Goulash Soup - Hungary's National Dish

Goulash Soup - Hungary's National Dish

A Jewel from Hungary's Culinary Treasure Chest

Goulash soup (Hungarian: Gulyásleves) gets its name from the Hungarian word for cowherd (called "gulyás"). From the 10th to the 13th centuries, the word was used to refer to a shepherd. However, the dish itself was not invented until much later. The shepherds liked to prepare their beef in metal pots in the open air while herding their sheep. In the 19th century, goulash soup became very popular not only among the common people but also the aristocracy.

The main ingredients of the soup, which is now considered to be Hungary's national dish, include paprika, potatoes, carrots, cumin and beef. Nowadays, however, almost any type of meat can be used instead of beef including sheep, pork and poultry.

Here is a traditional recipe for this popular Hungarian dish.

Ingredients for goulash soup:

  • 600 g beef shank
  • 400 g potatoes
  • 300 g red onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large turnip
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 small stick of celery
  • 1 small tomato
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp paprika (half of which can be chillies, depending on your preference)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ bunch of parsley
  • 5 leaves of celery
  • 2 tbsp fat or oil
  • 2.5 L water

Goulash soup is traditionally served with "csipetke" or pinched pasta.

Ingredients for "csipetke" or pinched pasta:

  • 80 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt

Knead all the ingredients to make a smooth dough. Let it rest for a few minutes. Pinch off little pieces and keep aside. Add to the soup in the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Once they float to the surface, they are done.

Once you have assembled all the ingredients, you can start with the recipe. Keep in mind that the cooking time may vary depending on the type of meat. Poultry, for example, cooks faster than beef.


  1. Wash the meat, pat dry, cut into 2 cm cubes and set aside.
  2. Peel and chop the onions. Sauté in hot oil or fat.
  3. Add paprika and deglaze with 1.5 dl of water. Cook until the fat separates.
  4. Now add the beef cubes (or other meat of your choice) and sauté until lighter in colour.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, add cumin, crushed garlic, diced tomato, whole, peeled peppers and bay leaves. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer in its own juice for 90 minutes. Note: for a spicier soup, add hot chillies later!
  6. Next dice the carrots, turnip, celery stick and potatoes and add them to the soup with the chopped parsley and celery leaves along with 2 - 2.5 litres of water. Cover and simmer for 50 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, you can prepare the csipetke or pinched pasta.
  8. After 50 minutes of cooking the soup, it is almost ready. At this point, add the pinched pasta and optionally hot chillies (if desired) and cook for another 10 minutes.

This recipe was submitted by Gábor, a member of our Hungarian team at Piccantino. Thank you, Gábor!
Jo étvágyat!