Ciorbă (Romanian, derived from the Persian shorba (شوربا) via Turkish çorba) is a general Romanian word used in Romania and the Republic of Moldova to describe sour soups consisting of various vegetables and meat.
Most people differentiate between “supă” (soup) and “ciorbă” by the fact that supă has no added acid and is usually clear (with only one exception), while ciorbă may contain a wide variety of sour ingredients, usually lemons, borș, or zeamă de varză acră (sauerkraut juice). In Moldavia region, the word borș means simply any sour soup. Lovage is a frequent addition.
Ciorbă is a widespread and popular dish in Romania, and is considered to have beneficial health effects. When served hot, it is thought to stimulate digestion and be effective against colds.
In 2013, 18% of respondents in a national poll in Romania declared ciorbă to be their favorite dish.
Types of ciorbă include:
Ciorbă de burtă (tripe soup)
Ciorbă de fasole (bean soup)
Ciorbă de cartofi (potato soup)
Ciorbă de ciocănele (soup made from chicken legs)
Ciorbă de perişoare (meatball soup)
Ciorbă de peşte (fish soup)
Ciorbă de praz (leek soup)
Ciorbă de pui (chicken soup)
Ciorbă de oase (bones soup)
Ciorbă de sfeclă (Romanian borscht)
Ciorbă de văcuţă (beef soup)
Lovage is an unusual herb, which belongs to the parsley family that is commonly used in Romanian cuisine. The Romans, who introduced lovage to Europe, used it widely in their cooking as well as to reduce fevers and treat stomach ailments. Germans call it maggikraut, because its aroma reminded them of maggi cubes (meaty yeast extracts). Today it is popular in South and Central European cuisines.
True lovage is native to Southern Europe but cultivated in western Asia, Germany, Italy, France, Czechia, Hungary, and the United States.
Also known as sea parsley, the leaves and stem of the lovage plant add an intense celery-like flavor to soups, stews and stocks or pork and poultry dishes. It can also be used to enhance the flavor of potato dishes.
The fresh leaves have a sharp, yeast-like and musky taste with a lemon and celery-like aroma. The dried leaves have a stronger flavor than the fresh leaf. You can buy excellent-quality dried Lovage here.
I also tweaked some of the other ingredients from the original recipe I found at forums.egullet.org, and added in some kielbasa (traditional in the Winter version of the soup) and delicious Balkan smoked chili flakes – you can buy the flakes here.
I have every confidence you will love this delicious cold-weather treat, !
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 180 g dry small white beans, soaked in water overnight
- a pinch of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 bay leaves, one for each pot of bean cooking
- chicken stock for last soaking of beans
- 1 large red pepper
- 1 medium onion
- 3 large leafy celery stalks, de-stringed (reserve the leaves separately – chop the leaves first)
- 1 parsley root, peeled (you can use a parsnip or more carrots instead, but TFD strongly recommends seeking this out!)
- 2 small peeled carrots
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 ½ tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- To finish:
- 1 ½ teaspoons hot Hungarian paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
- 3 small garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- A sprinkling of smoked chili flakes, to taste
- 10 tarragon leaves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon finely-ground dried lovage (optional but recommended)
- 1 Hillshire Farm Polish kielbasa link, cut up and fried in a pan
- To serve:
- Red onion, finely chopped, mixed with a little white wine vinegar or zeamă de varză acră (sauerkraut juice – this is very much preferred over vinegar) and salt
- Sour cream
- Light country/seeded bread, not sliced – before serving, put it (or a portion) in a low oven and bake until crisp on the outside
- Sour pickles
- Choose beans, rinse and leave it in a bowl with cold water overnight. The next day, drain the beans and discard the water.
- To succeed with a bean recipe, it is very important that you learn this: beans should be boiled in 3 different rounds of liquid (when boiling in the last round, use stock not water, and you should add a pinch of bicarbonate to help with cooking and digestion).
- Put water to boil in a pot. Add the beans and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile boil the second water in a separate pot.
- Drain beans, discard the first round of water. Now, add beans to the second pot of hot water. Let it simmer for another 15 minutes and again, discard the water.
- In a third pot, cover beans with boiling chicken stock (stock level should be just above the layer of beans). Add the pinch of baking soda and stir.
- Cut all the vegetables into small cubes. Keep aside the celery leaves (check that they are not bitter, if they are, discard them).
- In a large pot, heat the butter.
- Add the chopped vegetables (pepper, carrot, parsley root, onion, celery) and sauté while stirring over medium heat until the vegetables soften, but are not browned.
- Add the garlic and flour and mix well until it is absorbed.
- Add the tomato paste, salt, smoked chili flakes and celery leaves.
- Add the beans with their final cooking liquid.
- Add more chicken stock as needed.
- Mix well, add the sautéed kielbasa slices, cover, and cook until the vegetables soften.
- Add vinegar, paprikas, crushed garlic, tarragon, lovage, celery leaves, parsley and dill.
- Serve very hot, accompanied by vinegar onions, pickles, sour cream and bread.
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