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Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream (Ciorba Radauteana)

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Try one of the classic dishes of the hearty, rustic cuisine of northern Romania with our Romanian chicken soup recipe (Ciorba Radauteana), packed with fresh vegetables, juicy chicken, and a generous pouring of tangy sour cream. Every mouthful is creamy, earthy, and very nourishing!

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream (Ciorba Radauteana) in a small soup bowl

Romanian Chicken Soup Recipe

What I love about this beloved soup is that it is a perfect representation of life in its namesake, Rădăuți County, which today is now part of Suceava County.

This region is right up in the north of Romania, close to both the Moldovan and Ukrainian borders. It is renowned for its sprawling mountains and wild forests, and those fresh, earthy flavors can be found in abundance in this soup.

Life in these rural regions is very different from what many of us know in the cities, and hence so many of the foods are simple to make, yet pack so much nourishment and heart in every mouthful.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream (Ciorba Radauteana) in two small soup bowls

What is Ciorba Radauteana?

At its simplest, Ciorba Radauteana is a sour soup comprising of various fresh vegetables, chicken, sour cream, and vinegar, along with other seasonings and ingredients depending on preference.

Recipe Ingredients

To get started with our Romanian chicken soup recipe, you’ll need the following:

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream (Ciorba Radauteana) ingredients on a wooden board.
  • Chicken Thighs and Breasts – 2.2 lb (or 1 kg) chicken thighs and chicken breasts (bone-in and skin-on, at least for the chicken thighs)
  • Onions – 2 large onions
  • Carrots – 2 large carrots
  • Parsnips – 2 parsnips
  • Celeriac – 1/2 celeriac root
  • Red Bell Pepper – 1 large red bell pepper
  • Bay Leaves – 2 bay leaves
  • Garlic – 4-5 garlic cloves
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Black Peppercorns – 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Salt – 2 tsp (or to taste) salt
  • Sour Cream – 1 and 1/4 cup (or 300 ml) full-fat sour cream
  • Egg Yolks – 3 egg yolks
  • Parsley – 1 bunch of fresh parsley

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Peel and roughly chop the veggies (the parsnips, the carrots, the celeriac, and the bell pepper).

Peeled and quartered carrots, celeriac root, and parsnips on a wooden board
Peeled and quartered carrots, celeriac root, and parsnips

Step 2 – Put the chicken in a large pot, cover it with cold water (about 10.5 cups or 2.5 liters), and put the pot on medium heat until it starts boiling (about 15 minutes).

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (chicken in water in a large pot).

Step 3 – Once the water starts boiling, remove the foam/scum with a spoon.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (removing the scum/foam from the water with the chicken).

Repeat until the water is clear.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (chicken in the boiling water after removing the foam).

Step 4 – Add the parsnips, carrots, celeriac, red bell pepper, peeled onions, black peppercorns, and bay leaves to the pot.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (adding the veggies to the soup).
Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (veggies, bay leaves, and peppercorn added to the pot with the chicken).

Step 5 – Boil over low heat for about 45-50 minutes until the meat falls apart from the bones.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (boiling the pot over low heat).

Step 6 – Remove all the meat and veggies to the side in a separate bowl.

In the later steps, we’ll shred the chicken (discarding the skin and bones), and we’ll dice the carrots (discarding the parsnips, onions, bell pepper, and bay leaves).

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (setting aside the chicke and veggies with the bay leaves).

Step 7 – Strain the broth/liquid.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (straining the broth).

Step 8 – Mince the garlic and pour 2 cups of the broth over it, cover it, and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (pouring broth over minced garlic).

Step 9 – After 10 minutes, strain the garlic-infused broth.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (straining the garlic broth).

Step 10 – Shred the chicken meat, removing the skin and bones.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (shredding the cooked chicken).

Step 11 – Dice the carrots.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (diced carrots on a wooden board).

Step 12 – Mix the salt, egg yolks, and sour cream until well combined.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (sour cream, egg yolks and salt with a whisk in a glass bowl).
Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (sour cream mixture combined).

Step 13 – Take 1 cup of the time of the warm broth and add it to the sour cream mixture, whisking while pouring the liquid. Repeat 3-4 times until you’ve tempered the sour cream (brought it to a warm temperature so that it doesn’t curdle when added to the whole pot of broth).

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (adding broth to the sour cream mixture, one cup at a time).

Step 14 – Add the sour cream mixture, shredded chicken, diced carrots, cider vinegar, and garlic liquid to the soup.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (adding the sour cream mixture to the pot with the broth).
Adding the sour cream mixture
Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (broth and sour cream mixture combined).
Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (adding the shredded chicken to the soup).
Adding the shredded chicken to the soup
Adding the vinegar to the soup.
Adding the vinegar to the soup
Adding the garlic infused broth
Adding the garlic-infused broth

Step 15 – Bring the soup to a boil and then take it off the heat as soon as it starts boiling.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (bringing the soup to a low boil).

Step 16 – Add the finely chopped/minced parsley and mix it in.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream Step-by-Step (adding the minced parsley).

Step 17 – Taste the soup and add any salt you think it needs (to your taste/preference).

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream in a large pot.

Serving Suggestions

Once it’s been ladled into a bowl, our soup is wholesome enough to enjoy on its own. However, as with so many soups, there are plenty of sides and dishes to enjoy it with. You could consider the following:

Fresh Bread – This goes without saying. Get yourself a fresh, crusty loaf, and enjoy mopping up that thick, creamy broth with a few thick slices.

Pickles – Add plenty of tang and crunch by eating the soup with a side of pickles.

Chili or Pepper – Definitely not traditional and in no way synonymous with the ingredients of the region, but if you do like heat on your palate and are feeling adventurous, consider some pepper or chili flakes added at the end, as we did the parsley, to add some heat to the soup.

Hard-Boiled Egg – You could also have this soup with a hard-boiled egg or two on the side.

Variations

While not necessarily considered traditional, you can adapt this soup with some of the following variations:

Natural Yogurt: If you can’t find or don’t like sour cream, you could try substituting it with natural yogurt.

Meat: There are people who will instead use beef or pork, instead of chicken, as the main ingredient for their sour soup, as we have done with pork in our Ukrainian sauerkraut soup.

Smoked Meat: While, again, not traditional, you can try this style of soup with cuts or pieces of smoked sausage, ham, and hock, for example, to give the soup plenty of smoky, meaty notes in addition to the protein, in a similar vein to okroshka.

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream in a bowl

However you try it, if you want to experience the rawness and ingenuity of Romanian cooking in the rural, mountainous regions, this soup is ideal for stimulating your culinary interests and introducing it to friends and family in a simple way. It’s rich, juicy, and packed with goodness!

Romanian Chicken Soup with Sour Cream in two bowls.

Romanian Chicken Soup Recipe Card

Romanian Chicken Soup

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Author: Nomad Paradise
Course: Soups
Cuisine: Romanian

Ingredients

  • 2.2 lb or 1 kg chicken thighs and chicken breasts (bone-in and skin-on)
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1/2 celeriac root
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp or to taste salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup or 300 ml sour cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Peel and roughly chop the veggies (the parsnips, the carrots, the celeriac, and the bell pepper).
  • Put the chicken thighs and breasts in a large pot, cover it with cold water (about 10.5 cups or 2.5 liters), and put the pot on medium heat until it starts boiling (about 15 minutes).
  • Once the water starts boiling, remove the foam/scum with a spoon. Repeat until the water is clear.
  • Add the parsnips, carrots, celeriac, red bell pepper, peeled onions, black peppercorns, and bay leaves to the pot.
  • Boil over low heat for about 45-50 minutes until the meat falls apart from the bones.
  • Remove all the meat and veggies to the side in a separate bowl.
  • Strain the broth/liquid.
  • Mince the garlic and pour 2 cups of the broth over it, cover it, and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, strain the garlic-infused broth.
  • Shred the chicken meat, removing the skin and bones.
  • Dice the carrots.
  • Mix the salt, egg yolks, and sour cream until well combined.
  • Take 1 cup of the time of the warm broth and add it to the sour cream mixture, whisking while pouring the liquid. Repeat 3-4 times until you’ve tempered the sour cream (brought it to a warm temperature so that it doesn’t curdle when added to the whole pot of broth).
  • Add the sour cream mixture, shredded chicken, diced carrots, cider vinegar, and garlic liquid to the soup.
  • Bring the soup to a boil and then take it off the heat as soon as it starts boiling.
  • Add the minced parsley and mix it in.
  • Taste the soup and add any salt you think it needs (to your taste/preference).
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Contributor: Efimia is a retired Moldovan teacher and passionate foodie, who has been whipping up a huge array of Eastern European dishes for family, friends, and loved ones from her humble home kitchen for over forty years and counting.

Author

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

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