One of the most popular sour soups in Romania, which can be found in any guesthouse or restaurant across the country, is tripe soup. It is as popular as another Romanian traditional dish, the famous “mititei”, minced meat sausages.
The tripe soup is made with beef tripe, garlic, sour cream and vinegar and it originates in the Balkan region. In Bulgaria it is called “shkembe soup” and it also contains pork and lamb, in Serbia its name is “skembici” and it is usually prepared with a lot of paprika, both sweet and hot, just like in the Czech Republic and Hungary.
As to the assimilation of the tripe soup by the Romanian cuisine, journalist, writer and TV producer specializing in culinary themes, Radu Anton Roman, described the tripe soup as something strange and subtle, which speaks volumes of the Romanian people. It stinks but it’s very tasty if you manage to get used to it. It may be harmful to health, it’s a fatty thick soup that will bring you extra kilos but it’s too good to refuse it. It originates in Turkey but it feigns being all Romanian. It is equally sour and sweet, hot and velvety, fatty but still delicate, said Radu Anton Roman.
Now here is the recipe for tripe soup.
You need almost 2 kg of beef tripe, vegetables for soup, namely one carrot, one parsley, one celeriac, one or two onions, one red pepper or capsicum, sour cream, 2 eggs, garlic, vinegar, pepper seeds and salt.
First thing you have to do is wash the tripe really well, when it is clean it should be white. The purpose of the vegetables is to flavor the soup, so you will take them out later. Place the tripe and the whole, peeled vegetables in a big pot and boil for 2 hours or more. Add the onions later. Leave to boil on medium heat and towards the end of the boiling process add around 10 pepper seeds and 2 or 3 bay leaves.
Take out the tripe, strain it and leave it to cool, then cut the tripe into small pieces. Also strain the vegetables, leaving the broth nice and clear. Puree the vegetables and add them back to the broth. Also add the tripe pieces back to the broth alongside the red pepper, which was previously cut into small slices. Leave the broth to boil until the pepper becomes soft. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks with the sour cream and add two tablespoons of vinegar. Pour this mixture into the pot after removing it from the heat. Add salt to taste. When served, the tripe soup can be garnished with more sour cream, minced garlic and vinegar. Some people like to serve the tripe soup with hot pepper on the side.
(translated by: Lacramioara Simion)