Hungarian Goulash – the original


  • 3 tablespoons of oil or lard
  • 5 medium onions, diced
  • 2,5 teaspoon salt
  • 2,5 liter (2,5 quarts) water
  • 3 large tablespoon Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • 0,5 teaspoon whole black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Caraway seeds
  • 1,5 kilograms (3,25 lbs) of beef, chopped in cubes
  • 5 medium carrots, sliced bite-sized
  • 2 medium parsnip, sliced bite-sized
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • Pinched pasta (Csipetke), optional
beef stew served on dish

Gulyás, or as Goulash to non-Hungarians, is the iconic Hungarian paprika spiked beef soup, red as blood, coloured by the generous amount of sweet Hungarian Paprika. There are only a few rules to making Gulyás, and the variations are endless. There are as many recipes, as families, inheriting the family recipe for generations. The thick soup is made with beef, but it is also common with veal or mutton, and even with chicken thighs (only with chicken breast is not preferred), lots of sweet Hungarian Paprika, onions, carrots, potatoes and parsley roots. The parsley root is very essential for the right taste of the Gulyás, but can be substituted with parsnips. Every cook has his or her own ratio, especially I like mine to be broth rich with lots of meat and vegetables, specially onions. The onions and the potatoes thicken the soup into almost ragout like thickness.

The choice of beef is important, usually a mix of different cuts, since you cook long enough, it will soften, and the soup will be fine. You can use a lesser cut of beef, don’t waste money on expensive cuts.

Many Hungarian recipes starts with a slow sautéing the onion in fat, oil or lard. You are ready with this, when your onions a bit glassy. Now, the next step is very important: take your pot off the heat, and stir in the Paprika, if you do like this, your paprika won’t burn, and your soup will not have the strange burnt-bitter taste. By now you can do several dishes from here, ragout, stew, soup, depending on the amount of liquid. For the Gulyás Soup we add generously water. It is time to wait, sometimes several hours, when the meat is soft enough, in the last 20 minutes you add the vegetables. If you have a Slow Cooker, then its a simple task to make this soup easily.

In Hungary the Gulyás Soup (the Cattleman Soup, if translated) is a simple, everyday food, often eaten as street-food.

  • Heat oil or lard in a large pot, I use cast-iron Dutch Oven, add onions, and a pinch of sea salt. Cook slowly for 10-15 minutes, until the onions are clear and glassy. If your onions are brownish, you’ve overcooked.
  • Remove from the heat, add the Sweet Hungarian Paprika, some whole pepper, and Caraway or Cumin. Stir quickly, and add some water, this will prevent the paprika from burning.
  • Add the meat and garlic and cook the meat for about 5-10 minutes over medium heat, constantly stirring, until the meat is almost cooked through.
  • Add the water and continue cooking over low heat for at least one hour, until the meat is nearly tender. This could take more the one hour. Now, when the meat is almost done, add the vegetables, cook for 15 minutes, or until they are tender enough. In this Soup we do not prefer “al Dente” vegetables.
  • Taste, add salt or pepper if needed.
  • If you are serving with some kind of pasta, csipetke (this is the right pasta for this soup), place it on the plate, and pour the soup over it.


Bon Appetite!



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