Ciorba De Varza

Ciorba de Varza (pronounced “CHOR ba duh VAR zuh”) is a traditional cabbage soup with meatballs, very typical of the Bulgaria/Romania region, and uses both fresh and fermented cabbage (sauerkraut). Hearty and filling, this soup absorbs the richness of the beef meatballs as they cook in the chicken broth, developing complex flavors and depth.


  • 2 thick slices dry white bread
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 2 sm onions, chopped
  • 2 med carrots, sliced
  • 2 med red or yellow peppers, chopped
  • 1 sm green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 6 C (1420 ml) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 C (142 g) sauerkraut, preferably fresh
  • 2 lg egg yolks
  • 1 C (186 g) cooked rice
  • 1 lb (454 g) ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp (2.5 g) parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lg egg
  • 1 C (230 g) sour cream
  • ½ C (4 g) dill, chopped


Soak bread in water for a few minutes to soften; squeeze out liquid; chop fine; set aside. Place bacon, onion, carrots and peppers in a large pot; cook just until onions are transparent, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage, chicken broth and sauerkraut. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 50 minutes). Meanwhile, make meatballs by placing bread, egg yolks, rice, ground beef, parsley, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, stirring to combine. Form into 1½-inch (3.8-cm) balls; add to soup after it has simmered 35 minutes; let meatballs cook for 15 minutes. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove soup from heat; whisk egg and sour cream together in a medium bowl, then whisking constantly, add in a few ladles of hot soup until mixed well. Stir egg mixture into soup, return to heat and simmer, stirring continuously, until soup thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Serve in individual bowls, garnished with dill.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes.
  • Cook time: 1 hour.
  • Makes 6 servings.

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