The glorious and versatile Hungarian soups

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Hungarians are especially passionate about their hundred kinds of soups (or more and it is no exaggeration) with even fierce rivalries between regional variations of the same dish.

Let’s start with the Goulash

The importance of livestock and the nomadic lifestyle of the Hungarian people are apparent in the prominence of meat in Hungarian food and may be reflected in traditional soup dishes, cooked over open fire in kettle such as the Goulash (cattle herd’s men soup-meal or stockmen soup) and the spicy Fisherman’s soup (a bit similar to Bouillabaisse). At making some traditional soups Hungarian chefs always like to combine beef and pork and enrich with noodles and dumplings or various forms of soup sticks like vermicelli and liver noodle. Potatoes and rice are commonly added to soup as well.

There is a saying in Hungary: if you have only two ingredients at home you can improvise for instance a delicious caraway seed soup or egg soup or even a hangover soup! But of course the Goulash is the ace among the Hungarian soups which is a bit similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two; however, Goulash soup generally has more liquid than stews and it can also be enriched with small dumplings, egg noodles see picture above-(csipetke in Hungarian, fingernail-sized bits out of the dough (csip means =pinch, before adding them to the boiling soup) or potatoes. But it is enough talking about the Goulash soup however I can bravely declare that it is the best composed soup among the so far existing soups all over the world. The Germans even set the soup to music…

Three hearty soups for winter

Kidney bean soup with smoked ham 

Ingredients: 1 lb boneless pork loin, cubed in bite sized pieces, if desired, about 4 cups chicken or pork stock, 1 piece of smoked knuckle of 200 grs, or it can be replaced with 1 lb good quality smoked Polish or Hungarian sausage, 300 grs colourful beans or 2 cans kidney beans not drained, 3 carrots, 25 ounces potatoes, 1 root of parsley, 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of red pepper, 3 tbs of flour, salt, pepper bayleaves, marjoram, basil, oregano and finely chopped fresh parsley

Soak beans in water and smoked pork in advance for overnight. Start to cook next day.

1. Put beans and ham in a pot and pour over water as well as the soaking water. Add onion and bayleaves, season with a bit of salt and sweet paprika powder. 2. Let it cook for one hour (but if you use canned bean than put the vegetables first and latter the kidney beans). 3. When the beans and meats are half-cooked, add the chopped vegetables, carrot, celery and diced potatoes, removed ham and cut into small cubes, and then put it back into the soup and continue cooking together. 4. When the beans, the knuckle and the vegetables are almost tender start to flavor. First add a pinch of thyme, a pinch of oregano, basil, marjoram, pepper. Then make a traditional roux in a separate pan (melt butter soatée onion and garlic flavor with red pepper and finally add flour) and when it is ready, dense the soup with that. Enrich with pasta noodles, and finish cooking.

Broth with meat

Meat soups-“húsleves” or broth are consumed at least once or twice a week in Hungary. This soup made by bringing to a boil and then simmering meat or chicken parts and/or bones in water, with various vegetables and flavorings. The classic chicken soup consists of a clear broth, often served with small pieces of chicken or vegetables, or with noodles or dumplings, or grains such as rice and barley.

Ingredients:1 kg of beef bones, 25 ounces of beef, 1 large onion, 1 egg white, 1 tbs of tomato paste, 3 carrots, turnip or parsley roots, celery, salt, pepper and paprika

Crush the bones, scald off and rinse. Cut the meat into 1 cm-s pieces, and place into the pot. Pour over 2 liters of cold water. Add onion, flavor with salt, pepper and sweet Hungarian paprika powder. Let it simmer for 1 hour. Meanwhile clean and chop vegetables, toss them into cooking water and let them cook up.(The vegetables if we use at serving, sieve and set aside.) Finally when every ingredients are tenderly cooked, allow to settle for a few minutes. Then disconnect the fat and filter vegetables through a thick sieve or a clean tea towel. Degrease again before serving. Cook egg noodles in a separate pot in boiling water. When it is not hard anymore, sieve, rinse with cold water and serve with hot soup!

Jókai bean soup

The soup was named after a romantic writer, novellist Maurice Jokai (1825-1905) who was fond of it.

400 gr of dry beans, 2 pairs of Debrecen sausage, smoked pork knuckle about half kg, 2 liters of water, 80 grams of flour, 2 dl of cream, 2-3 carrots, 2 parsley roots, quarter of celery, 1 onion, pepper, 2 bay leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tbs vinegar

Soak dry beans about a day before cooking. Cook the pork until tender. Toast the chopped onion in a little fat, then simmer with sliced ​​vegetables together. Pour the beans with the soaking water together, add the juice of smoked knuckle, the chopped green peppers, tomatoes and bay leaves and salt to taste. Fry the sausage, then cut into rings. Use the fried sausage grease make a light roux, sprinkle with a bit of paprika, add parsley, then the crushed garlic. Dilute with a bit of liquid from the soup then through a sieve, stir into bean soup. Re-boil it, season with a little of vinegar, add the sausage and cook noodles to soup. If necessary, add hot water to dilute. Mix sour cream with one egg. To serve add the chop, boned, cut into small squares knuckle meat, and spoon over hot soup. Add a few tablespoons of sour cream to and enjoy.

Chicken soup has also acquired the reputation of a folk remedy for colds and flu’s, and in many countries it is considered a classic comfort food.Hungarian chicken soup is a consommé, called even Ùjházi chicken soup it is made with entire pieces of chicken, chicken liver and heart, with chunky vegetables and spices like whole black peppercorn, bay leaves, salt and ground black pepper. The vegetables boiled along with the pieces of chicken are usually carrots, celeriac, parsley root and parsnip.

The chicken flavor of the soup is most potent when the chicken is simmered in water with salt and only a few vegetables, such as onion, carrots, and celery. Variations on the flavor are gained by adding root vegetables such as parsnip, potato, sweet potato and celery root, herbs such as parsley, dill, other vegetables such as zucchini, whole garlic cloves or tomatoes and black pepper. The soup should be brought slowly to a boil and then simmered in a covered pot on a very low flame for one to three hours, adding water if necessary. A clearer broth is achieved by skimming the film of congealed fat off the top of the soup as it is cooking, first bringing the chicken to boil from a pot of cold water and discarding the water before continuing, or straining it through a strainer or cheesecloth. Saffron is sometimes added as a yellow colorant.

 One more word about soups: Some remarkable soups that are hardly noticed by locals, but usually conjure up much enthusiasm amongst foreigners the cold fruit soup the Sour cherry soup (in Hungarian: hideg meggyleves) and the Cold green bean soup with sour cream or yogurt. They are also important part of the Hungarian cuisine.


4 thoughts on “The glorious and versatile Hungarian soups

    Naz Kovacs said:
    November 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    My husband’s birthday is coming up so I’m planning to make a Hungarian meal for him and dessert, I was thinking of making the Goulash. Is it hard to make?

    spajzgirl responded:
    November 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Hi Naz,
    not at all! It’s a piece of cake!!!Just please use the paprika powder instead of bell pepper!!! I don’t use red wine because it makes it sour..
    if you have any problem don’t hesitate to write I will be at your service and keep my fingers crossed!!!Good luck dear friend and happy birthday to your husband Mr Kovacs!
    CU in the cyber world!

    Naz Kovacs said:
    November 11, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks Lilla,

    I found out I might have to work the night of his birthday 😦 Is it possible to make the goulash earlier in the day and then have it after I finish work?

    Also do you mind sending me an email with the recipe on how you make it?

    My email address is

    And thanks for the birthday wishes!

    Naz Kovacs said:
    November 16, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Hi Lilla,

    I was wondering if it would be ok for me to make the goulash in the morning if I have to go to work later in the day? Is it possible to make it ahead of time?

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