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Moldovan Zeama Recipe (Chicken Noodle Soup)

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A nourishing and wholesome dish, my chicken noodle soup recipe, or zeama as it’s known in Moldova, is a family favorite on dinner tables across Eastern Europe.

The succulence of the chicken, earthiness of the vegetables, and softness of the noodles all meld within a steaming hot broth of goodness that can be enjoyed on its own, or as a side dish to other courses.

Zeama (Chicken Noodle Soup) Recipe

Zeama (Chicken Noodle Soup) Ingredients

To make zeama, you will need the following:

  • A whole chicken
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Red or green bell pepper
  • Homemade noodles or store-bought noodles
  • Tomato passata
  • “Borș acru”/bran
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh herbs (such as parsley)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1 – The first step is to get the chicken ready for the soup. We’ll only be using the bones of the whole chicken in the soup. You can bake the meat in a roasting bag with seasoning and serve alongside the soup or shred and add it to the soup before serving.

Making chicken noodle soup (the meat is placed in roasting bags on a tray, ready to go in the oven),

Step 2 – The next step and the first one in getting the soup underway is to add the chicken carcass to a pot, add boiling water, let it boil for about 1-2 minutes, and then drain the water.

Making chicken noodle soup (adding the chicken carcass and bits to a pot of boiling water).

Step 3 – After draining the first water, add freshly boiled water to the chicken carcass. You’ll want to add about 3.5 liters or roughly about 1 gallon of boiling water. Bring the pot to a boil, turn the heat slightly down, and let the water simmer for about 30 minutes. This is the start of our chicken stock.

Step 4 – After 30 minutes, add roughly sliced onions and carrots to the stock and continue simmering it for about 10-15 minutes.

Making chicken noodle soup (adding carrots and onions to the pot).

Step 5 – While the stock is simmering, make the homemade egg noodles. In Moldova, they’re called “tăiței de casă,” which translates to homemade noodles. You can skip this step if you want to by just using store-bought noodles (you can buy noodles, tagliatelle, or fettuccine) but the homemade noodles are so much better and they are quite easy to make. You’ll just need eggs, plain flour, and 10 minutes of your time.

Making egg noodles for the soup.
Homemade Egg Noodles Recipe

Step 6 – Coming back to our soup, once 10-15 minutes passed after adding the carrots and onions, add the diced celery, bell pepper, bay leaf, and black pepper (a couple peppercorns or a few twists of the grinder, depending on how peppery you like it). We also used 50-60 grams of celeriac because we had it on hand (but that’s optional).

Making chicken noodle soup (adding celery, bell pepper, and black pepper to the pot).

Step 7 – In a separate pot, mix the tomato passata and “borș acru” and bring to a boil. It’s now ready to be added to the soup.

Tomato passata and bors acru in a pot.

Side note: See the picture below for what borș acru looks like. To find it, you could try looking in Eastern European food markets near you or online Eastern European grocers.

If you can’t seem to find the liquid “borș acru,” try using powdered “borș acru,” which should be readily available on Amazon.

Step 8 – After about 5-7 minutes from when we added the celery and pepper, add the noodles and the passata-bran mixture.

Making chicken noodle soup (adding the passata mixture to the pot).

Step 9 – Once the egg noodles have lifted to the surface (which shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes if using freshly made noodles), give it a taste and add salt and pepper (as needed) and fresh herbs (such as parsley).

Making chicken noodle soup (adding the herbs)

Seeing a giant pot of steaming hot chicken noodle soup sitting at the center of the dinner table never fails to take me straight back to childhood and my mother’s wonderful home cooking.

Chicken noodle soup, ready to be served, in a pot.

You can then transfer it to a big serving bowl to put in the center of the dinner table, ready for everyone to enjoy.

What I love about zeama chicken noodle soup is the array of textures that all balance each other perfectly. The chicken is tender, the broth warm and comforting, the vegetables soft with a little crunch, while the noodles bind every spoonful together, yet practically melt in the mouth with their soft, chewy texture.

Chicken noodle soup in a bowl.

Chicken noodle soup is also a very sensual dish. The herbs lace the mouthwatering chicken broth with fresh, earthy aromas, and I can vividly remember how this dish would fill the house with its enchanting smells that would drift between the rooms.

Chicken noodle soup in a bowl.

Serving Suggestions

As mentioned above, we would often cook chicken noodle soup with plenty of other dishes, including cooked meats and salads.

Serving chicken noodle soup at the table (with meat and other sides on the table as well).

Zeama Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe Card

Moldovan Zeama Recipe (Chicken Noodle Soup)

5 from 1 vote
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Author: Nomad Paradise

Ingredients

  • Whole chicken
  • 2 medium-sized carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 large red or green bell pepper
  • 400 ml 1 and ⅔ cups of tomato passata
  • 500 ml 2 cups borș acru
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Fresh herbs such as parsley
  • Homemade egg noodles

Instructions

  • The first step is to get the chicken ready for the soup. We’ll only be using the bones of the whole chicken in the soup. The meat you can bake in a roasting bag with seasoning and serve alongside the soup or shred and add it to the soup.
  • The next step and the first one in getting the soup underway is to add the chicken carcass to a pot, add boiling water, let it boil for about 1-2 minutes and then drain the water.
  • After draining the first water, add freshly boiled water to the chicken carcass. You’ll want to add about 3.5 liters or roughly about 1 gallon of boiling water. Bring the pot to a boil, turn the heat slightly down, and let the water simmer for about 30 minutes. This is the start of our chicken stock.
  • After 30 minutes, add roughly sliced onions and carrots to the stock and continue simmering it for about 10-15 minutes.
  • While the stock is simmering, make the homemade egg noodles. In Moldova, they’re called “tăiței de casă,” which translates to homemade noodles. You can skip this step if you want to by just using store-bought noodles (you can buy noodles, Italian Tagliatelle, or fettuccine) but the homemade noodles are so much better and they are quite easy to make. You’ll just need eggs and plain flour.
  • Coming back to our soup, once 10-15 minutes passed after adding the carrots and onions, add the diced celery, bell pepper, bay leaves, and black pepper.
  • In a separate pot, mix the tomato passata (400ml or 1 and 2/3 cups) and “borș acru” or bran (500 ml or about 2 cups) and bring to a boil. It’s now ready to be added to the soup.
  • After about 5-7 minutes from when we added the celery and pepper, we’ll add the noodles and the passata-bran mixture.
  • Once the egg noodles have lifted, give it a taste and add salt and pepper (as needed) and fresh herbs (we added parsley)

Recipe Notes

  1. Instead of celery or alongside celery, you can also use celeriac (50-60 grams).
  1. Where to find borș acru? You could try looking in Eastern European food markets near you or online Eastern European grocers. If you can't seem to find the liquid "borș acru," try using powdered "borș acru," which should be readily available on Amazon.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nomadparadisefood or tag #nomadparadisefood!

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Author: Doina is a content writer and strategist, originally from Chisinau, Moldova. Passionate about international food, she is eager to share more about Moldovan cuisine through her writing and help inspire amateur home chefs with global recipes.

Contributor: Efimia is a Moldovan teacher and home chef, who has been feeding friends and family with her honest and flavorful home cooking for over 40 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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