Ciorbă de Perișoare – Romanian Meatball Soup

A bowl of Ciorbă de Perișoare soup with meatballs and a cup of tea. pinit

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Ciorbă de Perișoare is a traditional Romanian soup that embodies the rich and diverse flavors of Romanian cuisine. This hearty and comforting dish features tender meatballs, made from a delightful blend of ground meat, rice, and aromatic herbs, swimming in a tangy and savory vegetable broth. Ciorbă de Perișoare is a beloved classic, often served during family gatherings, special occasions, and holidays. The combination of fresh vegetables, fragrant herbs, and succulent meatballs creates a harmony of taste and texture that will leave you craving more. In this blog post, we’ll take you on a culinary journey to Romania as we explore the history and significance of Ciorbă de Perișoare, guide you through the step-by-step process of preparing this delightful soup, and offer tips and variations to make it your own. Let’s dive into the world of Romanian comfort food and discover the heartwarming flavors of Ciorbă de Perișoare!

Ciorbă de Perișoare is a traditional Romanian soup known for its comforting and hearty qualities. Its origins trace back to Romania’s rich culinary history, where soups have played a significant role for generations. The word “ciorbă” itself refers to a category of sour soups that are prevalent in Romanian cuisine.

The dish features small meatballs, often made from a mixture of ground pork and beef, floating in a flavorful and slightly tangy broth. The broth’s sourness typically comes from ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, or fermented wheat bran called “borsch.” The addition of vegetables such as carrots, onions, and parsley root adds depth to the soup’s flavor.

Ciorbă de Perișoare is a beloved part of Romanian culinary heritage, often prepared for family gatherings and special occasions. Its combination of simple ingredients and bold flavors represents the essence of Romanian comfort food.

Ciorbă de Perișoare – Romanian Meatball Soup

Ciorbă de Perișoare is a traditional Romanian sour soup that marries the richness of meatballs with the zesty tanginess of fermented wheat bran or sour brine. The meatballs, known as perișoare, are made from a mixture of ground meat (commonly beef and pork), rice, finely chopped onions, and a medley of fresh herbs such as parsley and dill. The broth is the soul of this dish, crafted from a blend of root vegetables, including carrots, parsnips, and celery, and seasoned with bay leaves, peppercorns, and fresh parsley. To achieve its signature sour taste, the broth is infused with either borș, a fermented wheat bran liquid, or a combination of vinegar and lemon juice.

Tools and Equipment

Prep Time 30 mins Cook Time 1 hr Total Time 1 hr 30 mins Difficulty: Intermediate Servings: 6 Calories: 341.28 Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


For the Meatballs (Perișoare):

For the Soup:

Step-by-Step Instructions

Prepare the Meatballs (Perișoare):

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and ground pork.

  2. Add the uncooked rice, finely chopped onion, minced garlic, fresh parsley, and dill to the meat mixture.

  3. Crack an egg into the bowl to bind the ingredients together.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients until well combined.

Shape the Meatballs:

  1. Dampen your hands with water to prevent sticking.

  2. Take a small portion of the meat mixture and roll it between your palms to form a smooth meatball, about the size of a walnut.

  3. Repeat the process until all the meat mixture is used, forming approximately 20-25 meatballs.

Sear the Meatballs (Optional):

  1. For added flavor, you can choose to sear the meatballs in a skillet with a drizzle of vegetable oil until they are lightly browned on the outside. However, this step is optional, and you can directly add the meatballs to the soup if preferred.

Prepare the Vegetables:

  1. Peel and dice the carrots, parsnips, and celery.

  2. Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic.

Cook the Soup Base:

  1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.

  2. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, and sauté until the onion becomes translucent and the garlic becomes fragrant.

Add the Vegetables:

  1. Add the diced carrots, parsnips, and celery to the pot, and sauté for a few minutes until they start to soften.

Pour in the Broth:

  1. Add the bay leaf to the pot.

  2. Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth, and bring the mixture to a boil.

Add the Meatballs:

  1. Gently add the meatballs to the boiling broth, making sure they are evenly distributed.

  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and let the soup cook for about 30-40 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the rice is tender.

Infuse the Sour Flavor:

  1. If you're using borș, pour it into the soup to give it the characteristic sour taste. If you don't have borș, you can use a combination of vinegar and lemon juice for the same effect.

Season and Garnish:

  1. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

  2. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over the top for a burst of color and added freshness.

Serve the Ciorbă de Perișoare:

  1. Ladle the hot soup into individual serving bowls.

  2. Accompany the soup with crusty bread or Romanian mămăligă (cornmeal porridge) for a hearty and satisfying meal.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 341.28kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21.3g33%
Saturated Fat 6.55g33%
Trans Fat 0.45g
Cholesterol 85.75mg29%
Sodium 1109.29mg47%
Potassium 466.57mg14%
Total Carbohydrate 21.44g8%
Dietary Fiber 4.65g19%
Sugars 4.39g
Protein 17.82g36%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Please note that the nutritional values provided are approximate and may vary depending on the specific ingredients and portion sizes used. It's always best to double-check with your specific ingredients and measurements for accurate nutritional information.


Tips and Variations:
  • Vegetarian Option: For a vegetarian version, omit the meatballs and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. You can add extra vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, or zucchini for added flavor and texture.
  • Sour Flavor: If you can't find borș, you can use sauerkraut juice or even pickled cucumber brine as a substitute to achieve the sour taste.
  • Cook Time: The cooking time may vary depending on the size of the meatballs and the thickness of the vegetables. Ensure that the meatballs are cooked through and the rice is tender before serving.
  • Make It Ahead: Ciorbă de Perișoare tastes even better the next day as the flavors have a chance to meld. You can make a large batch and store the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Serving Suggestions:
  • Ciorbă de Perișoare is a complete meal on its own and can be enjoyed as a main course. Serve it with Romanian mămăligă or crusty bread on the side.
  • Add a dollop of sour cream or a spoonful of smântână (Romanian sour cream) to enhance the creaminess of the soup.
  • Accompany the soup with a fresh Romanian salad on the side for a balanced and satisfying meal.
Allergen Information:

Ciorbă de Perișoare is generally allergen-friendly due to its simple ingredients. However, it's essential to be aware of potential allergens in your specific recipe or ingredient choices. Here are some considerations:

  • Meat Allergies: If you or your guests have meat allergies, consider making a vegetarian version of the soup using meatless meatballs or tofu-based alternatives.
  • Gluten Allergies: Some meatball recipes may include breadcrumbs as a binder. Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or substitutes like rice flour if needed.
  • Sourness Sources: Check the sources of sourness in the soup. Lemon juice or vinegar is common, but some variations may use fermented wheat bran (borsch). Ensure these ingredients are safe for everyone.
Wine or Drink Pairing:

Pairing beverages with Ciorbă de Perișoare can enhance your dining experience. Here are some options:

  • White Wine: A crisp and slightly acidic white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio complements the soup's tangy notes. The wine's acidity complements the sourness of the broth.
  • Mineral Water: Many Romanians enjoy their soups with carbonated mineral water, which can cleanse the palate between spoonfuls and refresh the taste buds.
  • Herbal Tea: If you prefer a non-alcoholic option, consider a soothing herbal tea like chamomile or mint. These teas can balance the richness of the meatballs and broth.
Storage and Leftovers:

Ciorbă de Perișoare can be reheated and enjoyed later. Here's how to store and handle leftovers:

  • Refrigeration: Allow the soup to cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to three to four days.
  • Reheating: Reheat the soup gently on the stovetop over low to medium heat. Be cautious not to bring it to a rolling boil, as this may overcook the meatballs.
  • Separate Components: Consider storing any remaining meatballs and broth separately to maintain their texture and flavor. Reheat them together when serving.
  • Freshness: While Ciorbă de Perișoare can be reheated, it's best enjoyed freshly prepared to savor its vibrant flavors and the tender texture of the meatballs.
Keywords: Ciorbă de Perișoare, Romanian meatball soup, sour soup, perișoare, Romanian cuisine, comfort food, traditional recipe.

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