Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hungarian Gulyas Soup-- My Way

When I was young (and dangerous), I met a handsome Hungarian man.  In the mid-1970's, we took a trip to Europe.  He spoke five languages, including my mother's native tongue (German).  We visited his family in beautiful Budapest, and I experienced some of the wonderful (and familiar) flavors of Hungary.  This was long before digital cameras were even invented, so I don't have any photos to remember the trip by. It's a shame, because I got to visit parts of Romania (including "Count Dracula's Castle") at a time when the Iron Curtain was still in force.  In other words, as a 19 year old girl, I got to experience first hand what it's like to live in a Communist Country.  I returned home with a deeper appreciation for my American Citizenship, and I will never forget that.

BUDAPEST AT NIGHT, Budapest, Hungary
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: FOOTLOOSE IN BUDAPEST
 

Once we returned to America, Mr. Hungarian took me to a restaurant in San Francisco, called "Paprikas Fono".  It was located at Ghirardelli Square, and we loved two of their dishes so much that I continued to make pilgrimages to the restaurant--even after the relationship ended. Because my mother was born and raised in Bavaria--and her hometown is just a stone's throw from Salzburg, Austria--  I could detect similarities with a commonly used spice... paprika.  One of the two dishes was a rich and flavorful "Gulyas Soup", that was served with lángos bread, with fresh cloves of garlic rubbed all over it.  Divine. (My brother, clearly,  remembers coming with me, to find out what I raved so much about.  He ate so much lángos, that he was doubled over with a gluttonous bellyache.) 

The restaurant closed, years ago, I'm sad to say. A few months ago, a friend gave me a cookbook on Hungarian recipes.  I forgot about it, until last week.   Decades later, I found myself longing for that Gulyas soup from a past life.  I decided to make my own version, since it was so similar to one of my most viewed recipes, "Austrian Goulash".  Instead of researching recipes, I decided to adapt my familiar recipe into a soup. So, I grabbed my camera and started to get creative.  My favorite cut of beef for stews and soups is "Chuck Eye Roast".  It's economical and tender.  I seared two pounds of it, cut-up, in a few batches.

I began with two thinly sliced onion, one red and one green bell pepper.

 Three small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut-up, and I needed paprika (of course).

I can find Hungarian paprika at my local grocery store. I buy two varieties-- sweet and hot.

Once the meat had been browned, and removed I had lots of flavor in my Dutch oven. Adding a bit more olive oil, I cooked the bell peppers until slightly tender and set those aside.  Then, I added the onion and cooked them until tender-- about 4 minutes.

I added a couple cloves of garlic, 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 1/2 Tablespoons sweet paprika and about 2 teaspoons of hot paprika. NOTE: The reason that the tomato paste is "steaming" is that it's frozen.  I do that with any leftover tomato paste, once I open a can. Clever, eh?

Now, I add the browned beef back and all of the juices and toss everything around...

... then I added a quart of Beef Broth.  I suppose you could use beef bouillon cubes and water, but that's not my favorite way of making soup.   I added the bell peppers back to the soup and a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes.

One tablespoon of caraway seeds, two bay leaves, and then the potatoes. I brought the soup to a simmer.

I decided to cut some fresh thyme, from our herb garden, tied it and tossed it in-- for more flavor. The soup simmered on low for a couple of hours, allowing for all the flavors to build.

I realized, a bit late, that I should have added a couple tablespoons of flour   to the onion, as I cooked them. That would have thickened the soup to my liking.  I'm not a fan of thin soup.  My quick fix is to take a couple tablespoons of flour (sometimes potato starch), add some water, while whisking away to prevent lumps.

I carefully add it to the simmering soup, while stirring. It thickens right up!

There it is.  An American Girl, who-once- knew-a-true-Hungarian's version of Gulyas Soup.  I say this, because when I later researched recipes, I found that people can get rather "testy" if you don't make it the way that their grandmother once did.  I believe I captured the flavor, as I remembered it, well.  Now, it was time for my son and husband to taste it:

TASTING NOTES:  This is a rich beef soup, with a lovely balance of tomato and sweet paprika. The hot paprika comes through, in a subtle way, because I didn't add a lot of it.  If you don't like bell peppers (which my son didn't, and he picked them out) then leave them out.  My husband likes them, and liked the soup very much.  The beef is so tender. I wish I had cut the potatoes a little larger, but that's just a personal preference.  

I served this with my first attempt at lángos bread.  It's a fried bread, rubbed with fresh garlic while hot.  I will share how I made it, on my next post.  It was quite an experiment for me to create, and I was happy with the results.  I can see why my brother ate himself sick the first time he ate them.  They are that good, especially if you're a garlic lover.  I'm happy to say, I wasn't as gluttonous, tempted as I was.  For a brief moment, I was back at that restaurant in Ghirardelli Square--  but I was sharing the moment with the man I'm lucky to call "My husband".

A printable recipe card is at the bottom of this post. 





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20 comments:

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Debby this soup looks great and I loved reading the story that went along with it. I sent you a Facebook request. I figured you might not know who it is, lol. So when you see JohnandLisaGhenne...that's me!

farida said...

That soup looks so fresh and yummy...Love it and thanks for share.

Cathy said...

Looks delicious. Can't wait to try this with venison. And great backstory. I love a good "food memory!"

Anita - Recipe with Pictures said...

Gulyas is one of my favorites, and langos is crazy good. We serve langos with garlic or with sour cream and feta cheese. Your gulyas looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

bellini said...

Our travelling days of our late teens and early 20's may be done but the food memories are not forgotten....nor are our travelling days.With a cold wintry blast from the mountains today this goulash /gulyas would be the perfect solution.

Becki's Whole Life said...

Love this story...amazing how we associate food with past memories. This soup sounds right up my alley. The combination of the beef, potatoes and peppers is wonderful!

Valerie said...

Isn't it beautiful the way food can conjure up memories?

I've never had this soup, but it looks (and sounds), wonderful!

Aarthi said...

Awesome Recipe

Aarthi
http://yummytummy-aarthi.blogspot.com/

Wave Watcher said...

When we lived in Germany, we ate many bowls of Goulash Zuppe. I don't recall ever seeing goulash on the menu, but almost always there was the soup. I had also adapted a goulash recipe to make soup. I loved your goulash recipe and will try this one soon. Don't recall hearing of the langos though, even when we were in Budapest.

Barbara said...

This looks delicious. I'm going to try it this week!

Kathryn said...

Beautiful! I'll gladly keep this bookmarked for a lovely Gulyas-soup. I've had it in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bavaria, and Sweden and loved it every time (even some canned versions over there are tasty), but it's been *far* too long since I've gotten to have it, so I guess it's time to make it! Thanks!
Kathryn

Deb said...

After living in Austria my mom began making Hungarian Goulash, which she served with rice. She always kept both types of Paprika in the pantry, as do I. The soup is a new recipe for me. I can't wait to ask my mom if she remembers it! Lovely post!

Deb in Hawaii said...

So great to have you back at Souper Sundays Debby. ;-) Soup great that you were able to recreate a favorite dish/memory into a delicious soup. Thanks for sharing it!

Joanne said...

I love how food can trigger such intense memories....a smell or a flavor...it's the best. This soup sounds so hearty...just the thing to cure me of this winter ache!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Wow - the soup looks so rich and wonderful, but I'm also fascinated by the fried bread!

Candy said...

Beautiful soup and lovely memories!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Well, the relationship didn't work out, but what beautiful memories it gave you. That was a real once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This soup looks likethe perfect comfort on a cold winter night!

Alice said...

This sounds so good...

Laura said...

This soup looks great! Must definitely try this myself.

Chris and Amy said...

We went to Budapest in 2007 and were amazed by the scrumptious food, including goulash. Thanks for reminding us!