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Loaded with fresh dill, and spiked with sour cream, this Romanian beef soup, called Ciorbă de văcuță, is distinctly Eastern European. I personally fell in love with that sour cream & dill combination while living in Russia during my college years. Fresh yet comforting, tangy, rich, and aromatic – these are the flavors that, in my mind, define cuisine from that part of the world.
My fellow Food Revolution ambassador, Ruxandra Banu, shared this delicious recipe – straight from her mother’s kitchen, even! It’s chunky, hearty, full of flavor, and happens to be quite easy to make. How can you go wrong with that?
According to Ruxandra, versions of this soup can be found in every region and almost every restaurant in Romania. I did a bit of research myself on this popular soup, and discovered that the meat is often boiled first, then cut into chunks to add to the soup. I chose to cut the meat first, then brown it for extra flavor. Golden, brown, and delicious always makes me happy! 😉 Ruxandra suggests using whatever veggies you have around – no need to be precise. As always, the following recipe is simply a guide to inspire you!
What you need to serve 4-ish
- A lug of olive oil
- 1 pound beef eye of round steak, cut into bitesize pieces (substitute any stew meat if you can’t find eye of round, but keep in mind that cooking times will vary)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large onion, diced
- Half a stick of celery, diced
- 4 cups water, or use veggie or beef broth for more flavor
- 1 bunch or more of fresh dill, roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into bitesize pieces
- 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bitesize pieces
- Sour cream to garnish
What to do
- Heat a lug of olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat.
- Meanwhile, season the beef with salt and pepper to taste. Once the oil is hot, add the beef to the pot, and brown on all sides.
- Once the beef is browned, reduce the heat to medium, add the diced onion and celery, and cook until they begin to soften.
- Add the water or broth to the pot, along with half the fresh dill. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen all the delicious browned bits. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the meat is almost tender – about 1 & 1/2 hours.
- When the meat is almost tender, add in the bell pepper, parsnip, and potatoes. Continue cooking until the meat is luxuriously tender, and the potatoes and parsnips are cooked through – about another 30 minutes. (BTW – when I made this soup, I added in all the veggies at the beginning. It was absolutely delicious, but the veggies were a bit over-soft. All that to say – this soup is very forgiving – you really can’t go wrong!)
- Taste the soup for salt and pepper, and adjust as desired.
- Stir in the remaining fresh dill, less a few bits for garnish.
- Dish up the soup, garnish with a dollop of sour cream and dill, and enjoy! Yumm!
(Bon appetit in Romanian)
About our contributor, Ruxandra Banu ~
“After seven years working in multinational corporations I decided to completely change my life: I quit smoking, started doing sports, and quit eating fast food and consuming carbonated drinks. Now, two years later, I am a certified fitness instructor and passionate cook, living a healthy, much happier life. I am at the beginning of the most beautiful journey, which nurtures my body, mind and spirit. Through my Facebook page, Healthy & Fit, I wish to share my knowledge and experience and inspire others to make healthy lifestyle choices.”
See what Ruxandra is up to at Facebook.com/Healthy-Fit-1615023845402298