Once we returned to America, Mr. Hungarian took me to a restaurant in San Francisco, called "Paprikas Fono". It was located at Ghirardelli Square, and we loved two of their dishes so much that I continued to make pilgrimages to the restaurant--even after the relationship ended. Because my mother was born and raised in Bavaria--and her hometown is just a stone's throw from Salzburg, Austria-- I could detect similarities with a commonly used spice... paprika. One of the two dishes was a rich and flavorful "Gulyas Soup", that was served with lángos bread, with fresh cloves of garlic rubbed all over it. Divine. (My brother, clearly, remembers coming with me, to find out what I raved so much about. He ate so much lángos, that he was doubled over with a gluttonous bellyache.)
Austrian Goulash". Instead of researching recipes, I decided to adapt my familiar recipe into a soup. So, I grabbed my camera and started to get creative. My favorite cut of beef for stews and soups is "Chuck Eye Roast". It's economical and tender. I seared two pounds of it, cut-up, in a few batches.
I began with two thinly sliced onion, one red and one green bell pepper.
Three small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut-up, and I needed paprika (of course).
I can find Hungarian paprika at my local grocery store. I buy two varieties-- sweet and hot.
Once the meat had been browned, and removed I had lots of flavor in my Dutch oven. Adding a bit more olive oil, I cooked the bell peppers until slightly tender and set those aside. Then, I added the onion and cooked them until tender-- about 4 minutes.
I added a couple cloves of garlic, 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 1/2 Tablespoons sweet paprika and about 2 teaspoons of hot paprika. NOTE: The reason that the tomato paste is "steaming" is that it's frozen. I do that with any leftover tomato paste, once I open a can. Clever, eh?
Now, I add the browned beef back and all of the juices and toss everything around...
... then I added a quart of Beef Broth. I suppose you could use beef bouillon cubes and water, but that's not my favorite way of making soup. I added the bell peppers back to the soup and a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes.
One tablespoon of caraway seeds, two bay leaves, and then the potatoes. I brought the soup to a simmer.
I decided to cut some fresh thyme, from our herb garden, tied it and tossed it in-- for more flavor. The soup simmered on low for a couple of hours, allowing for all the flavors to build.
I realized, a bit late, that I should have added a couple tablespoons of flour to the onion, as I cooked them. That would have thickened the soup to my liking. I'm not a fan of thin soup. My quick fix is to take a couple tablespoons of flour (sometimes potato starch), add some water, while whisking away to prevent lumps.
I carefully add it to the simmering soup, while stirring. It thickens right up!
There it is. An American Girl, who-once- knew-a-true-Hungarian's version of Gulyas Soup. I say this, because when I later researched recipes, I found that people can get rather "testy" if you don't make it the way that their grandmother once did. I believe I captured the flavor, as I remembered it, well. Now, it was time for my son and husband to taste it:
TASTING NOTES: This is a rich beef soup, with a lovely balance of tomato and sweet paprika. The hot paprika comes through, in a subtle way, because I didn't add a lot of it. If you don't like bell peppers (which my son didn't, and he picked them out) then leave them out. My husband likes them, and liked the soup very much. The beef is so tender. I wish I had cut the potatoes a little larger, but that's just a personal preference.
I served this with my first attempt at lángos bread. It's a fried bread, rubbed with fresh garlic while hot. I will share how I made it, on my next post. It was quite an experiment for me to create, and I was happy with the results. I can see why my brother ate himself sick the first time he ate them. They are that good, especially if you're a garlic lover. I'm happy to say, I wasn't as gluttonous, tempted as I was. For a brief moment, I was back at that restaurant in Ghirardelli Square-- but I was sharing the moment with the man I'm lucky to call "My husband".
A printable recipe card is at the bottom of this post.