Romanian soups are wonderful, so good that when we need to choose between two or more types, we are in utter hesitation. That’s because each one is different from the other and great in its own way. Containing a lot of veggies and meat, most of them are closer to stews than soups and can easily take the place of a main course. And we do make a distinction between the word „soup” = not sour, usually clear, and „ciorbă” which is soured and full of vegetables and meat.
Almost every classical or traditional Romanian restaurant has at least 3 types of soup (usually, sour ones) in the menu. Here are the main characteristics of each one:
Dumpling soup is actually a real soup, in that it is not sour as most of the others, and contains mostly liquid and dumplings. Actually, vegetables are also boiled in the water to give it taste, but are removed before serving. The dumplings are made from semolina and egg and it can be quite a challenge to make them of the right size and fluffy, without any lumps.
Homemade noodle/chicken soup is also not sour, and without the veggies which boiled in the water. It can also contain shreds of egg, egg yolk, or a bit of cream.
Tripe soup is definitely not for everyone. Men usually love it more than women, because it’s very fat and consistent and can be used to treat hangovers or instead of a main course. The main ingredients are beef tripe and bones with marrow, egg yolks, heavy cream, garlic and vinegar. Besides these, some vegetables are also boiled in the soup. Also known as the truck/bus driver’s soup 🙂 Recipe here.
Rădăuţeană soup is quite a new creation and we can say it’s authentic Romanian, since the cook who invented it is still alive and working. It’s actually an adaptation of the tripe soup, invented when a cook’s husband wanted a tripe soup…without the tripe. The tripe was replaced with chicken and thus, a lighter soup was born, to be praised and eaten by everyone. Recipe here.
Peasant’s beef soup is usually done with beef meat and bones that have been boiled for a long time, accompanied by veggies such as peas, green beans, potatoes, carrots, celery and onions, as well as noodles. Sometimes, cabbage leaves are also added. It is soured with wheat bran sour liquid (borș) or lemon salt/lemon juice and tomato juice is also added, giving the liquid a reddish color.
Meatball soup is made with finely chopped vegetables, and meatballs with rice in them. If prepared correctly (not too salty or sour), it’s absolutely delicious. Recipe here.
Chicken/pork (smoked or not) soup is prepared similarly to beef soup, with the difference that it doesn’t usually contain peas or green beans.
Potato soup is the same as chicken/pork soup, but instead of meat, potatoes cut in larger pieces are used (it also contains more potato than a meat soup).
Bean soup (simple or with smoked meat) is another delicacy preferred by tourists and locals alike. It can be made just of boiled beans, vegetables and tomato juice, soured with borș or lemon, but the best kind is the one with smoked meat, such as smoked pork ribs or bacon. In certain areas, this soup is served in a bowl made of a round loaf of bread from which a cap was cut, and the middle removed. Recipe here.
Lettuce soup is also prepared with smoked meat. It mainly consists of lettuce leaves, smoked bacon and sour cream, with other variable ingredients.
Fishermen in the Danube Delta say real fish soup should prepared with water taken directly from the Danube. The secret, they say, is to boil in the water a few small fish with the big ones, so they will turn into a thick paste. Vegetables, tomato juice and borș also complete this soup.
Lamb soup is not much different then the other types, although there is one important ingredient besides lamb: red orach leaves. This soup also contains less vegetables (mainly, carrot, potato and onion or leek), because the focus is on the meat’s taste. It’s one of the characteristic Easter recipes in our country.