Fishermans Soup – Halászlé



flat-lay photography of vegetable soup on white ceramic cup

I grow up on the shores of the Donau river. My grandfather was a fisherman, and we (my brother and uncles, cousins) spent our summer holidays in our fisherman cottage at the banks of the Great River. I remember my Grandfather coming home with the catch, we made a fire, and an hour later we had a fantastic fish soup, hot, could hardly eat it, but it was marvellous. Those days will never come back, but I have the soup left, exactly the way my grandfather  prepared it, to remember. This recipe I kept for many years, and I cook this soup very often. And I still love it. Here’s how to do it:

  • Clean the fish carefully. Remove all the internal organs, cut off the fins, but keep the milt and the roe (they go into the soup later). Cut the fish into 1-2 inches pieces, salt them generously, and stack them in a pot. You will need the fish head to, don’t throw away! Leave it to rest in the refrigerator till you prepare the rest os the ingredients and the pasta, about 15 minutes.
  • Chop the onions, and spray over the fish, and let it rest.
  • Now it is time to prepare the dough for the pasta: salt the flour, and knock the eggs into it, every 100 g flour – 1 egg. The kneaded dough should be quite hard, almost impossible to work with. Most of the time this works fine, but if you feel that it’s to hard, pour some (very little) water on it, if it’s to soft, add more flour. It should not stick at all.
  • Stretch the dough with a pasta machine (or hand) into 1-2 mm thick. Cut 5-6 cm wild stripes of it, and, with plenty of flout between, lay the stripes on each other. With a very sharp knife cut 2 mm pieces into a pasta look like matches. We call it actually “pasta like matches”.
  • Heat 1 gallon (4 litre) of water, salt it generously. When it is boiling, pour the pasta in it. The fresh pasta cooks in about 2 minutes, stir it constantly, when all of it comes up to the top, it’s ready. Taste it, if it’s “al dente”, it’s done. Strain it, and rinse it with cold water. Sprinkle a little oil on it, and shake well.
  • Now back to the soup: Pour 1 litre of water to every kilogram fish (we use to make 2,5 kg fish for 4 persons, so we add 2,5 litre water to it). Since this soup is mostly prepared for the liquid, be generous with the fish. Put the pot on the fire, and boil it till it is boiling heavily. IMPORTANT: do not stir it with a spoon or something else, shake the pot to disturb the soup. If you stir this soup with a tool, the fish will brake and fall apart, and will not be enjoyable.
  • Now, let’s make some “Halaszle”: pour the Hungarian Sweet Paprika into the soup, then the pressed garlic, the fish cubes, and the dried chillies. Cook, and boil heavily for 15 minutes, and add the milt or/and the roe (if the fish had these). Cook for an other 5 minutes, and pour the red wine in to the soup. Now, you are in the finish, cook heavily in 10 minutes, not more, and it’s done.
  • To serve, place the “match pasta” in a soup plate, and pour the fish soup over it. Some like it (me too) filtered, to enjoy a clear soup. Place one of the chilis to each plate, to push gently, to release the heat. Serve a piece of fish on a separate plate, many of us like it that way, it’s easy to remove the bones and thorn.
Jó Étvágyat!
Source: Laszlo Vida
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