Rădăuți Soup, a Staple of Romanian Cuisine

Who would have thought that in the late 70s, a family dispute would lead to the creation of one of the most appreciated Romanian soups? All it took was the whim of a husband to have chicken in a traditional beef soup.

Romanian chicken soup named Ciorba Radauteana
The ubiquitous Romanian chicken soup called Ciorba Radauteana. Photo: Sebastian Studio / stock.adobe.com

Cornelia Dumitrescu, “the mother of the Rădăuți soup,” wanted one thing: to please her husband and family, even if that meant giving a shot to some of the strange-sounding culinary requests. One cold winter day, she was met with one such request from her husband – he wanted a tripe soup that would taste like chicken. Obviously, Cornelia knew there was no chicken in traditional tripe soup, but that wasn’t going to stop her.

She was a very skilled chef and worked full-time at one of the most appreciated restaurants of those times. Her work in the kitchen was mouthwatering. In her hands, nothing was impossible when it came to food. However, the creation of what was to become one of the most loved Romanian soups may or may not have come as a surprise, even to her.

During the communist times, access to ingredients for beef soup was limited. Not only was it costly, but it was also not rewarding for Cornelia, as her family was not a fan of the meal. Repeated requests for a chicken-tasting tripe soup made it so that, one morning, Cornelia decided to replace the main ingredient with another, more affordable and more suited to her family’s palette, meat – turkey. The result was a resounding success.

Cornelia debuted the dish at a family anniversary, and the praises propelled it straight onto the menu of the restaurant where she worked. Soon after, she exchanged turkey for chicken; the rest is history. Thanks to this unique request and Cornelia’s dedication and talent, the Rădăuți soup we all love today was born.

Rădăuți soup taking over Romania

It wasn’t long until the soup took over the city. From preparing 10-20 servings a day, the restaurant soon began selling hundreds daily. Locals and visitors would step into the restaurant only to try out the dish that became famous almost overnight. It has been over 40 years since the official entry into the recipe market; since then, the dish’s popularity has continued to grow. The little town of Rădăuți, located 37 kilometers from the municipality of Suceava, gained an international reputation as the soup carrying its name began gaining more and more fame inside and outside the country’s borders. People from all over the world who have tasted the soup in some of the Romanian food restaurants would come to Romania, to this small town in north-eastern Romania, only to taste the “original.”

Cornelia, a generous soul, did not shy away from sharing the recipe that, in almost half a decade, has traveled to some of the farthest places on this earth. Many changes have been brought to the original recipe, much to the disappointment of its creator. But this only solidifies that if you wish to try out the original version, you must come to the city of Rădăuți. In fact, the fame this soup has brought to the town is Cornelia’s proudest achievement. In 2007, she was awarded the Honorary Citizen award.

Rădăuți soup, a sample of Romanian cuisine, has become a brand name for the city of Rădăuți and Romania. And it all started in an attempt to end the nagging of a hungry man. So if you visit a Romanian restaurant, remember that this soup was not created as a result of someone being bored and experimenting in the kitchen, nor is it the result of long research and preparation; it is the end product of a mix of whims, ingenuity, and love.

Naomi Gherman

Master student in Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations at Babeș-Bolyai University, eager to share more about our world's most fascinating stories and people. Romania-based reader, writer and content creator with a strong interest in journalism, foreign languages and politics.

Latest from Romania