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Jan 15, 2011 07:25 AM

Bavarian Goulash Soup: HELP!!

When we were in Munich recently, my husband had a goulash soup at one of the Christmas Markets. I would love to find a good recipe. The beef was so well cooked, it was virtualy shredded. The soup base was thick, but appeared to have been thickened by pureeing the veggies rather than by use of a thickener (like four). There were still very small, identifiable pieces of potato, and perhaps other veggies, but not a lot.. It was not 'hot" in the way some Indian food or Mexican food is hot, but it was definately richly spicy. Sorry -- can't describe it any other way. And of course the wonderfulness of the soup grows with each day he goes without and dreams about it .

Does anyone have a recipe? My only other alternative is just to send him back to Bavaria.

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    1. Take a look at this recipe:

      It makes the most delicious, thick, rich goulash stew (really called porkolt, but that's beside the point :), but in the video upon which this recipe is based (and which I can't locate at the moment), the man making it basically says that if you don't simmer off all of the liquid, and you add some potato, you have goulash soup. And based on the flavor of the stew, the soup version would be wonderful and exactly how you describe it -- richly spicy.

      I've made this recipe several times and am ridiculously addicted to it. Make sure you get the Hungarian paprikas, as they are what make the dish.

      Oops, just found the video. The link to it is actually part of that blog post, but here it is:

      14 Replies
      1. re: TorontoJo

        Made this tonight. DW gave it five stars! Didn't have any juniper berries, but I can't see how that would make much difference.

        1. re: DonShirer

          I don't use juniper berries either. Glad you liked it -- t's so very good and hearty. I think I know what I'm making this weekend!

          1. re: DonShirer

            This recipe for pörkölt looks like it's right up my alley. I've got 2# of beef thawing that will work great.

            Question about the juniper berries, though. Does anyone think adding a small amount of an extra dry gin might work, or would the other aromatics in gin work against it in this type of recipe? I'd rather not make the hike over the hill to Penzey's, but would still like to get some sort of juniper flavor into the dish.

            I'm also going to give making spaetzle a try to serve with it, extruding the strands into the boiling water with a potato ricer. I've got potatoes I can steam or mash in case doing it this way is a flop! :)

            1. re: RelishPDX

              I'm not sure that a small amount of gin would hurt or help much either way.

              One note about your spaetzle -- I would think the holes in a ricer would be too small to make spaetzle. Maybe you could make a slightly thicker batter and just cut and scrape chunks of the batter into the water? It would make bigger dumplings, but for porkolt, I would rather have bigger chewier dumplings than itty bitty ones. But that's just my personal preference. :)

              1. re: TorontoJo

                Oh, good idea on the spaetzle. I'll give that a try. Thanks for the quick reply!

                About the gin, I'm thinking now I'll probably wait until I'm at that go/no go point, taste, then make a decision. It might be interesting.

                1. re: RelishPDX

                  Please report back, as I'm curious if you use the gin and how it turns out. Also, as with most stews, this just gets better on day 2, but it's pretty damn awesome on day 1.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    Okie dokie, it's 4am here now, and the pot just went into the oven to braise at 200°, rather than simmer on top of the stove. I'll check it in about 90 minutes to see how it's coming along. I followed the recipe to the T, but I've some reservations about it. Here are my initial thoughts:

                    • The size of the beef chunks could easily go down to a 3/4" or 1" cut instead of a 2" cut and improve the dish from the extra browning surface;

                    • There should be some basic measurements for the salt and pepper, rather than just "to taste";

                    • I originally got out my 3.5-qt. saute pan, but swapped it for the 5.5-qt. chili pot to stay true to the recipe. Next time I'll go with my gut instinct and do the saute pan. The pot isn't even 1/3 full once the recipe gets to the braising point;

                    • A few things appear out of order in the instructions. When I read "add the meat ... " I knew exactly what would happen, it would steam instead of brown, especially wet meat added to sweating veg on medium heat. And that's what it did. I would change things around to start with browning the beef in batches in the saute pan in half of the oil first (I used the lard that was suggested), then deglaze the pan with a broth/wine mixture, using the deglazing liquid to marinate the beef while the onion and bell pepper are sweating down in the other half of the fat;

                    I did add the gin, since the dish tasted rather flat as it was going into the oven. I only put 1/4 cup in, which didn't change things much.

                    I'll be interested to see what the texture of the beef is like once it's done braising. Who knows, this could be exactly like it's supposed to be at this stage of the game, but the recipe seems to break every known rule in the book to get to where it wants to go. Should be interesting!

                    Okay, gotta go find where the yeast is lurking, I've got Hot Cross Buns with Yellow Goo to bake. :)

                    1. re: RelishPDX

                      Wow, you cook late. :)

                      Heh, I know what you mean about the recipe -- it doesn't seem like it will amount to much. But just let it keep going and in a few hours it turns into a wonderful dish. As you keep braising, the meat breaks down into smaller chunks and creates an incredibly thick sauce. I go a full 3 hours because I like what it does to the texture of the dish. I've made a double recipe of this and don't even bother with the browning step. I think I do add a bit more paprika than the recipe calls for, otherwise I don't change a thing.

                      If you haven't yet, watch the video of the guy making this over an open fire. Browning the separate chunks of beef doesn't really factor into his technique! :)

                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        Yeah, crazy hours is part of the official Keep Portland Weird campaign. ;)

                        It's starting to smell good at the 2-hour mark, and I'm hangin' in there with it. I've got the faith. I was thinking about dosing it with a teaspoon of smoked paprika at this stage of the game. What do you think?

                        1. re: RelishPDX

                          Please, Relish - Keep Portland Weird. We Seattleites need somewhere interesting to go close by:)

                          I would say your cooking early, not late. The Goulash stew sounds delish. I can see the interest in adding smoked paprika. Since I use that almost exclusively these days, ordinary Bhudapest doesn't seem very paprika-ey anymore.

                          1. re: gingershelley

                            Well, final verdict on this, I'll let it sit overnight in the fridge to see what it develops into tomorrow, but as it stands now, this isn't anything I'd want more of past that spoonful. It cooked for 5 1/2 hours, and I had to manually break the meat apart even then. It fell apart easily though, just not by itself as I stirred it. It needed the help of the potato masher going over it lightly.

                            Three things dismayed me about it, first, you can never correct that "this meat was steamed instead of browned" consistency and taste, then the seasonings are off, more so than I can correct at this point, and it's not a dish worth ingesting 3 tablespoons of lard over. And I like a little grease in my food, I'm not afraid of it.

                            Oh well! Sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. Another thing I was surprised about, I can't even taste any onion in it. One of the things the recipe said was to keep the onion at a minimum because it can easily overpower the dish. But I can't even tell that it has any onion in it at all.

                            On the weirdness front, the recipe for the Hot Cross Buns I just pulled from the oven had given instructions to bake them for 15-18 minutes—if I hadn't peeked at 10 minutes, I would have been left with Hot Charred Buns.

                            I don't know how the recipe could be that far off. The centers were completely baked through, and I checked the oven temp before loading them in to bake, so it wasn't like I'd done something improper to the crust before baking. I'm going to have to leave a comment on the website about it.

                            Oh well, hopefully third time's a charm—there's a batch of my first attempt at that Artisan Bread in 5 rising on the counter. It's bubbling away just as it should. :)

                            1. re: RelishPDX

                              Oh sad. I'm sorry it didn't do anything for you. I really do love the recipe and thinks it makes a wonderfully rich and tasty stew. Since you're stuck with a big batch, it does make a great base for soup. :)

                              1. re: TorontoJo

                                That's okay! Some things work, some things don't, and I appreciated your posts. If I don't try new stuff and different ways of doing things, I won't learn much.

          2. re: TorontoJo

            This recipe looks great, one of the best I've seen for goulash. I didn't know the distinction between pörköit and goulash. What I've been working on and perfecting all these years has been pörköit and not goulash!

            But, just a thought. It seems to me that the video describes an authentic Hungarian Hungarian Goulash, which is not necessarily the same thing as the German Style Hungarian Goulash soup that is served in German restaurants. The German style Hungarian Goulash soup is delicious, while being popular over there as easy to make in a half hour. I'm not sure I'd want to braise meat for hours to reproduce that soup.

          3. UPDATE: Thanks for all of the input, friends! This is the recipe that I finally used:


            I think that they key to making it as my husband remembered it was in pureeing the soup with my stick blender (yep, meat and all). I started the soup yesterday evening, and finished it today. It's really good, but will be better tomorrow. It has a very nice texture and a good kick -- I added some smoked paprika in addition to the regular. My husband likened the result to "sorta like a chili, but not really" (gotta love him). The pumpernickle bread is in the oven. All we need now are some Bavarians knoching at the door dressed in lederhosen and hats with bif feather brushes. So where is the snow?

            3 Replies
            1. re: PattiCakes

              Well, I am as close to a Bavarian as needed to comment. I lived in Germany for 3 years and what you describe as goulasch is the very antithesis of what I enjoyed. In the truckstops and cafes of northern Bavaria the preferred dish is a watery paprika-laced broth with tender chunks of beef seasoned with caraway and served with brotchen.

              1. re: Mayor of Melonville

                Interesting. We had the style of goulaschsuppe I described jn several places, including Munich, and that is what my husband has been fantasizing about since we got back. That's not to say that the other style (thin soup) isn't prevalent, it's just not what we experienced. I wonder if it is more regional. We were in Munich, Garmisch, Koblenz and Rudesheim, near where my brother-in-law was stationed for 5 years, and the thicker style was what he remembered.

              2. re: PattiCakes

                The recipe at the link that you said you used isn't what I recall as the Gulaschsuppe served in Germany, either. The authentic soup that I recall, that was pretty standard in German restaurants, wasn't pureed, or thick like chili, etc. Gulaschsuppe, which I was fond of ordering in just about every restaurant I'd visit, did have caraway seeds, unlike the recipe at the link you tried. The broth is richly flavored and savory with paprika, but it wasn't thickened. On the other hand, I wouldn't describe it as watery or thin, either.

                You might want to try one of the recipes with caraway seeds and less thickening. Perhaps he thought it was like chili because of the large amount of paprika in gulyas style dishes (which is on the scale of the amount of chile powder in chili). The caraway seed is a key characteristic flavor, although if you're eating it with rye bread, I guess that caraway flavor will get in the mix eventually. I'm not an expert on german-hungarian cooking, but you might want to look for an authentic recipe to contain also marjoram, a couple of paprikas, & bell pepper.

              3. Here's what looks to me like an authentic recipe, from a big german recipe site,
                Echte Gulaschsuppe (means "Real Goulasch Soup")

                I don't think we're allowed to cut and paste recipes from other sources, but you can paste it into Google translate yourself, and set the translation to go from German to English.

                1. We also fell in love with Goulash Soup after winter travel in Europe (why isn't it better-known in the United States?) and this is what I improvised after we got home. Put in dry crock of slow cooker 1/2 cup flour, 2 tablespoons sweet (not hot) paprika, and 2 tsp salt. Mix in 16 oz canned tomato sauce and 3 cups water, stirring to avoid lumps. Add about 2 lb beef, 4 potatoes, 2 large onions, and 1 sweet red pepper, all cut into bite size. You can also add a can of "petite" chopped tomatoes. Add 1/2-1 tsp hot red chili pepper according to taste. Add a little more water to bring level about an inch from top of a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker. Cook on low 10-12 hours---meat should be falling apart until it seems to be one with the spicey tomatoey liquid. You may want to add a little water during cooking to maintain the level of liquid. Correct seasoning with salt, hot chili pepper. (PattiCakes, I realize this uses flour as a thickener, not what you were looking for, but this is very good soup.)