Romanian Ciorbă de Fasole (Bean Soup)

In Romania, where I come from, “Ciorbă de Fasole” is considered among the “foods of the poor,” but also, among the top traditional dishes, offered to foreigners, even in high-end restaurants, when they visit our country. Don’t worry, if it is a good restaurant, you will get something authentic. Nevertheless, the best “ciorbas” I’ve ever had came from a military base near Craiova, and from my grandma’s. In fact, food never tasted better anywhere else than at my grandma’s.

Ciorbă de fasole

It takes a bit of imagination to cook this soup without abiding by the original recipe, which is, in fact, easy-peasy. My only additions are: garden herbs, hickory smoked salt and tomatoes.

First, have 250 grams dried white beans soak in water overnight.

When you cook your soup: chop a large red onion finely. Then crush 3 or 4 garlic cloves. Scoop everything into a large, non-stick pot, and drizzle some canola oil on top. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, to prevent burning.

Grate (finely) one large carrot, some celery root and a parsnip. Chop a red bell pepper too. Scoop on top of the sauted garlic and onion. Keep on cooking for two minutes, and don’t forget to stir.

Now add soaked white beans, and about 6 cups water (use vegetable stock if you want a richer taste). Simmer about an hour, before adding two chopped tomatoes (large). Don’t forget to add some more water, if the liquid lowers too fast. Simmer for 7-10 minutes more.

Season with hickory smoked salt, pepper, one teaspoon sweet paprika, and one teaspoon dried garden herbs (thyme, oregano, basil. rosemary). Remove from heat, and add fresh lovage, finely chopped. You can skip this step, if lovage is not available (for the soup in the picture, I did.)