What is borș?

For me, as a Romanian, as I grew up, every day my family had a kind of borș as the first course of lunch. This is so embeded in my DNA that when I started travelling abroad I missed this sour soup. I missed it so much that I walked all around cities like Koln or Amsterdam to find it.

If we take a look West to East, we will see that soups tend to be more creamy in France, more meaty in Scandinavia and more sour in the East. This has both cultural and historical reasons.

The key ingredient

First of all, you may say, what is borș? Do not imagine it is something extravagant or a new master chef recipe. Also, do not imagine my family is any different than other Romanian families. Borș is a kind of sour soup. It is a general term for any kind of soup in Romania, especially in the Eastern part. In different regions you may find it as ciorbă, zeamă or supă.

The main ingredient is borș. It is a mixture of water, grain bran (either wheat or barley – I like the barley one more); the bran is actually the best part of the grain – the one that has most of the minerals and vitamins of grain (see whole grain bread). This ingredient is useful for a number of illnesses or body ailments. It can help lose weight, it can hydrate you and it can help you stomach.

In my family there was an old tradition to make the mixture ferment faster, but I will not share it with the Internet, it tends to be a little embarrassing.

Anyway, we call the main ingredient borș as we call the soups. What is so special about this soup? I didn’t think about it until today, but it seems that Romania has a huge number of different kinds of borș. According to tasteastlas.com this little country might have the most kinds of sour soups in Europe, or even in the world. Now I think I shall further research this and come back with more information.


The variety is larger than the map shows – remember, in Romania we have more than 13 different nationalities, each with its own specific. So, we have meat, fish and vegetable borș. This is due to the fact that the majority of Romanians made their soups with what they grew in their yard and living of the land; nowadays we still keep the tradition by living of the land of the supermarket. Yeah, I like it the old way more! It tastes better – more natural.

You may find pork, beef, chicken or even mutton in your soup; according to the region the meat may vary. The constant is the vegetables. The best kind of borș, if you’d ask me, is rooster soup, made fresh with a ton of veggies, homemade noodles and made sour with borș and unripe fruit. It reminds me of my grandmother and her slow cooking.

If you ever visit Romania, come and taste the local borș. Either in sour soups, I recommend fish borș in Dobrogea, borș rădăuțean in Bukovina, meatball borș in Oltenia and mutton borș sweetened with cream in Moldova. You have more than 20 kinds to choose from. You need a very long vacation here to taste all kinds.

And if you do not enjoys soups, you could drink borș especially if you have had a long night. It really helps if your head is a little heavy in the morning, if you know what I mean.

Did you know already what is borș? Did you ever tried it? What kind of borș do you like? Do you have a favourite recipe? Tell us.

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