Hungarian goulash soup

by | Nov 20, 2015 | Soups

Goulash is one of the Hungarian national dishes and a symbol of the country. Originally I didn’t want to post its recipe because I thought everyone can make it, but while browsing the web and reading different recipes it has become obvious to me that for many people it’s not clear what we call goulash.

The name originates from the Hungarian gulyás, which means herdsman. But over time the word has got a second meaning, a meat dish that was prepared by herdsmen. The origin of the dish dates back to the 17-18th centuries, its first description was published in 1787. One thing is sure, the home of goulash was the Great Hungarian Plain, where stockriders lived and worked with massive herds of cattles. It’s likely that in the beginning goulash, pörkölt (stew) and paprikash all marked the same meat dish that was cooked with paprika in a Hungarian kettle over an open fire. Later the three terms separated and had their own meaning.

The cooking method of goulash was simplified as herdsmen couldn’t putter long; meat, onion and water were put in the bogrács (lard was not used in this case), paprika and salt were added when it was boiling. Herdsmen could do their job, they only had to feed the fire and stir the food occasionally. That goulash occupied an intermediate position between stew and soup, meat was cooked in more liquid than pörkölt or paprikash.

The goulash known by everyone today is the distant relative of the real goulash, its preparation method is similar to stew, though it’s not a stew, but a thick soup. Goulash soup can be prepared in many ways, from beef, pork, mutton or even poultry; there are mushroom and green bean goulash, but you can also meet the so called fake goulash, which is a meat-free soup. Each version has its fans, who do agree on one thing: adding flour to thicken the soup is prohibited.

Hungarian goulash soup
Hungarian goulash soup – photo:

Besides meat goulash soup also contains green pepper, carrot, parsley root and potato dices; celeriac and parsley leaves can be added, too. Tomato is a modern addition, totally unknown in the original recipe. The soup is seasoned with paprika, bay leaf and caraway seeds; it can be enriched with csipetke, which is a kind of egg noodles. Small bits are pinched out of the dough before adding them to the boiling soup.

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Hungarian cottage cheese

This is what Hungarian túró looks like

You often ask me what kind of cottage cheese (or curd cheese or farmer's cheese - call it what you want) I use in the recipes. In Hungary the store-bought cottage cheese is dry and crumbly as you can see in the picture. So if a recipe calls for túró, I mean this type. If you can't obtain túró, you can try to make your own from whole milk. Click on the link below.

Metric system vs cup

In Hungary metric units are in use, all the recipes on this website are based on this system, so a kitchen scale is necessary. Since I’m not familiar with cup as a measurement unit, I convert grams to cups by using an online converter. The values in brackets, therefore, are only approximate volumes, so, please, double-check them before you start cooking.

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