Tangy soup (Pikantā zupa)

Red meat soup on a white plate

Some may argue that this tangy soup (Pikantā zupa) is not entirely Latvian. They would be correct, but it is something that is served in pretty much every roadside and country pub in Latvia, and to me is a meal in itself. Loosely based on Russian soļanka, it served with sour cream, olives, slices of lemon and (optional) shot of vodka.

Tangy soup (Pikantā zupa)

Tangy soup (Pikantā zupa)


  • Beef bones for stock
  • 350g beef
  • 300g smoked bacon
  • 4 kransky style sausages
  • 4 medium onions
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 250g pickles/salted cucumbers
  • 4 large potatoes
  • Black olives, sour cream, olives and chopped parsley for serving


  1. Place beef bones in a large pot (I usually use Dutch oven) and cover with water. Place on a medium high heat. Once the water will start to boil, foam and scum will appear. Remove the bones from the pot and rinse, wash out the pot.
  2. Place rinsed bones back in to the pot, add beef cut in large chunks and cover with water. Add couple bay leaves and some peppercorns. Place on medium low heat and simmer for just over an hour.
  3. While the stock is simmering, cut onions in half and then slice them.
  4. Heat oil in a large frying pan on a medium high heat and add onions.
  5. While onions are cooking, dice pickles and then add them to the onions.
  6. Dice bacon and sausages and add to onion mixture.
  7. Add tomato paste to the pan and mix in with onion mixture. Remove the onion mixture from heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the bones and meat from the stock. Discard the bones. Dice the meat and return it to the stock.
  9. Peel and dice potatoes and add to the stock. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until potatoes have softened.
  10. Add the onion mixture to the stock (and potatoes and meat) and adjust seasoning.
  11. Wait until the soup starts to simmer and remove from the heat.
  12. Allow it to sit for couple hours, then reheat and serve with sour cream, olives, slices of lemon and chopped parsley.


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