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Romanian Style Beef Soup (Ciorbă de Văcuță)

You can take the girl out of Romania but you can’t take Romania out of the girl, they say (haha). One of the most iconic culinary habits in Romania, at least if you ask me, is having soup at every meal, except breakfast, but some people even do that (my dad used to).  So soup is one food I miss the most. I’ve been wanting to make one Romanian style soup for a while so today, after speaking with my sister and talking about Romanian food, I felt motivated and inspired to make a lectin-free version of the traditional Romanian beef soup.

Soup, Romanian Soul Food

I decided on beef soup, mainly because I had one jar of beef bone stock in my freezer I wanted to use. And because my fridge was almost empty, I went to the store and I bought carrots, parsnip, yellow onion, celery root that luckily had the leaves too, parsley, one Japanese sweet potato (the one that is purple outside and has white flesh), some new sauerkraut from Barrel Creek Provisions and broccoli. And because I didn’t want to use the steak I had in the freezer, I also bought a piece of grass fed beef after asking for advise from the butcher. I was recommended something called loin tri tip roast, which ended up being perfect (it cooked quite fast and it was tender).

Soups in Romania have many variations, depending on regions and even households, and this one is traditionally made with peas and green beans, some use red peppers and add tomatoes towards the end (which are all lectin rich foods), so I skipped them all. Broccoli is a great replacement for peas and green beans and tomatoes and peppers are not really needed. The rest of the ingredients are pretty much necessary. Don’t skip the bones (or bone broth) either, it’s what gives depth of taste to this soup. You will notice there are not much spices in this soup because all the root veggies and herbs are so fragrant and add so much taste, there is no need for anything more. I didn’t even feel the need to add pepper, but if you want is a good addition. Sauerkraut is not something that traditionally goes in this soup, although some recipes use it (especially the juice), but since we are not using tomatoes we need to add something sour. The sauerkraut from Barrel Creek Provisions tastes the closest to how the Romanian one does, that’s why I choose it. Unfortunately, they are still a small business out of Austin, Texas, so they might not be present in all the states. Just get the best you can find in your market.

The sour cream and egg are optional, but I love to finish my soups this way, so I decided to add them. Some people don’t use them at all, some use 4 yolks and much more sour cream, I chose 1 yolk and about 4 tbsp of sour cream, but I say go with your gut feeling. My husband add more sour cream when eating, I like it the way it is.

Romanian Style Beef Soup (Ciorbă de Văcuță)

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By Claudia Curici Serves: 6
Prep Time: 40 minutes Cooking Time: 2 hours

A lectin-free version of the traditional Romanian beef soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 - 1.5 lbs grass-fed beef ( I used a loin tri tip roast, cut in bite pieces)
  • 28 oz (about 1 liter) bone broth / stock OR use some bones when boiling the meat
  • 1 big carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 big celery root, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium Japanese sweet potato, peeled and cubed (keep it in cold water otherwise will turn black)
  • about 1 cup sauerkraut with juice (to taste)
  • 1 handful of celery leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 or 2 pastured egg yolks (optional)
  • about 4 tbsp sour cream (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • water

Instructions

1

If you have compliant bone broth or stock, put the pieces of meat in water and bring to a boil, until the foam separates. At this point I throw the water, rinse the meat, wash the soup pot and restart with the bone broth and complete with cold water. If you don't have bone broth and using bones with the meat, add them all at the same time and do the same thing with the foam. Then put them back in the pot with clean water. Boil until the meat is 3/4 cooked (it will depend on the quality of your meat, mine boiled taste than I expected).

2

While the meat is boiling, prepare all the veggies. Carrots, parsnip, celery root and onion, they should all be chopped in really small cubes, trying to make them all about the same size. The sweet potato should be chopped in bigger cubes. Prepare the parsley and celery leaves, but don't chop them until the end. Chop the broccoli in bite sizes pieces.

3

When the meat is almost done, add the carrots, onion, celery root, parsnip and sweet potato. Let everything boil on low heat until vegetables are cooked (about 30, 40 minutes). Add the sauerkraut, the broccoli, celery leaves and parsley. Add salt to taste.

4

If you want to finish the soup with sour cream and egg, whisk them well in a separate bowl, gradually add some of the hot soup to the bowl and mix, until the mix becomes warm. Add the warm mix to the soup pot, stirring.

Notes

This makes for a full 4 QT soup pot (about 4 liters).

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