That’s Romanian for “meatball soup”

Show me the meatballs!

I recently took a trip to visit my sister in Romania. I could bore you with the written version of our slide show, but I will save our adventures for another day. You may wonder what exactly the food is like in Romania, because… wait, where is that again? “Somewhere in Eastern Europe” is not incorrect, but a lot of people don’t even realize that Romania is on the Black Sea coast just north of Bulgaria. This creates a very unique blend to the cuisine, drawing from both Eastern European, Hungarian and Mediterranean influences. It certainly felt Mediterranean as just about every house has grape vines adorning the front yard. (Romania also houses some excellent wine country.)

A little piece of Romanian wine country. I think grapes only grow where the countryside is beautiful. Persnickety little grapes!

A little piece of Romanian wine country. I think grapes only grow where the countryside is beautiful. Persnickety little grapes!

As usual, as distinctive as the cuisine from any place may be I have yet to visit a place that isn’t really “fusion” with different branding. The cuisine is as meaty as a lot of Eastern European food, but with less bread/dough and more lemon, like in the Mediterranean. Ciorba de Perisoare isn’t quite the national dish like Ciorba de Burta, a sour tripe soup. While Ciorba de Burta is delicious and I do eat tripe, I do not prep entrails. I do do a lot, but i do not do doo doo. For a much simpler national dish, their meatball soup is just as popular and just as delicious. Ciorba typically involves an ingredient called “bors” (aka fermented wheat bran). As this is somewhat difficult to find in the US without mail ordering, I’ve used lemon. This makes a surprisingly bright yet comforting what I like to call “year-round-soup” because it’s good even in the summertime.

Ciorba de perisoare

Serves 12
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Website Jo Cooks

Ingredients

meatballs

  • 2lb ground venison
  • 1 Large onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Large onion (diced)
  • 4 carrots (diced)
  • 4 stalks celery (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 12-14 cups water or broth (enough to cover meatballs and give them ample room)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • zest and juice of two lemons
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Step 1
Cook the rice according to package instructions, then set aside to let cool. (Chop vegetables while waiting on rice to save time.) Combine all the meatball ingredients and roll into balls. Any size is fine, however, keep in mind larger ones will take a little longer to cook through.
Step 2
Heat oil in a big soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until translucent. Add the minced garlic and continue to cook another few minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Then carefully add the meatballs and keep boiling until they are cooked. (Meatballs will rise to the top when cooked through.) Add the tomato paste, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper and simmer another 20 minutes. Once done simmering, whisk the soup while slowly streaming in the 2 beaten eggs. Serve warm with crusty bread and garnish with sour cream.
Non-game substitution: You can really use whatever ground meat you like, but I bet lamb would be pretty kick ass in this.
Vegetarian substitution: Normally I don’t have a veg friendly replacement for meatballs, but this soup is more about the tang of the broth than anything special about the meatballs, so if you know of a good brand of vegetarian meatballs or sausage I say give it a try and throw ’em in there!
Posted in Venison
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