BULGARIA: Supa Topcheta/Супа топчета
Here’s what we learned about Bulgaria in our research this week:
- Yogurt is extremely popular in Bulgaria and eating it is believed to give you a longer life.
Bulgarians shake their heads to mean yes and nod for no.
- Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe that hasn’t changed its name since it was first established in 681 AD.
- Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) is named after his grandfather (Marko) who emigrated from Bulgaria in 1940.
- Many believe that wine has been produced in Bulgaria since the stone age!
I had the great fortune to attend a singing workshop with the lovely ladies of Kitka Vocal Ensemble where I learned how to sing in the Eastern European style. The technique involves a different use of my throat/nose than I had ever been exposed to and the harmonies are haunting. Here is a gorgeous song by Kitka. I honestly don’t know if it’s Bulgarian, but it sure is pretty. And here is a Bulgarian group singing in traditional Bulgarian costumes.
Calvin found this recipe on pinterest and was sold the minute he saw the word “meatballs”. We love us some meatballs in our house – from Italian wedding soup, to Vietnamese beef balls in our pho, spaghetti and meatballs – we love them all. And now we have a new favorite meatball that is also GLUTEN FREE!! Whoo-hoo! In Bulgaria, they add rice to their meatballs instead of bread and, I’m telling you we will be doing the same henceforth in our house. I was a little confused by all the recipes I found online because none of them told me whether the rice should be cooked or uncooked when adding them to the meatballs, so I rolled the dice and opted for uncooked which was correct. Phew!
Supa Topcheta can be made about as many different ways as our own Chicken Noodle soup, so this recipe is an amalgam of various recipes found online with a few of our own ideas tossed in for good measure. In the end, it was a winner. All thumbs up!Apparently, it was “everyone wear red” night at our house. I didn’t even notice until processing the photos. Funny. Also, if you don’t like losing, never play Yahtzee with Calvin. He is a ringer. You have been warned.
Supa Topcheta (Bulgarian meatball soup) Супа топчета
For the Meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 1/2 cup white rice, uncooked
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon dried savory
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup gluten free flour (I used Pamela’s)
For the Soup
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 small celery root, cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (not fat free)
- 2 egg yolks
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Prepare the meatballs by combining all the meatball ingredients EXCEPT the flour in a large bowl and mixing well by hand. Allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes (more for better flavor) to allow flavors to meld. Once meat has rested, roll into 1 inch meatballs.
- Roll each meatball in gluten free flour and shake off any excess.
- Bring the water and beef broth to a boil in a large soup pot. Add salt. When water is boiling vigorously, add meatballs in batches – maintaining a solid boil. Once all meatballs have been added, add carrots, celery root and tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk egg yolks until smooth. Add yogurt and lemon juice and whisk well until smooth.
- Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth from the soup pot in a thin stream – stirring constantly. If you add the broth too quickly, the egg/yogurt will curdle, so make sure to go slow and steady as you add the hot broth to the egg/yogurt. Once you have added 1/2 cup of hot broth, slowly pour the egg/yogurt into the soup pot – again going slowly and stirring constantly
- Finally stir in the chopped parsley and serve.