Romanian Beef Soup Recipe – How to Make Ciorba de Vacuta

A blue bowl filled with the soup. You can see there are many vegetables in it, as well as a few pieces of beef. On top of the soup there is a white dollop of sour cream. The bowl sits on a wooden board half covered with a white teatowel with yellow stripes

Romanian beef soup is one of the most popular ciorba recipes in Romania. You will find it in every Romanian restaurant, and in every household. My mom used to make it every other week or so, when I was growing up. The Ciorba de Vacuta – which in Romanian actually translates as “Little Cow Soup” – is so flavoursome, packed with vegetables and served with heaps of sour cream.

The beauty of making this soup is that you can use any vegetables you have in your fridge. Everyone has their own family recipe for this beef soup, so it’s normal for it to taste slightly different from restaurant to restaurant. It’s even better if you are invited to a Romanian’s house for dinner, to taste the proper homemade beef soup. So make some friends whilst you’ve visiting the country, or just follow my recipe below, for a flavoursome, hearty, soup that will warm up your cold winter evenings.

The Ingredients for the Romanian Beef Soup Recipe

A wooden board on a kitchen counter with a carrot, two potatoes, one onion cut in half and a bunch of green beans on it. On the left top there is a large long red pepper. On the right there is a black bowl with pieces of beef.

The best cut for this recipe is beef shin. Even better if you can get it on the bone, as this will give an extra layer of flavour to the soup. When it comes to vegetables, you can use whatever you like best. Traditionally, this recipe requires root vegetables. I am not a fan of all root vegetables, so I added onions, carrots, potatoes, and celery in my soup, but you can also add parsnips, celeriac, or parsley root.

In Addition, I also added green beans as well as red pepper. Whilst I can’t say I love raw red peppers, when it comes to the Romanian soups, I feel that they can’t be missed. They bring to the soup that extra crunch, as well as that light citrus fresh flavour.  

You can also add frozen peas, cauliflower, and even courgette to this soup. They all work nicely.

When it comes to the herbs I chose for the Romanian beef soup, I went for what I already had at home: dill and thyme from the garden, and dried lovage which I bought from the Romanian shop.

How to Make the Romanian Beef Soup Recipe

A stainless steep pot filled with water, the meat at the bottom, and the root vegetables at the top.

The Romanian beef soup recipe takes some time to cook, because of the meat. The beef shin needs to cook through until tender. Nobody likes tough meat. You use the entire piece of meat, or cut it in cubes. I did the latter, because it cooks faster. You can also cook the meat separately, in a pressure cooker, and make the stock separately. I don’t have a pressure cooker so I used the classic hob to cook this delicious Romanian soup.

Firstly, I added the bite size chunks of meat into about 5L of cold water, and brought it to boil over a medium heat. I made sure to remove the foam that formed on top. Whilst removing the foam is not essential, the soup will be cloudy if it’s left in. It can be removed easily using a perforated spoon leaving you with a clear, beautiful broth.

A stainless steep pot with a lot of different vegetables in it, simmering slowly.

The beef meat will take around 40 minutes to part cook, on a low-medium heat. This is the moment when I added the root vegetables, except for the potatoes. I let everything simmer for another 15 minutes or so, until the carrots started to soften. Then I added the chopped potatoes, peppers, and the green beans cut in half. I let everything simmer for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, I put the bors in another small pot, and brought it to boil.

When all the vegetables were cooked, I added a can of chopped tomatoes. I poured the bors, and then brought it to boil one more time. Then, I added salt, to season, and tasted the soup making sure that it’s perfect. The last step was to add all the herbs. I chose to add a generous amount of dill, some thyme from the garden, and some dried lovage.  

I served the soup hot, with a large dollop of sour cream in the middle.

Notes and Tips:

A side view of the blue bowl with the soup in it. It sits on a white tea towel with yellow stripes. You can see the red soup inside, with the pieces of meat and some vegetables popping above the surface.
  • You can use whatever vegetables you like in this Romanian beef soup. I always use what I already have in the fridge, a great time to make a tasty soup and avoid wasting the vegetables that might not be as crisp to eat fresh, but are perfect to be boiled in the soup.
  • The same thing applies with herbs. Use what herbs you like best. I love dill in this soup because it gives it an earthy flavour. Lovage is also great for this soup because of its unique flavour.
  • If you choose not to cut the beef, or if you are using shin on the bone, you will need to boil the meat for longer than 40 minutes. Depending on the age of the meat in terms of how old the cow was. The boiling time can be between 1 – 2 hours.
  • If you are using beef on the bone, just before the soup is ready, take it out. Let it cool down for a little bit, then cut the bone off and chop the meat into bite size pieces. Then, add it back into the soup.  
A blue bowl filled with the soup. You can see there are many vegetables in it, as well as a few pieces of beef. On top of the soup there is a white dollop of sour cream. The bowl sits on a wooden board half covered with a white teatowel with yellow stripes

Romanian Beef Soup Recipe

This Romanian beef soup recipe is delicious. It's a perfect winter warmer, packed with vegetables and tender beef meat.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Course Soup
Cuisine Romanian
Servings 8 people


  • 400 gr beef shin
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 big carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 pack green beans
  • 1 large pepper
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 200 ml bors easily found at any Romanian shops
  • dill optional
  • thyme optional
  • dried lovage optional
  • sour cream for serving


  • Cut the beef in cubes.
  • Put it in a pot of 5L of cold water, and simmer for 40 minutes to one hour, until the meat becomes tender. Test it with a fork. If the fork goes into the meat easily, you can move to the next step.
  • Make sure to clear the foam that forms on the top of the soup when it starts boiling.
  • Add the chopped onion, celery, and carrot.
  • Let the soup simmer until the root vegetables start to soften up, 15 minutes or so.
  • Add the chopped potatoes, green beans, and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, boil one cup of bors separately. When it starts boiling, take it off the heat.
  • After 15 more minutes of simmering, add the can of chopped tomatoes.
  • Let it boil for 5 minutes, and then add the bors. Let the soup come to a boil, and then turn the heat off.
  • Add the finely chopped herbs and mix them well in the soup.
  • Serve the soup hot alongside sour cream.


2The blue bowl filled with soup, sitting on a white tea towel with yellow stripes. Next to it there is a pot of sour cream with a teaspoon in it.

How to store Romanian beef soup?

You can store the Romanian beef soup in an airtight closed container, in the fridge. Leave the soup to cool down completely before putting it in the fridge.

How long can you store Romanian beef soup?

The Romanian beef soup will last up to 72 hours if stored correctly, in the fridge.

How to reheat the Romanian beef soup?

You can reheat the Romanian beef soup by taking as many portions as you need from the storing container, and transferring in a smaller pot. Reheat the soup over a low heat, until it starts boiling.

For more delicious traditional Romanian soups check out my recommendations below:

Like it? Pin it!

Romanian Beef Soup Recipe – How to Make Ciorba de Vacuta pin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating