Pouring Tangy Dressing Over a Bowl of Rich Romanian Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup, Enhancing Its Flavors.

Romanian Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup (Ciorba de ciocanele)


Romanian cuisine is a testament to the country’s rich cultural tapestry, with each dish telling a story of tradition and heritage. A cornerstone of these culinary traditions is the indispensable role of soups in Romanian meals.

Romanian Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup: A Culinary Delight

Romanian pork legs and knuckles soup is another culinary gem from Romanian cuisine that deserves a place on your menus. This traditional dish, once known as the “poor man’s broth”, has evolved into a flavorful masterpiece that all food enthusiasts will want to give it a try.

Unique Flavor Profile: Vinegar and Garlic

Complemented with tangy notes of vinegar and the all known aromatic garlic, this soup offers a taste experience like no other. No joke, no other country around the world has this type of soup in their cuisine. Just like papanasi, you won’t find this pork legs and knuckles soup anywhere else but Romania.

Ease of Preparation: Accessible Ingredients

This recipe is super easy to make and unlike sarmale for example, where you need specifics, like pickled cabbage, this Romanian pork and knuckles soup uses ingredients you can find anywhere anytime.

Unexpected Health Benefits: Natural Collagen

Another huge plus, it might be a fountain of youth, thanks to the pork knuckles that are full of natural collagen, this Romanian pork legs and knuckles soup will help you keep that skin smooth and wrinkle free.

The Secret Ingredient: Garlic Vinaigrette

But, the real magic happens when you mix egg yolks with sour cream and top it all off with a tangy garlic vinaigrette. Yep, you heard it right – this soup has its very own vinaigrette! So, what are you waiting for?

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients for the Soup

Romanian Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup Ingredients
  • Pork legs and knuckles – 1.5 kg or 3.3 lb
  • Onions – 2-3 pieces (around 200 grams or 7 ounces)
  • Carrots – 3-4 pieces (around 250 grams or 8.8 ounces)
  • Parsnip – 1 piece (around 80-100 grams or 3 ounces)
  • Celery stalk – 1 piece (around 120-150 grams or 5 ounces)
  • Bay leaves – A few
  • Salt – 1 tablespoon
  • Peppercorns – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Water – 6.5 liters or 1.7 gallon

Ingredients for Dressings

Romanian Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup Ingredients

Ingredients for Dressing 1

  • Sour cream – 700 grams or 1 pound and a half
  • Eggs – 12

Ingredients for Dressing 2

  • Vinegar – 1 cup and a half
  • Garlic head – 1 piece

How to Make Romanian Pork Legs Soup

Now let’s see how we can make this delicious dish.

1. Preparation of Pork Legs and Knuckles

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

Prepare the legs and knuckles. Check the pork legs for any remaining hair and burn it off, scrape it and rinse in clean water and remove the hooves.

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

2. Boiling the Pork

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

Boil the legs in 4 liters or 1 gallon of water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Make sure you remove the foam and the impurities by skimming it off with a slotted spoon or strainer.

3. Vegetable Preparation

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

Prepare the vegetables and divide the onions and carrots in 2. Chop half of the onions and the carrots, parsnip, and celery into large chunks. The other half of the onions and carrots must be finely chopped or grated.

4. Adding Vegetables to the Broth

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

After 1 hour add the big chunks of vegetables and let the whole soup boil for another hour.

5. Further Boiling and Seasoning

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

After a total of 2 hours spent boiling, add an additional 2.5 liters of water (85 ounces), bay leaves, and peppercorns and let the whole thing boil for another half hour.

6. Sauteing the Vegetables

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

Saute the onions and the carrots for 5 minutes on low heat.

7. Finalizing the Broth

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

After a total of 2.5 hours of boiling, remove the legs from the broth and strain the soup to remove any boiled vegetables, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Proceed to separate the meat from the bones and discard any unwanted fat or rind.

8. Adding Meat and Vegetables to the Broth

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

Complete with another liter of water to the broth and put it to boil (34 fluid ounces). Add the scraped meat and the sautéed onions and carrots and let it boil for another half hour.

9. Preparing the Sour Cream Mixture

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

In a separate bowl, mix together sour cream and egg yolks until they are perfectly blended. To avoid the segregation of the soup, add a few ladles of hot boiling soup into the sour cream mixture to help level the temperature.

10. Mixing the Sour Cream Mixture into the Soup

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

Turn off the stove and pour over this sour cream mixture continuously mixing to avoid any segregation.

11. Vinaigrette Preparation

Process Shots Showing How to Make Romanian Pork Leg Soup.

Now prepare the vinaigrette. Crush the garlic and mix it with 1 cup and a half of vinegar.

12. Important Note

DO NOT mix the whole vinaigrette with the soup. This step must be done only per serving, otherwise, you will ruin the whole soup.

Tracing the Origins: The History of Romanian Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup

The genesis of the Romanian Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup is rooted in Romania’s rural landscapes, where it was a favored choice among farmers due to its high nutritional content and the ready availability of ingredients. The soup holds a prominent cultural position in Romania, often being the centerpiece during familial gatherings and traditional festivities.

A Taste of Regions: Variations of the Soup Across Romania

As with many traditional dishes, the Romanian Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup is subject to regional interpretations. Each region in Romania imparts its own unique spin on the recipe, often influenced by local produce and cultural nuances. Some of these variations include:

  • Alternative meat choices: While pork legs and knuckles remain the traditional choice, some regions experiment with other cuts of pork or even different types of meat.
  • Incorporation of sour cream: Certain regions introduce sour cream to the soup, lending it a creamy texture and a tangy undertone.
  • Utilization of diverse vegetables and herbs: Depending on the region, a variety of vegetables and herbs may be employed to enhance the soup’s flavor.

By delving into these variations, one can truly appreciate the diversity and richness of Romanian cuisine. Whether you adhere to the traditional recipe or venture into a regional variation, the Romanian Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup promises a rewarding culinary journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I store the soup?

For optimal preservation, the soup should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. It will maintain its quality for up to three days.

Can I reheat the soup?

Absolutely, the soup can be reheated. Use a stovetop for this purpose. Ensure you stir the soup intermittently while reheating to prevent segregation.

Can I freeze the soup?

Indeed, this soup is suitable for freezing. It can be safely frozen for a period of up to three months. When you’re ready to consume the soup, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Following this, reheat it on the stove for best results.

A Bowl of Romanian Pork Leg and Knuckle Soup, Rich With Vegetables and Sour Cream, on Table.

Romanian Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Indulge in the comforting flavors of Romanian cuisine with our delightful Pork Legs and Knuckles Soup. This hearty soup combines tender pork legs and knuckles with a medley of fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs, and savory seasonings. Slowly simmered to perfection, the result is a rich and flavorful broth that will warm your soul. Experience the authentic taste of Romania in every spoonful and let this classic dish transport you to the heart of Eastern Europe. Enjoy the essence of tradition and savor the goodness of this beloved soup with family and friends. Happy cooking

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg or 3.3 lb pork legs and knuckles
  • 2-3 onions (around 200 grams or 7 ounces)
  • 3-4 carrots (around 250 grams or 8.8 ounces)
  • 1 parsnip (around 80-100 grams or 3 ounces)
  • 1 celery stalk (around 120-150 grams or 5 ounces)
  • A few bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns
  • 6.5 liters or 1.7 gallon of water

Ingredients for Dressing 1

  • 700 grams or 1.5 pounds of sour cream
  • 12 egg yolks

Ingredients for Dressing 2

  • 1.5 cups of vinegar
  • 1 garlic head

Instructions

  1. Prepare the legs and knuckles. Check the pork legs for any remaining hair and burn it off, scrape it and rinse in clean water and remove the hooves.
  2. Prepare the vegetables and divide the onions and carrots in  2. Chop half of the onions and the carrots, parsnip and celery into large chunks. The other half of the onions and carrots must be finely chopped or grated.
  3. Boil the legs in 4 liters or 1 gallon of water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Make sure you remove the foam and the impurities by skimming it off a with a slotted spoon or strainer.
  4. After 1 hour add the big chunks of vegetables and let the whole soup boil for another hour.
  5. After a total of 2 hours spent boiling, add additional 2 liters and a half of water (85 ounces), bay leaves and peppercorns and let the whole thing boil for another half hour.
  6. Saute the onions and the carrots for 5 minutes on low heat.
  7. After a total of 2 hours and a half of boiling, remove the legs from the broth and strain the soup to remove any boiled vegetables, bay leaves and peppercorns. Proceed to separate the meat from the bones and discard any unwanted fat or rind.
  8. Complete with another liter of water to the broth and put it to boil. (34 fluid ounces). Add the scraped meat and the sauted onions and carrots and let it boil for another half hour.
  9. In a separate bowl, mix together sour cream and egg yolks until they are perfectly blended. To avoid the segregation of the soup, add a few ladles of hot boiling soup into the sour cream mixture to help level the temperature.
  10. Turn off the stove and pour over this sour cream mixture continuously mixing to avoid any segregation.
  11. Now prepare the vinaigrette. Crush the garlic and mix it with 1 cup and a half of vinegar.
  12. Important note: DO NOT mix the whole vinaigrette with the soup. This step must be done only per serving, otherwise you will ruin the whole soup.

Notes

Garlic Color Changes

There is nothing wrong if the garlic turns green, blue, or on rare occasions even pink. Everything is normal and you can still serve the dressing without any issues. Some types of garlic tend to naturally develop a blueish tint when meeting vinegar or lemon juice. It’s all about chemistry. If your garlic turned blue, be happy, that’s 100 % naturally developed garlic which just had a chemical reaction when meeting acetic acid also known as vinegar. 

Role of Salt in Cooking

Salt in cooking is used mainly for taste, but in broths and soups that contain meat, it’s also used as a cleaning agent. It will help create the foam, which usually happens 10 or 20 minutes after it starts boiling, and therefore clean the meat from impurities.

Sauteing Vegetables

While sauteing the vegetables, I like to add the carrot first for intense color, but honestly, you can do it the other way around as well, it doesn't really matter the sequence you are using. This procedure is used rarely for broths, but it’s one of the things that will add lots of flavor to this white soup. 

Serving Suggestions

You must serve it with lots of sour cream and for starters 1 tablespoon of vinegar and garlic vinaigrette per bowl of soup. Served as it is without dressing is a heavy meal that you won't probably like. What unlocks the flavor is the must-have vinegar dressing so if you like garlic and vinegar you must try this soup and let me know how much you loved it. 

Storage and Reheating

Upon refrigeration, the soup will transform into jelly because of all the collagen and fat. Heating it will liquify it again.

Cooking Time Adjustments

Depending on the stove, his power and on the pot, you can add additional boiling time for step number 3 and 4, meaning you can raise the boiling time if you are not satisfied with how well the meat is cooked. A pressure cooker will do wonders in 1 hour of boiling.

Avoid Mixing Vinaigrette with Soup

Mixing the whole vinaigrette with the soup will cut the texture. Because the soup full of sour cream, which is a dairy product full of lactose, the vinegar, which is an acetic acid, will segregate the whole soup leaving you with a cheesy mess.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 420g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 680Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 335mgSodium: 1060mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 55g

The nutritional information provided is approximate and for reference purposes only. Actual values may vary due to factors such as product brands, preparation methods, and ingredient substitutions. The provided values may not include all nutrients and should not be relied upon as the sole source of nutritional information. Always read product labels and consider individual factors when making dietary choices. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies or adverse effects resulting from the use of this information.

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Author

  • Diana

    Hey! I’m Diana. a 30-year-old culinary enthusiast with a passion for creating mouthwatering dishes that tantalize your taste buds. With over 15 years of cooking experience under my apron, I’ve spent countless hours in the kitchen honing my skills, experimenting with flavors, and discovering the most delectable recipes.

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