My mom's recipe for the most delectable meatball soup you'll ever taste – presenting Romanian Meatball Soup, or as we call it, Ciorbă de perişoare.
Hey there, fellow food enthusiasts! Today, we're diving into the heartwarming world of Romanian cuisine, and I've got a delightful treat for you. Imagine a steaming bowl of sour soup that's not just food but a journey through tradition, memories, and the essence of Eastern European flavors. That's right; we're making Romanian Meatball Soup, or as it's lovingly known, Ciorba de Perisoare.
As I stand in my kitchen today, preparing this cherished family recipe, I'm flooded with warm memories of my childhood.
Growing up, my mother was the queen of our kitchen, and her Romanian Meatball Soup, lovingly known as Ciorba de Perisoare, was nothing short of legendary. It was the dish we craved on cold winter evenings and the one that brought our family together at the dinner table.
It's more than just a recipe; it's a piece of my family's history, a link to my Romanian heritage.
- What does “ciorba” mean?
- What does “perisoare” mean?
- Why You’ll Love Romanian Meatball Soup
- What ingredients go in this soup?
- What is Vegeta?
- What is Lovage?
- How to make Romanian Meatball Soup
- What can boost the flavor of meat and vegetables in soup?
- Troubleshooting Q&A:
- Equipment Needed for Romanian Meatball Soup
- OTHER POPULAR SOUP RECIPES TO TRY
What does “ciorba” mean?
Romanians call these type of sour meatball soup “ciorba de perisoare”. "Ciorba" is a traditional Romanian soup prepared with root vegetables, meatballs and herbs. What makes it different from a regular soup is the addition of sour ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, sauerkraut juice, pickled cabbage juice or Romanian “bors”. It is served hot topped with sour cream, chopped parsley, dill and fresh lovage.
What does “perisoare” mean?
“Perisoare” means small meatballs made with ground pork, rice, egg, salt, pepper, dill and parsley. They are boiled in the sour soup “ciorba”. The meatball soup recipe usually involves forming small meatballs, wet hands shaping the mixture into tiny balls. These little bits of delight are then simmered in the sour soup, absorbing all the flavors.
Why You’ll Love Romanian Meatball Soup
- Authentic Romanian Flavors: This recipe captures the true essence of Romanian cuisine, offering a genuine taste experience that's both comforting and nostalgic.
- Hearty and Satisfying: Packed with flavorful meatballs, vegetables, and a savory broth, this soup is a hearty and satisfying meal that leaves you feeling content and nourished.
- Easy Preparation: With straightforward instructions and common ingredients, making this soup is a breeze, even for novice cooks. You can whip up a pot of deliciousness without any fuss.
- Versatile and Adaptable: Feel free to customize this soup to your liking. Whether you prefer it spicier, tangier, or with extra herbs, you can easily adjust the flavors to suit your palate.
- Perfect for Any Occasion: Whether it's a chilly winter evening, a family gathering, or just a comforting weeknight dinner, this Romanian Meatball Soup is the perfect choice to warm both your heart and your belly.
- Make-Ahead and Freezer-Friendly: This soup actually gets better with time, so making it in advance or freezing leftovers is a smart move. It's a time-saving and convenient option for busy days.
- A Taste of Tradition: For those looking to explore the rich culinary heritage of Romania or reminisce about fond memories, this soup serves as a delicious connection to tradition.
- Nutrient-Rich: Filled with wholesome ingredients, this soup provides a good dose of essential nutrients, making it a nourishing choice for your family.
- Satisfies All Ages: From kids to adults, everyone loves a bowl of comforting meatball soup. It's a crowd-pleaser that brings smiles to the faces of all generations.
- A Culinary Adventure: Embark on a delightful journey through the flavors of Romania without leaving your kitchen. It's like a mini vacation for your taste buds!
What ingredients go in this soup?
A handful of fresh vegetables, herbs and meatballs fill this soup with flavour.
A full list of ingredients and measurements is listed below in the recipe card. Here is an overview of the ingredients you need:
For the meatballs:
- Ground Meat: A mixture of ground chicken, ground pork, and ground beef is used to prepare the flavorful meatballs that are the heart of this soup.
- Rice – long grain and uncooked - Rice serves as a hearty and filling component in the soup.
- Eggs – to bind everything together for meatballs
- Parsley and Dill – chopped fresh herbs for flavour
- Seasoning - Salt and Black pepper enhances and balances the overall taste of the soup.
For the soup base:
- Carrots - Carrots add a touch of natural sweetness and vibrant color to the soup, balancing its flavors.
- Parsnips - Parsnip contributes a mildly sweet and earthy flavor, enhancing the overall complexity of the soup.
- Celery root - This root vegetable infuses the soup with earthy notes and a hint of celery-like freshness.
- Parsley Root: Another root vegetable, parsley root, contributes to the soup's complexity with its herbal undertones.
- Red, Green, Yellow, Orange Peppers - Colorful bell peppers add both sweetness and a subtle crunch to the soup.
- Yellow Onion - The aromatic and sweet notes of yellow onion provide a savory base to the soup.
- Potatoes: Potatoes make the soup more filling and substantial, adding a creamy texture and absorbing the delicious broth.
- Olive oil - Used for sautéing and enhancing the soup's overall richness.
- Chicken broth or Water - Used to adjust the soup's consistency and ensure it's neither too thick nor too thin.
- Salt or Vegeta - enhances and balances the overall taste of the soup.
- Ground black pepper - Adds a subtle kick of spiciness to the meatball mixture.
- Parsley and dill - are used to garnish and brighten up the soup with their vibrant green hues and aromatic flavors.
- Sauerkraut Juice: This souring agent adds a tangy kick to the soup, enhancing its unique flavor profile.
- Vinegar: In some variations, vinegar is added to provide additional sourness.
- Lovage – traditional Romanian herb used to create the specific “ciorba” flavour
Seasoning: (optional, but recommended)
A dollop of sour cream, some pickled cabbage juice, and a splash of white wine vinegar transform our hearty soup into a masterpiece of flavors. We garnish our Ciorba de Perisoare with fresh lovage, a beloved herb in Eastern European countries. The vibrant green of lovage and a sprinkle of green onions add a pop of color and freshness to our dish.
- Sour Cream (to taste)
- Lemmon Juice (to taste)A dollop of sour cream, some pickled cabbage juice, and a splash of white wine vinegar transform our hearty soup into a masterpiece of flavors.
What is Vegeta?
In Romanian cuisine, Vegeta is like the secret seasoning that elevates the flavors of many dishes, including this beloved soup.
Vegeta seasoning ist's a versatile seasoning blend originating from Croatia that has found its way into kitchens across Eastern European countries, including Romania. This magic powder is a blend of dehydrated vegetables (such as carrots, onions, and celery), salt, and a selection of herbs and spices. It adds depth, umami, and a savory kick to various dishes, making it a staple in many households. This condiment is popular in many Mediterranean dishes used to add more flavor.
What is Lovage?
Lovage is an beloved herb used especially in southern European cuisine.
Known scientifically as Levisticum officinale, lovage is a perennial herb that belongs to the Apiaceae family, which includes celery, parsley, and carrots.
What sets lovage apart is its robust and complex flavor profile. It carries hints of celery, parsley, and even a touch of anise, making it a versatile herb in the kitchen. In Romanian cuisine, lovage is a treasured ingredient used to add depth and aroma to soups, stews, and various traditional dishes.
For Romanian Meatball Soup (Ciorba de Perisoare), lovage is often included to impart a unique and earthy flavor to the broth. Whether fresh or dried, lovage leaves are used to infuse the soup with their distinct taste, creating a delightful balance with the sour notes from lemon juice or pickled cabbage juice.
When using lovage in your Romanian Meatball Soup, it's essential to start with a small amount, as its flavor can be quite intense. As with any herb, the key is to strike the right balance to enhance the overall taste of the dish.
So, the next time you prepare this hearty Romanian soup, consider adding lovage to your ingredients list. It's the secret herb that elevates the flavors and makes your Ciorba de Perisoare truly authentic and delicious. Enjoy exploring this unique herb and its culinary wonders!
How to make Romanian Meatball Soup
This recipe has easy-to-follow steps:
Prepare the meatballs mixture:
- In a medium bowl add Ground Pork or Beef, Rice, Eggs, Parsley and Dill, Salt and Black pepper.
- Gently combine ingredients by hand, do not overmix. This ensures even distribution of flavors and ingredients. You can add a few teaspoons of water if needed to make the process easier.
Shape the meatballs:
- With wet hands, take small portions of the meat mixture and roll them into small meatballs, typically about 1 inch in diameter. The wet hands will make it easier to shape the meatballs without sticking. Set aside until vegetables are cooked.
Create the soup base:
- Chop onion, carrots, parsnip, celery, peppers and potatoes.
- In a large pot add oil, onion, carrots, parsnip, celery, peppers and potatoes and sauté for about 4-5 minutes.
- Once the veggies become softened add the chicken stock or water and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Add vegeta or salt and pepper to taste.
- Sauté the Vegetables:
- Pour in Broth and Water:
- Pour in the chicken broth and water. Stir well to combine all the ingredients in the pot.
- Season and Add Spices:
- Season the soup base with salt and black pepper to taste. Remember that you can adjust the seasoning later if needed.
- If you want a little heat, add whole hot peppers to the soup. You can remove them later if you prefer less spice.
- Add dried thyme (or fresh thyme if available) and a bay leaf for additional flavor. These herbs complement the soup beautifully.
- Bring the soup to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes. This allows the vegetables to become tender and the flavors to meld together.
Finish the meatball soup:
- Drop the meatballs to the boiling soup (medium heat) and cook for 20 more minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle some parsley and dill into the pot and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Serve and enjoy!
The soup is often served with slices of crusty bread, a traditional accompaniment that perfectly complements the hearty, warming qualities of this dish, especially on a cold day. When you’re ready to serve add the soup to your bowl add a dollop of sour cream and adjust the seasoning (sour cream and lemon) to taste.
And for those chilly months or cold days when you crave a warm and soothing bowl of soup, remember that "ciorba" is your passport to a world of extraordinary flavors and culinary traditions. It's a clear soup that's sure to warm your heart and invigorate your taste buds, making it one of your favorite soups in no time. So, why not give it a try and discover the magic of "ciorba" for yourself?
As with many traditional recipes, there are variations depending on the region and family traditions. Some prefer brown rice instead of uncooked rice, while others opt for short-grain rice for a unique texture. Regardless of the variations, the core concept remains the same – small meatballs simmered in a tangy, flavorful broth.
What can boost the flavor of meat and vegetables in soup?
- Sauté vegetables in oil.
- Use a combination of ground pork and beef or only beef for meatballs.
- Season with Vegeta or bouillon cubes instead of salt. Use a high-quality chicken, beef, or vegetable broth or bouillon cubes to create a flavorful liquid base. You can also make your own broth by simmering meat, bones, and vegetables for an extended period.
- You can add a combination of beaten egg and sour cream into the soup toward the end of the cooking.
- Add black pepper.
- Add lemon juice or vinegar when serving.
- Serve the soup with sour cream, chopped fresh parsley, dill and lovage.
- For a spicy kick serve the soup with hot peppers and fresh crusty bread.
To store: Let the soup to cool completely at room temperature and store leftovers in a container in the fridge up to 4-5 days.
To freeze: Freeze the soup up to 4 months in freezer safe glass container. Leave space in containers as liquid expands as it freezes. Let it thaw in the fridge before reheating. Also you can freeze the soup in individual portions so you can use only what you need.
To reheat: Once frozen you can reheat the soup right away or leave in the fridge overnight to defrost and reheat on the stovetop or microwave.
Should the ground meat be cold or room temperature?
For best results use cold ground meat. It makes it easier to shape the meatballs. Different fat content of different meats will alter the flavor of the meatballs.
Can I use a different meat for the meatballs?
You can use separately or a combination of different ground meats like: pork, beef, veal, chicken, turkey. However beef adds richness to the broth.
Do you need to bake the meatballs?
No, do not bake the meatballs. Traditionally Romanian meatballs are cooked in the soup.
Can I freeze the meatballs before I make the soup?
Yes, you can freeze meatballs on a tray and store they frozen on a Ziploc bag or airtight container. You can add them frozen to boiling soup.
Equipment Needed for Romanian Meatball Soup
- Dutch Oven or Large Pot – to sauté vegetables and prepare the soup
- Large Bowl – to store fresh cut vegetables
- Glass Bowl – to mix meatball ingredients
- Olive wood board – to chop yellow onions and slice the cabbage
- Sharp chef's knife– to chop vegetables
- Olive wood spoon - to sauté vegetables
- Small ice cream scoop – to equally portion meatballs
- Soup Ladle – to ladle the soup into serving bowls
- Serving bowls – to serve the soup
- Soup spoon – to eat the soup
OTHER POPULAR SOUP RECIPES TO TRY
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