazakh proverb


(Hearty Spiced Lamb Soup from Central Asia)

Aromatic and hearty with root vegetables, this rich soup is beautiful to see, with its even and colorful dice, and superb as a winter meal. It's a good one to start the night before, so you can refrigerate overnight and easily remove every scrap of fat before adding the vegetables the next day. Serve hot to 8 people.

Garnish: 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large Dutch oven, brown the meat in the hot oil over high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the onions and cook 5 or so more minutes, until the onions are softened and have taken on color. Spoon off all the fat that you can, pour in the stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 1½ hours. Refrigerate the soup, preferably overnight, so you can easily remove the fat.

About an hour before serving, start chopping the vegetables. Bring the skimmed soup to a boil over medium heat, then add the turnip, zucchini, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, cumin, hot pepper flakes, coriander, and chickpeas. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Salt to taste, then stir in the vinegar. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with lots of finely minced cilantro.