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CIORBĂ DE SALATĂ VERDE (LETTUCE SOUP)

When I was an itty bitty waif in my early twenties trying to get even itty bittier I embarked on a diet regime inspired by the French which boiled down to eating nothing but leeks for a week. I had just moved to Paris and was holed up in a temporary apartment with nothing but the clothes I travelled in after my luggage got lost in transit. I bought a sackful of leeks and set about boiling up a week’s supply in a massive vat. The first taste was just about passable but after the third meal it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t going to work, the entire building stank and I was essentially a walking leek who was sweating leek juice, my only outfit was leek infused and I couldn’t stop peeing (leek scented naturally). So I settled for eating what I liked just less of it and that was that.

…Until the weekend I cooked ciorbă de salată verde. It contains no leeks, but it does have grated onion which when boiled produces a very similar stench and effectively transforms your home into a drunk man’s burp post kebab. It reminded me of my boiled French leeks and I have to be honest I did consider chucking it. But, I persevered and the addition of cottage cheese (!), sour cream and omelette (!!!) neutralised the onion returning the house to its usual scent of eau d’hamster.

Prior to preparing this soup I was a little bemused by the author’s instruction to weep hysterically as you beat the eggs; I thought the chef was cracking a joke, (the Romanians possess a very particular brand of humour), but I now know that he was deadly serious. Although I did substitute the weeping with cries of frustration, it turned out to be an excellent alternative as the soup was delicious.

I have made a very poor attempt at convincing you to try this soup, you should, seriously, it is very tasty. I only spit it out because I was in shock after Cosmin told me that my ciorbă de salată verde tastes better than his mother’s ciorbă de salată verde. Cosmin is staunchly team mami so this is praise indeed.

Oh yeah, this soup has lettuce in it.

Makes Dulcie's List   Makes Cosmin's List

ingredients

SOUP
  •  790g lettuce
  • 250g smoked sausages
  • 1 carrot
  • 25g flour
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 100g slanina (unrendered pork fat available at your local Romanian shop, if you can’t find any substitute with lardons)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 500g cottage cheese
  • 200ml greek yoghurt
  • 100ml sour cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
 TO SERVE
  • Vinegar
  • Bread

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT PER PORTION

  • Calories | 249
  • Fat | 14.5g

Serves | 10 portions

Prep Time | 15 minutes

Cooking Time | 1 hour 20 minutes

Method

  1. Finely chop the lettuce, slice the sausage into one inch lengths; grate the carrot and one of the onions. Put all into a saucepan together with two litres of water.  Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cook for 45 minutes
  2. In a frying pan, cook the flour until it starts to lightly brown, you’ll know it is ready when you can smell toast. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the oil.  Grate the second onion and mix in.
  1. Slice the slanina into small chunks and fry until it is golden and crispy, stir into the flour/onion mix.
  1. Whisk three of the eggs and fry in the oil from the slanina, cook on both sides until golden to make a simple omelette. Remove from the pan and slice into one inch squares.
  1. Add the omelette to the flour/onion mix together with the crushed garlic and paprika. Mix then add all into the soup.  Simmer for a further 15 minutes and remove from the heat.
  1. In a large bowl whisk together the remaining egg, the sour cream, greek yoghurt and cottage cheese. Stir the soup into the dairy mix one ladle at a time until you’ve used about a quarter of the soup then return the lot back into the soup pan and stir.  This helps to prevent curdling.
  2. Stir in the chopped herbs and season to taste.

Based on a recipe found in Poveştile Bucătăriei Româneşti by Radu Anton Roman

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