I find making soup one of the great pleasures of winter, especially when it is cold and windy outside. The aroma of gently simmering soup slowly cooking on your stove top is comforting. Soups are also a great way to increase the intake of vegetables, being nicely softened and flavored from all the other ingredients. Soups are also a great way to use up any leftover vegetables, although they are even better when vegetables are fresh.
Romanian soup recipes always feature in Romanian restaurants and its little wonder. The winter climate is cold and there are large mountain ranges such as the Carpathian Mountains (in Central Romania) attracting their fair share of snow and wintry weather. There is a 75% chance of a white Christmas in Bucharest and that figure is higher in rural cities such as Brasov.
Also, throw in the fact there are many rural people who work outside in the weather. This includes shepherds, which are a common sight in Romania, even to this day. Agriculture in Romania employs some 7 million workers on 4 million farms. It is also fair to say that there is less farm equipment and more manual labor employed in the country. Romanian meatballs in a soup is an apt meal in rural Romania and it is very popular.
But one of the advantages of working outside is to enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
Glorious Romanian Rural Scenery
Not a lot is known about rural Romania, apart from Dracula, a mythical figure based on Vlad the Impaler, hailing from Transylvania! And this is a shame as the mountain and forest scenery is quite stunning. There are excellent hiking opportunities throughout the country in summer as well as skiing in the winter. And there is the Danube Delta and the Black Sea beaches in the west of the country. Traveling in Romania is very affordable and good value. I would say it is the least expensive country we have visited in Europe. Figure on spending about one third of what you would spend in France or Germany.
In the north east, you can visit the region of Bukovina, with its stunning mountain and forest scenery and magnificent (UNESCO rated) painted monasteries. Did you know Romania has the most forest areas anywhere in Europe except for Russia? There is a proud heritage of looking after the forests and it shows!
PLANNING AN UPCOMING
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Romanian traditions run strong, whether it be food traditions, or traditional dress and dance, or traditional methods of harvesting the forest for timber. And people in this area love to party. Whether it be the local (often homemade) spirit – palinka, beer or wine, there is no shortage of alcohol, singing and dancing.
Romanians love to cook outside, as you can see in this short video. One of the meals they are preparing is mushroom soup, served inside a bread loaf. Not only that you can see some traditional clothing, music and singing. Also, worth noting right at the end of the video is the magnificent whistling from the performer on the far right of the clip. There are no hands involved and the same performer in other songs had long solo efforts. I think listening to this guy whistle was one of the highlights of the trip! And, don’t they just love to enjoy themselves.
By the way, the video in this article was shot in the Bukovina area.
With all those farms in Romania, you are bound to see a multitude of beautiful haystacks, with their unusual shape, dotting the landscape. With green pastures, forested hills and blue skies, it is serene, relaxing to the eye and makes you want to get out there and enjoy it all.
Romanian Meatballs in a Soup
Or should we call that Romanian meatball soup? Well, I can assure you, there are more than one meatball in the soup, so I am sticking with Romanian meatballs in a soup!
Romanian meatballs are rightly popular throughout the country. Usually made from pork, the major meat in Romania, they go well on the outdoor grill to enjoy in the warmer months. But, they also go beautifully in Romanian soup recipes.
In this soup, you will be cooking the meatballs in the hot soup as the other ingredients cook. You are almost poaching them. I like to prepare the meatballs first before cutting up all the vegetables. I can sometimes be guilty of not dicing my vegetables finely enough and going for the rustic, chunky look! However, in this instance, finely dicing your veggies adds to the enjoyment of the soup. After that the task of putting together the soup is pretty straight forward.
I used a combination of ground beef and ground pork. But, feel free to use just one or the other. I use chicken stock but you can also use vegetable stock. As for vegetables, you can use whatever you have on hand, but personally, I love the celery and carrots in this Romanian meatball soup.
As for a garnish, I do like to add chopped celery leaves, as I think they are full of flavor and a shame to throw out. But, parsley also works well. The sour cream is optional. You will achieve a richer taste by using it. But, if you are looking for a lighter touch, then omitting the sour cream is not a problem at all.
Our Romanian meatball soup recipe will yield about 8 servings. I like to freeze some of the leftovers to enjoy a week or two later.