Romanian Meatballs Sour Soup or Ciorba de Perisoare is one of the most traditional soups of Romanian cuisine, the glory of the soups and the pride of every Romanian cook.
“Perisoare” means meatballs usually made with minced pork, beef, or 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 perfect. I also think that soup is the best way to eat healthier during the cold season.
What is “ciorba”?
Romanian cuisine has many soup recipes, “ciorba” being the sour version. To say it better, a “ciorba” is a soup, but not every Romanian soup is ciorba.
These soups are made with vegetables and meat. What makes them different is the addition of vinegar, lemon juice, or sauerkraut juice. Sour cream is also used in abundance to complement the “ciorba.”
One of the most traditional herbs to flavor the Romanian sour soups is the lovage. I know you can find it in the US, but personally, I never saw it in my area.
I usually bring dried lovage from Romania when I visit or order it online on Amazon (affiliated link) when available.
We make this Romanian Meatballs Sour Soup all year round. However, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are perfect opportunities to make this soup, as people believe that sour soups work perfectly for a hangover.
HOW TO MAKE ROMANIAN MEATBALLS SOUR SOUP (CIORBA DE PERISOARE):
The recipe for this soup is an easy one. It all starts with cleaning and chopping the vegetables: onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes. You can use green celery or celery root, whatever you have available or like.
You can also add bell pepper, any color you like. I like the red ones, as they are sweeter and bring a pop of color to the soup.
Separate the potatoes from the rest of the vegetables, as we will use them a little bit later. Potatoes cook faster than other root vegetables, so for this reason, they go later in the pot.
In a large soup pot, add the oil and saute the vegetables for a few minutes, enough to develop the flavors.
Add water or chicken broth (I prefer low sodium) and also the tomato paste or sauce. This soup is not a fancy one. Therefore, please feel free to use what you have in the pantry.
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 into cubes.
While the soup is simmering, we will prepare the meatballs.
In a bowl, mix the ground meat (beef, pork, or a mixture of them), uncooked rice, egg, parsley, salt, and pepper. Combine all the ingredients 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 the soup.
Allow the soup to simmer for 10-15 minutes, so the rice and the meat get cooked. Taste for salt. Chop some fresh parsley and add it to the soup.
Serve hot with fresh slices of bread.
How to make the soup sour:
Add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to the soup. Taste and add some more as you like. You are the boss, and you can make it more or less sour based on your preference. Add little by little to make sure you don’t sour it too much.
Serve it with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt. It also goes well with spicy, hot peppers, like the ones in this recipe.
Leftovers are good for 3-4 days, kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground meat (pork, beef or a mixture of both)
- 1/4 cup uncooked rice (long grain)
- 1/2 chopped small onion
- 1/4 bunch of parsley
- salt and pepper
- 1 egg
For the soup:
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 carrots chopped in cubes
- 2-3 celery stalks chopped (or one small celery root chopped in small cubes)
- 1 diced onion (or 2-3 diced green onions)
- 1 medium bell pepper (any color you like) chopped
- 3-4 chopped in cubes medium potatoes
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce or 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 8 cups water or chicken broth
- 1/2 bunch parsley chopped (or lovage-as it is traditional)
- 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 except for the potatoes. The potatoes cook faster than the other vegetables, so they go into the pot 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, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add tomato paste or tomato sauce and cubed potatoes.
- Meanwhile, place the ground meat, rice, egg, chopped onion, parsley, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
- Mix everything 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 it over the soup.
- To make the soup sour:
- Add two 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.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 354Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 345mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 21g