Improvised Romanian Lamb Soup

  • Difficulty: Easy to medium
  • Estimated cooking/prep time: 1-1.5hrs
  • Cuisine: Romanian

Both Kokoro and I normally don’t fancy lamb dishes, and rarely buy the meat. There are however two big exceptions. The first one is one of the most typical Romanian barbecue dishes – mici, which is a mix of minced meats that sometimes contains lamb or mutton meat, but that’s a story for another time.

The second is this common Romanian lamb soup that you can easily try out for yourself!

This is our family’s version of it, but feel free to be creative with the vegetables and spices based on your own tastes. This recipe should be enough for 4-8 bowls depending on whether you’re eating it as a side dish, or a main course.

For ingredients you’ll need:

  • Lamb meat (350-500g) →we usually just buy a pack of diced lamb to avoid any hassle, but any good piece of lamb leg or some other fatty piece will do. Lamb can be quite expensive in many countries, but the good news is you don’t need the fanciest pack!
  • Choice of vegetables, peeled and diced (adjust as you please) →for example, we use one onion, 2-3 small/medium potatoes, 1-2 carrots, 1-2 turnips or celery (root) and occasionally 1-2 grated tomatoes for that slightly acid/sour taste
  • ½-¾ cup of rice (can be a bit less, or more, but not too much or it will absorb a lot of water!)
  • Yoghurt or sour cream (ca. 250g-300g)
  • One egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp (white wine) vinegar
  • Salt, pepper, and/or other spices you think you might enjoy
  • Grated horseradish paste for serving (optional)*

* You can make your own horseradish paste by grating horseradish and mixing it with vinegar and salt, or opt for the easier option of finding an alternative in your local grocery store – just make sure you buy a sour/vinegar-y one!

The recipe is straight forward and cooks like any normal soup, but there is one very important twist towards the end (hint: step 5):

  1. Fill up a big pot with water and add the lamb meat into it with a touch of salt. Cook it on medium heat and keep removing the scum until it stops forming and the liquid clears out.
  2. Add your diced vegetables (and optional grated tomato) and keep it on low-to-medium heat until both veggies and meat are 90-95% cooked.
  3. Add the rice and cook for about 5-10min, or until the rice is nice and soft.
  4. While the rice is cooking, mix in a separate bowl about a cup of yoghurt/sour cream with your egg yolk and one tablespoon of vinegar.
  5. Here is the tricky part: once the rice is cooked, take 2-3 ladles of your soup and mix it with your yoghurt paste. I cannot stress enough: THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. You must make sure that the yoghurt mixture is about the same temperature as your soup before adding it in. If you don’t, the final version you will get will look very different from the one we have here.
  6. Once the right temperature is reached, slowly add the mixture into the soup, and give it a gentle mix until you reach more or less the colour seen in the pictures here. Don’t add all at once, you might not need all of it, it all depends on how much soup you made!
  7. Leave the soup on low heat for another 5min or so and then it’s ready. This is also the time to add salt/pepper until you are satisfied with the final taste. Also, if you prefer it a bit more sour, you can add a touch of vinegar or lemon juice, but we generally don’t do this since we add horseradish later on.

You can serve this with one teaspoon of horseradish paste, or eat it as it is. Since it’s quite hearty, it can be used both as a side/appetiser or a main dish. Itadakimasu!