Romanian Veal Soup...Ciorba de Vitel Ok, since I had my parents over for a visit, I decided to take advantage of my mom's expertise in regards to Romanian food. What better way than to watch her make her own variation of the veal soup. We absolutely loved this soup while growing up. My mom's soups are the best! Ok, so maybe I am a little biased 'cause she's my mom, but I do believe she makes the best soups around. Her soups are unique in that she starts the soup by making a stock first. This I believe, gives her soups a ton of flavor. I ended up watching her make the soup and jotted down the recipe as a future reference for myself and maybe for some of you who would like to try it. I know my mom used all sorts of veal cuts when I was younger ( veal breast with bone-in was a favorite...most soups benefit from some type of bone, as it gives the soup depth and flavor) but, since I could only find the osso bucco, that is what she used. Most Romanian meat soups are finished off with some sort of sour element...lemon juice, pickled cabbage juice, bors or even citric acid(sare de lamie). Here in the states, I have only used lemon juice...it works wonderfully well. It sort of brings all the flavors together. It is the lemon juice that sets the soup apart from other similar soups...the soup is often called "sour" soup.
A typical Romanian will eat the soup with hot peppers and crusty french bread. Some add a bit of sour cream...we never did. This type of soup was always a part of our meals...as a first course. It was(and still is) especially popular in Romania. A bowl of hot meat soup would fill and warm you up quite nicely... especially during the harsh cold winters( in the summer, the soups were often more vegetable based). Hot peppers were great alongside a bowl of soup. As the soup gets to sit for another day, the flavors become even more pronounced.... It actually tastes much better the following day. But, we always have a bowl of soup right after it is made:).
I am so glad I was able to cook alongside my mom. It was a blessing to watch her prepare the soup that we so enjoyed while growing up. Now, I fully appreciate all the hard work and love that went into taking care of us ...as well as feeding us wonderful meals. Glad I had the chance to jot down the recipe for this Romanian veal soup. You will often find quite a few variations for this meat soup, but we really enjoy my mom's version. Even my dad gave it a thumbs up:)! Hope you enjoy....
You will need:
For the stock:
4 osso bucco pieces(more on the meaty side)
13 cups of water(approx)
1 large tomato
2 celery stalks
1 heaping TBS kosher salt
Finishing the soup ingredients:
1/4 of a celery stick, small dice
1/2 of a carrot, small dice
1 wedge of each red,yellow,orange bell peppers( you can use just red), small dice
1 green onion, sliced
1 roma tomato( you can use a regular tomato as well), small dice
1-2 tsp tomato paste
salt to taste
2 TBS +/- lemon juice(this depends on taste)
green onion/chives, sliced
hot jalapeno peppers
crusty french bread
Making the stock:
Wash the veal and place in a large soup pot. Add the veal pieces and enough water to almost reach the top(about 13 cups). Add a heaping TBS of kosher salt. Bring to boil and skim off the scum that accumulates. add the vegetables and reduce the heat to simmer. Cover the pot. Cook for about 2 hours....the meat should be very tender. Strain the soup.
Place the stock back in the pot. Cut the veal meat off of the bones. You can leave them in larger chunks or bite-size pieces. Add the meat to the soup. Also, add the diced vegetables and tomato paste. If you notice that the soup has drastically reduced(more than half of the liquid...it shouldn't reduced too much if you kept it covered) you can add a bit of water. Don't add too much as it will dilute the stock. Adjust seasoning...you might need a bit of salt. Bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer and continue to cook for an additional 20-30 minutes( or so).
During the last 10 minutes add a few broken pieces of spaghetti pasta and the lemon juice. Garnish with sliced green onions, parsley/ lovage(leustean) or even cilantro.
Ok, I know cilantro is not traditional , but we love it! The soup tastes better the next day as the flavors are more pronounced. You can also skim off the fat that settles on top.