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Low Lectin Meatball Soup, Romanian Style. In the Pressure Cooker.

“Ciorba de perisoare” – that’s how we call this meatball soup in Romania. It’s always been one of our favorites, and everytime we come home we ask my mom to make some for us. Technically, in Romania soup is not exactly the term we use for this type of broth, we rather use the Eastern European term “ciorba”. In Romania, a soup is sweet, while a “ciorba” is more or less sour, depending on taste.

This time I helped my mom to make the soup and took down notes, so I can share it with you. I followed her instructions but changed a few elements to make it more friendly with the Plant Paradox program. For those of you following the program, this is rather a Phase 3 recipe, as it contains tomatoes, peppers and a little bit of rice, but the tomato was peeled and deseeded and I used roasted peppers which were peeled and deseeded too (the lectins are in seeds and peels). And for rice I only used one tablespoon for the whole quntity, which honestly is nothing, unless you are extremely sensitive to rice. Also, I only use one tomato and one pepper. And everything was pressure cooked to reduce lectin content even more. Even if you give up the Phase 3 ingredients, the end result will still be great.

The meatballs are made with pork, about 10% fat, but you can use any type of minced meat. To make it histamine friendly, we only grinded the pork before we made the meatballs, using a meat grinder, as I don’t eat ground meat from the store. If you have histamine sensitivity, or intolerance, a meat grinder is a great investment. The grind for the meatballs has to be fine. We add rice to the meatballs, but it is a very small quantity, and since the whole soup is pressure cooked, I don’t think that’s a problem. I tend to make them a little bigger, but my mom insisted I should make them smaller 😆. They kind of fit in a spoon when you serve the soup and can be had in one bite, but I don’t think it’s a problem if you make them bigger. You also need to roll them really well so there is no air left inside or cracks on the surface, otherwise they might break.

A few words about how you make this soup sour. We used something very popular in Romania (and Eastern Europe in general), call “borsch”. This is the Wikipedia definition: “Borș[1] is a liquid ingredient used in Romanian and Moldovan cuisine to make traditional sour soup called also borș or ciorbă. This ingredient consists of wheat or barleybran, sometimes sugar beet, fermented in water[1] – a slightly yellowish, sour liquid, which can also be drunk as such. Romanian “borș” soup recipes can include various kinds of vegetables and any kind of meat, including fish. “Borș/ciorbă de perișoare” (a broth with meatballs) is quite common. One ingredient required in all recipes by Romanian tradition is lovage leaves, which has a characteristic flavour and significantly improves the soup’s aroma.”

If you don’t have borsch, and don’t feel like trying making your own (it’s fermented so low lectin and there are plenty of recipes online), use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, to your taste. You can even use sauerkraut juice (I do that sometimes). And if you don’t find lovage, parsley is a great replacement.

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Low Lectin Meatball Soup, Romanian Style. In the Pressure Cooker.

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By Claudia Curici Serves: 8
Prep Time: 35 minutes Cooking Time: 40 minutes

A Phase 3 compliant Romania style soup for the whole family. Kids usually love this soup.


  • 1 big carrot
  • 1 big parsnip
  • 1 leek
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 small celeriac
  • 2, 3 celery ribs with leaves
  • 1 tomato, peeled and deseeded
  • About 1/2 cup roasted pepper (peeled and deseeded, you can use the one in stores)
  • 2 white potatoes, peeled and cubed, bigger size than the rest of the veggies (can be skipped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Bors / apple cider vinegar / lemon juice / sauerkraut juice to your taste
  • 1 lbs finely ground pork about 10% fat (can be replaced with chicken or beef)
  • 1 tablespoon rice, uncooked (can be skipped but they make the meatballs more airy)
  • one small onion, grated or ground in the meat grinder after you are done with the meat
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • fresh lovage or parsley
  • sour cream (optional)



Peel and deseed the tomato and chop all the vegetables.


Add about 3 litres of water to your pressure cooker / Instant Pot, add the vegetables and bring to a boil (don't add the lid yet).


Grind the meat if you don't use already ground. Grind or grate the onion.


In a bowl mix well the pork (meat / chicken) with the egg, onion, rice, salt and pepper. Shape them in small balls (the size that can fit in the spoon you will serve the soup with), making sure there is no air left inside or cracks on the surface.


When the liquid is boiling, add the meatballs one by one to the boiling soup. Add more salt and pepper (you can always add more later).


Close the lid of the pressure cooker / Instant Pot and pressure cook for for about 40 minutes.


Release pressure and adjust for spices and add the souring liquid you are using.


Add fresh lovage or parsley to the pot and serve. If you eat dairy you can serve with sour cream.


Leftovers can be frozen if you are histamine sensitive or can be kept in the fridge for 2 days.

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