Hungarian cooking: Goulash soup

Goulash soup
Goulash soup

Goulash soup (or in Hungarian: Gulyásleves) is one of the national dishes of Hungary, and also the symbol of the country. This rich, warming comfort food gives you energy for the cold winter days. Although, it is commonly cooked in summertime as well, especially in a cauldron, over the fire in the gardens.


The name “Gulyás” originates from the word “gulya”, meaning a herd of kettle, and “gulyás” is the herdsman,- later on meaning the meat as well, as the ingredient for the dish. In the Hungarian cuisine “gulyásleves”, “bográcsgulyás”, “pörkölt” (stew), and “paprikás” (stew with sour creamy sauce), all cooked with a slightly different technique, that is not noticeable in other country’s Goulash, as they mainly mean a thick stew by “Goulash”.

Goulash can be prepared from beef, pork, lamb or veal. The consistency of the soup is up to the cut of the meat that is used. More muscles are cooked, rich in collagen, the thicker the soup will be.

Gulyás soup recipe

Ingredients for 4-6 people:

  • 2-medium sized onions finely chopped
  • 1-whole pepper chopped
  • 1-whole tomato chopped (not necessary, but lately commonly used)
  • 50-60 dkgs of meat cubed. You can use pork shoulder, any of the beef roast cuts.  Note:  beef takes longer to cook (3-4 hours).
  • 2 pieces of potato cubed
  • 2 pieces of carrots halved and chopped into 2- cms cubes or sliced
  • 1/2- celeriac (celery root) cubed
  • Optional- Csipetke or some small bits of pasta
  • 1 tbs quality Hungarian sweet paprika, plus a bit of spicy paprika if you like it.
  • Salt
  • Ground caraway seed
  • 2 tablespoon of lard or oil


  • Add the lard to the pot.
  • Next pour in your onions. Watch carefully until the onions become glossy and saucy. Take the onion off the fire and add the paprika powder (mild and spicy, up to your taste), mix it with the onion. Add a bit of water when needed, to prevent burning.
  • Add the meat cubes, and put the pot back on the fire. Sprinkle in salt and caraway seed. Again this will depend on your tastes.
  • Once the meat has a bit of color (roast on big fire), add some water, the chopped pepper and tomatoes, and lower the fire.  At this point you can cover it and occasionally stir and check the broth for taste. Season accordingly.
  • You’ll want to maintain the soup at a gentle boil, stirring regularly to prevent burning.
  • After an hour and a half to two hours, check the meat. When it’s about done add your chopped carrots and celeriac and 10 minutes later the chopped potatoes.
  • Once the vegetables are almost to your liking add in the pasta pieces. They only need a few minutes.
  • Again, taste the broth and adjust your seasoning.

Serve it with fresh white bread, freshly ground spicy paprika (Erős Pista) or the spicy green pepper.

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