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Hungarian Goulash Soup (Gulyásleves)

Hollóko, Hungary, just north of BudapestThanks to my connection with and a Hungarian recipe blog, I am often asked about Hungarian Goulash.

So what makes it a Hungarian goulash (Hungarians call it gulyás, pronounced gooi'yash)? This traditional stew of Hungary can be traced back to the Ninth Century Magyar shepherds. Made of chunks of meat and onions, it was cooked slowly until the liquid was boiled off. It would then be dried in the sun. This allowed the meat to be used to prepare a stew by boiling it in water. Delicious!

By the way, you might not know paprika wasn't added to the recipe for goulash until the 18th-century.

Try the recipe below. It is only one of many ways to make it. I would love to hear about your favorite. Read how I helped Hungarians connect with their culture. Or, look at my Hungarian recipe page for categories of recipes you might enjoy. You can check out a recipe for Pogácsa now





  • 2 pounds (1 kilogram) beef (chuck or other stew beef)
  • 6 tablespoons (100 grams) lard (or other cooking fat)
  • 2 to 3 medium onions (300 grams)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon caraway
  • 2 tablespoons hot Hungarian paprika (You can mix with sweet Hungarian paprika - try Szeged Sweet Paprika, 5oz - to your taste.)
  • Salt to taste
  • 10 cups (2.5 liters) beef stock
  • 4 medium new potatoes (770 grams of the Hungarian Rózsaburgonya, or "pink potato") -- peeled and cut into 1/2-inch square (1-1.5 cm. square) cubes
  • 2 banana peppers, chopped (these are also called "Hungarian wax." Use the sweet blunt or the pointed piquant ones.)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or a 15-ounce can of tomatoes, seeded and chopped)
  • A bunch of celery leaves, tied in a bundle with string
  1. Garnish: homemade pasta bits (made from 1 egg and about 3/4 cup (or 10 decagrams) flour) and finely chopped green onions.

  2. Prepare the meat by cutting away all fat and cubing it into small pieces--about 1/2-inch square (1-1.5 cm. square). Set aside.

  3. Chop the onion finely and saute in hot lard in a Dutch oven until golden brown. Stir in the crushed garlic. Sprinkle with caraway and stir in.

  4. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool down. Sprinkle on all the Hungarian paprika and stir in well--then mix in the meat cubes and salt. Return the pot to a medium heat and let roast, mixing from time to time and adding stock, if needed, to keep it from drying out. When nicely roasted, moisten again, cover, and let stew.

  5. When the meat is soft, add the potato cubes, the chopped peppers, chopped tomatoes, and the remaining stock (add water to make a total of about 12 cups (3 liter) of soup) -- then plunge in the bundle of celery leaves. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables and meat are tender.

  6. Prepare the pasta by kneading the flour into the beaten egg. A food processor is OK. The dough will be stiff. Cover with plastic and let rest for at least an hour. Knead again briefly, then roll into a pencil shape and cut into pea-size pieces. Sprinkle with a little flour to keep from sticking.

  7. When 10 minutes away from serving, bring the soup to a boil. Add the pasta pieces, reduce heat, cover partially, and leave alone for about 5 minutes or so. Mix carefully. Remove celery bundle. Then ladle into bowls and top with finely chopped green onions.