This Lagman Recipe is for a flavorful noodle soup from Central Asia. The aromatic broth is filled with vegetables and beef strips.
These are my absolute favorite posts, when I get to share with you a traditional recipe that I ate growing up. My mom usually cooks these meals off the top of her head, so it is very exciting to me being able to put measurements to these recipes, so I and everyone else can recreate them.
However, this is also a little intimidating. These recipes are authentic to me, because this is the way I grew up eating them. But I also realize, that someone having grown up with a similar food tradition, may feel these recipes aren’t authentic at all, because they deviate from their family recipe. Though I hope we can all embrace each others food love, even in its differences.
My mom was born and grew up in the Central Asian part of Russia. Lagman is a flavorful veggie noodle soup that is eaten in a number of countries from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to Turkmenistan. Wikipedia says it was brought there by Chinese Muslims.
In research for this Lagman recipe, I observed and took notes when my mom was cooking Lagman. I also found a cookbook of traditional Soviet recipes on her shelf and then there is of course the interwebs with its endless stream of information.
It seems that lamb is usually used in Lagman, but beef is a common substitute. Traditionally, the noodles are handmade in a unique way of pulling the dough. I found this cool video here. But I always grew up with spaghetti, linguine or fettucine in Lagman. Fresh dough noodles are better than dry pasta.
When I set out to make Lagman by myself for the very first time, I found these fresh Chinese noodles in my grocery store, and figured they would be as close as I could come to homemade noodles. I think, even fresh Udon noodles will work. For the meat portion of this soup, use a cut with bone. Cooking the bone makes for such a flavorful broth.
The specific vegetables for the soup seemed to be different in every single recipe I found. We always use carrots, potatoes, bell pepper, tomatoes and rutabaga. My mom says the rutabaga is just a substitute for a root vegetable that is very specific to Central Asia and usually found in Lagman.
I’ve seen others use turnip, daikon or even a bunch of little radishes instead. The rutabaga makes for a sweeter soup as opposed to a radish-like veggie. Additionally, others also use celery, eggplant and whatever other vegetable they might have on hand. This really isn’t a strict recipe. Coriander seeds and star anise are the stars that flavor the broth.
The noodles are cooked separately, then placed in a deep bowl and topped with the vegetables and beef and as much broth as desired. Some like it drier, while others (like my husband Konrad) like a LOT of broth when eating soup.
Traditionally a bowl of Lagman is served with a bunch of chopped cilantro, fresh minced garlic and fresh chili slices.
To adapt it to our preference, I add the garlic and some chili flakes while cooking the soup. And since neither Konrad and I seem to be born with the cilantro-liking gene, some coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley makes a good stand-in.
I hope that even if you didn’t grow up with Central Asian food influences, you’ll give this delicious, aromatic and filling Noodle Beef Veggie soup a try. I know you will not regret it!
Lagman Recipe - Uzbek Beef Noodle Soup with Vegetables
- 1 pound beef cut into small strips (don't discard any bones)
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 large carrots diced
- 2 medium potatoes diced
- 1 cup diced rutabaga turnip or daikon
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 2 tomatoes diced or 1 cup canned tomatoes
- 1.5 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 star anise pods
- 3 quarts hot water
- 1 pound fresh noodles
- cilantro or parsley for garnish
In a large soup pot with heavy bottom heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the beef strips and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes until browned from all sides. Add onion and garlic to the pot and cook on medium until soft.
Add the other vegetables and saute for a few minutes. Add any existing bone and spices (star anise and coriander seeds in a spice bag for easy removal) and fill hot/boiling water into the pot. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes until meat is tender and vegetables are soft.
Remove any bones and spice bag.
Cook the noodles separately according to directions. Fill cooked noodles into deep bowls, top with soup and add coarsely chopped cilantro or parsley on top.
To make this recipe gluten-free use gluten-free pasta or zoodles (or other spiralized vegetable noodles). With a vegetable pasta and the potatoes replaced with another vegetable (like sweet potato) you could even make this recipe paleo - like I did with these Zoodles Bolognese.
Products Used in this Lagman Recipe
For more recipes with Russian/Soviet background, check out: