Romanian meatballs sour soup or Ciorba de Perisoare is one of the most traditional soups of the Romanian cuisine, the glory of the soups and the pride of every Romanian cook. “Perisoare” means meatballs usually made with minced pork, beef or a combination of both mixed with rice, egg and spices, then boiled in the soup, or ciorba.
We eat many soups in this family because we live in a cold climate where hearty soups are the perfect meal. I also think that soup in general, is one of the best way to consume vegetables and meat in a healthy way. Romanian cuisine has lots of soups and ciorbe, “ciorba” being the sour version of the soup. We make them sour by using vinegar, lemon juice, sauerkraut juice etc. We also use a lot of sour cream to complement the “ciorba”.
One of the most traditional herb to use in the Romanian sour soups is the lovage that is really difficult to find in United States. I usually bring dried lovage from Romania when I visit, or order online on Amazon, when available.
How to make it:
The soup is not very complicated to put together. All starts with cleaning and chopping the vegetables. Onions, carrots, celery.
In a soup pot add the oil and saute the vegetable for few minutes just to develop their flavors. Do not add the potatoes. They cook faster than the rest of the vegetables, therefore we will add them to the soup a little bit later.
Add also the tomato paste. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to a medium low. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are half cooked. Now you can add the potatoes cut in cubes.
Meanwhile, we can start the meatballs. In a bowl, mix the ground meat(beef, pork, or both), rice, egg, parsley and salt and pepper.
Combine everything together to obtain a paste. With wet hands, grab a dollop of the ground meat mixture and roll it between your palms to create a meatball.
Keeping your hands wet, drop the meatballs into your soup.
Let the soup simmer for 10-15 minutes so the rice and the meat gets cooked. Taste for salt. Chop some parsley and add it to your soup.
To make the soup sour:
Add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. Taste and add some more as you like. Serve it with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt. It also goes well with hot peppers, like the ones in this recipe.
- For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground meat (pork, beef or a mixture of both)
- ¼ cup rice
- ½ chopped small onion
- ¼ bunch of parsley
- salt and pepper
- 1 egg
- For the soup:
- 2-3 carrots chopped in cubes
- 2-3 celery stalks chopped
- 1 diced onion(or 2-3 diced green onions)
- 1-2 peppers(any color you like) chopped
- 3-4 chopped in cubes medium potatoes
- tomato paste or tomato sauce
- 8 cups water or chicken broth
- ½ bunch parsley chopped (or lovage-as it is traditional)
- 1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
- Optional: hot peppers, sour cream or yogurt for serving.
- Clean and chop all vegetables.
- In a soup pot, pour oil and add the chopped vegetables minus the potatoes. The potatoes cook faster than the other vegetables, so they will go in the pot a little bit later.
- Saute the vegetables until they develop the flavor, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add water or chicken broth.
- Simmer the soup until the vegetables are half cooked.
- Add tomato paste or tomato sauce and the cubed potatoes.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, place the ground meat, rice, egg, chopped onion, chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
- Mix everything together to incorporate all the ingredients and make a paste. Set aside.
- With wet hands, grab a dollop of the meat mixture and roll it between your palms to create a meatball.
- Keeping your hands wet, drop the meatballs into the soup.
- Let the soup simmer for 10-15 minutes so the meatballs get cooked.
- Taste for salt.
- Chop some parsley and sprinkle over the soup.
- To make the soup sour:
- Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. Taste and add some more as you prefer.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and hot peppers.