Yaini is a sweet savoury soup from the south Caucasus claimed by the Armenians and Georgians, known to the Azeris and Turks, and popular across the mountains in the Ukraine and Russia, where it is a traditional dish subject to countless variations.
The basic recipe requires a pungent stock made from a whole piece of stewing beef simmered gently for several hours with carrots, celery, cilantro, onions, parsley and peppercorns. The beef is served cut into large cubes with apricots, potatoes, tomatoes and seasoning in the flavoursome broth.
Tradition calls for the onions to be sweated in butter, but this is not necessary and any fat should be cut off the beef chuck.
Apricots sweeten the soup and should not be spared. They should heighten the flavour from the stock, which can be made with light greens (celery, cilantro/coriander and lovage leaves), heavy greens (cabbage, chard and kale leaves and stems) or a combination of both types of greens.
An assortment of herbs (mint, rosemary, sage, tarragon) and a sprinkling of black and red peppercorns will add pungency.
- 1 litre boiling water
- 500 g beef chuck, simmered in stock, cut into cubes
- 500 g potatoes, cut into small cubes
- 150 g dried apricots, cut into quarters
- Assortment greens, herbs, onions, peppercorns for stock
- 80 g onion, finely chopped
- 60 g butter / 30 g vegetable oil
- 60 ml tomato purée or 4 whole, skinned and chopped
Brown the beef in its own fat, pour in a litre of boiling water, add stock ingredients and simmer on a very low heat for 3-4 hours.
Sauté onions in butter or oil over medium heat until translucent.
Some recipes suggest a passata made with onions and tomatoes.
Alternatively add fresh tomatoes to the onions with the stock, potatoes, apricots and seasoning. Cook until potatoes are tender.
Heat the cubed beef in the soup, about ten minutes.