GULYASLEVES

GULYASLEVES (Hungarian goulash soup, sixteen cups, serving eight to ten)

George Lang sets out basic rules for making goulash soup in his book The Cuisine of Hungary; he writes “Never use any flour.  Never use any spice besides caraway.  Never Frenchify it with wine.  Never Germanize it with brown sauce.  Never put in any other garniture besides diced potatoes or galuska (little dumplings).   But …. you may use fresh tomatoes, tomato puree, garlic, sliced green peppers (or) hot cherry peppers.”  He applies the same rules to making gulyas, the stew version of the dish.  The recipe that follows observes only some of those rules.

5 slices bacon

3 pounds boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into ½ inch cubes

3 medium onions (about 1-1/2 pounds), chopped fine

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet)

1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds

1/3 cup all purpose flour

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup tomato paste

5 cups beef stock

5 cups water

½ teaspoon salt

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch dice

4 large russet (baking) potatoes (about 2-1/2 pounds)


  1. In an 8-quart heavy kettle cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. In the fat remaining in the kettle brown chuck in small batches over high heat, transferring it as browned with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
  1. Reduce heat to moderate and add oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden.  Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.  Whisk in the vinegar and tomato paste and cook, whisking, 1 minute (the mixture will be very thick).  Stir in the broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon (crumbled) and chuck and bring to a boil, stirring.  Simmer the soup, covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½ inch dice. Add the potatoes to the soup and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
  1. Soup may be prepared 3 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Reheat, thinning with water if desired.

NOTE:  If you find yourself with a spare bottle handy, you can replace some of the water with dark beer or even stout.

from Gourmet Magazine, December, 1994

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