Gulyas Leves (Gulyas Soup)


Although the name of this famous dish translates to Goulash Soup, it is really a hearty stew. It can be made with either beef or veal or a combination. What distinguises it from the other goulash dishes is a hint of caraway flavor–more depending on your taste.
Ingredients:4-5 large onions, chopped fine.
If using food processor, be sure not to over-chop or you will end up with onion mush.
Bacon fat or oil
2  pounds of cubed beef or veal  Beef or veal shanks are also great for this dish. If using them, leave intact, do not cube. Since these take longer to cook than the cubed meat, I will put them in the broth first for at least a half hour to an hour before the cubed meat. 

3-4 carrots,  one inch slices

2 Tablespoons ketchup

Several tsps. paprika – until you get a beautiful red color

Vegeta (this is a salty seasoning you can omit and use salt to taste instead)

1 small stalk celery, chopped

1 tsp Caraway seed (place in a cheesecloth and tie so it can be removed or grind very fine. I use the coffee grinder).


1 bell pepper, seeded, cored, sliced

Pinch of hot paprika or the kind in the tubes.

Nokedli (Hungarian dumplings) are optional


4 medium potatoes, cubed (they can be cooked right in the Guylas Leves, however, they tend to absorb all the good broth; I cook them last in the broth).


Saute the onions in the fat or oil, stirring frequently. This should take at least 20-30 minutes. . Do not skimp on the time.  This is what makes the final broth delicious.  Otherwise, you just have a bunch of onions floating in the water.

The onions should become very translucent and limp. Do not let them brown. Add a small amount of water occasionally to prevent sticking to the pan. Salt the onions lightly to help tenderize them. When the onions are ready, add the meat and turn the heat on high to sear. Stir the meat and onions constantly for about 3 minutes.

Add enough water to cover meat completely and reduce heat.


Add chopped carrot



1 teaspoon vegeta (optional, but it seems everyone in Hungary uses this and they find it bland without).


Bell pepper

Cover and simmer until meat is tender. This varies with the meat. It will need additional salt to taste, the amount depends on the use of Vegeta, which is very salty. Remove caraway seeds if you used them whole. Check seasoning. Add a pinch of hot paprika if desired.

To serve:

Place some nokedli in a soup bowl and ladle the gulyas leves over them, making sure the serving has adequate meat, vegetables,  and broth.




These little dumplings are delicious, but they are a lot of work.  Don’t worry if you skip this.  It is just a variation that is nice, but not necessary.



These are easier to make if you have a noodle cutter, a gadget that looks something like a cheese grater. There are various shapes and sizes of these. I have seen them on the web at Hungarian specialty stores and they are not cheap. However, I bought one called a Chinese noodle maker at Cost Plus for a couple dollars a few years ago. It works great. If you don’t have one, a paring knife and small cutting board works just as well.

1 egg plus 2 egg yolks

2 cups flour (Wondra flour is much easier to blend with eggs)

1 tsp salt


Combine flour and eggs in a mixing bowl (or use your heavy duty mixer with dough hook–it works great and is truly worth the effort). Add enough water to make the mixture into a dough. Beat until smooth, using a stroke that beats through the middle of the mixture against the side of the bowl. When the dough is completely smooth, (this takes awhile), it leaves the sides of the bowl clean as you beat and sort of makes airy noises. Place the dough into the noodle gadget over the boiling water and using the slide or the knife, quickly extrude the dumplings into the pot. If you don’t have the gadget, place the dough on a cutting board over the boiling water and using a small sharp paring knife, cut the dough into pieces about the size of an almond and quickly push each piece off the cutting board into the pot. When the dough is completely used up, stir the dumplings to keep them from sticking together. Continue to boil until they all rise to the top. Drain. Mix with a little oil to keep them from sticking together until serving. Salt to taste.