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Authentic Hungarian Goulash Soup Recipe

Updated on June 3, 2013
Authentic Hungarian Goulash from Scratch
Authentic Hungarian Goulash from Scratch

Hungarian Goulash | Comfort Food at Its Best

There are few things more warming and comforting than a good goulash soup on a cold winters day. Hailing from Hungary where it gets rather cold in winter, it is one of the best dishes that I have learned how to make and has to rank as one of my all time favorite dishes. Its meaty, comforting, filling, and tastes divine. However be warned, it's not the quickest dish to make, as from start to finish it will take about 36 hours but it is totally worth it though, trust me!

As my Nan always used to say when giving me a hearty bowl of English food, "it'll put hairs on your chest". Her food didn't, but if anything will, it has to be this Hungarian Goulash!

Whilst the cooking time is long, for the majority of this you don't need to be in the kitchen stirring or doing stuff.

Buy leafy celery - You need to use the leaves for the goulash
Buy leafy celery - You need to use the leaves for the goulash

The best things come to those who wait....

Armed with a packet of beef stock cubes you could probably knock up a passable goulash in a few hours, not that I have tried. To make a truly stunning and sumptuous dish you need to take your time, and that means making a homemade beef stock and your own lard. Ask any Hungarian about goulash and they will probably talk for hours, and will probably tell you that can't make it without proper Hungarian ingredients.

Whilst it is much better if you have them, most people cannot get Hungarian red peppers and pink potatoes very easily so these can be substituted fro what you can get locally. What you really could do with though is authentic Hungarian paprika. Hungarians are quite fanatical about their paprika, and no true goulash can be made with anything but the real deal. I used to think that any stuff would do, but when I returned from Hungary with bags of the real stuff, my goulash improved no end. It does make a difference.

What is Goulash?

Goulash can be described as part soup and part stew, leaning more towards soup than a casserole. The main ingredients, aside from a high quality beef stock and the aforementioned lard are: beef, paprika, red peppers (capsicums), celery, carrots, onions & potatoes. It is best eaten with freshly baked bread for dipping in and wiping the bowl clean afterwards.

You can add extra root vegetable if you like, but not too much. Try it with a diced parsnip, add a green pepper to the red if you like, or add extra tomatoes if you like.

You really need to make your own stock, as this will make the dish divine, rather than just good.

Hungarian Paprika

Sun Drying Hungarian Paprika
Sun Drying Hungarian Paprika

Hungarian Paprika from

Homemade Beef Stock Recipe

First thing you need to do is to make your beef stock the day before. You cannot do this the same day as your goulash, even if you start really early. The stock needs to be left overnight in the fridge so that all the fat solidifies on top. This is your homemade lard, and it makes a big difference. If you decide to use stock cubes, try to get lard rather than oil, as it will really improve the taste of the final dish.

Time: 6 hours cooking, but around 30 mins of prep


  • 5lbs / 2.5 Kg Beef marrow bones - Meaty bones are best
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped (Keep the leaves)
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 3 onions roughly chopped (Peel the onions, but keep the brown skin)
  • Parsley stalks
  • 2 leeks (just the green parts, chopped)
  • 6 mushrooms (cut them with a vegetable peeler into thin slices)
  • 2 x bay leaves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Cold water

Instructions for Making Homemade Beef Stock

To start with you need to roast your bones. Preheat the oven to 220ºC /425ºF, and put the marrow bones into a baking tray. It needs to be quite deep as they will release a lot of fat. Roast the bones for about an hour until they are nicely brown, and turn over a couple of times during cooking and spoon over the of fat that has been released. Take out of the oven and allow to cool a little.

Tip the oil from the bones into a large stock-pot, and gently cook the onions, carrots, leeks and chopped celery until light brown. Be careful not to burn them as it will ruin the flavor of the stock. When the onions and vegetables are golden, add the browned bones to the pan along with the skin from the onions, the celery leaves and the remaining ingredients, and cover with cold water. Add a little water to the bone pan to de-glaze, and add that to your stock pot.

Bring to the boil slowly and strain off any scum which rises to the top, and simmer for 6-8 hours with a loosely fitting lid. You may need to add more water during cooking to keep the bones covered, check every hour or so, more towards the end. For the final hour take off the lid and reduce slightly. You should be left with about 4 pints of stock.

Allow to cool a little, remove the bones and discard or give them to the dog, and then pour the stock through a sieve or colander and throw away all the solids. Allow to thoroughly cool, and then cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, the fat will have risen to the top and will be solidified. Remove this and keep in a bowl for when you cook the goulash. What's left over is fabulous for roasting potatoes with, and it should keep in the fridge for a week.

Ingredients for Hungarian Goulash

  • 2lb /1Kg chuck steak or stewing steak, ut into 1/2 inch -3/4 inch cubes
  • 8 Tbsp fat from the stock (or lard)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 4 Tbsp Hungarian paprika, Sweet, or half sweet / half hot
  • 4 pints Beef stock
  • 4 potatoes, medium sized, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 large red bell peppers, cut into chunks - the pointed ones best
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • large handful celery leaves, whole, to be removed before serving
  • large pinch salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 2 hours 30 min
Ready in: 3 hours
Yields: Serves 6
OK, So it doesn't look great whilst its cooking, but the finished dish is excellent!
OK, So it doesn't look great whilst its cooking, but the finished dish is excellent!

Instructions for Making Hungarian Goulash

  1. Add the solidified fat from your stock (or lard) to your stock-pan and melt. Add your chopped onions to the hot fat and cook gently until golden to light brown and remove from the heat.
  2. Add the garlic, caraway seeds, paprika, about a tsp of salt, a twist or two of black pepper, and your meat. Give it a good stir and brown the beef to seal in the juices. (about 3-4 mins)
  3. Add the chopped parsley, and a ladle of the stock to the pan and reduce the heat to barely a simmer. Gently cook until the beef is nice and tender. This will take about 90 minutes, or longer depending on the cut of beef and the size of your cubes. Stir from time to time, and check the meat every 20 mins or so to make sure that there is still liquid in the pan. Add a little more stock if necessary. You will probably need to add about a pint of the stock during this phase of cooking.
  4. When the meat is tender, add the potatoes, carrots, chopped tomatoes, and red peppers and the rest of your stock and give it a good stir.

The Finished Dish - Enjoy!

Authentic (and very tasty) Hungarian Goulash
Authentic (and very tasty) Hungarian Goulash

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    • michifus profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks Bill - that reminds me. Its cold outside, and its about time I made this again!.

    • Bill Yovino profile image

      Bill Yovino 

      6 years ago

      Sounds great! I love the details you provided about making the beef stock. I'm glad to have found this hub - there's a "Hungarian Goulash" recipe by another hubber that calls for ground beef, red kidney beans, and chili powder! I would call that "Chili", not goulash.

      Thanks for this well-written authentic recipe!

    • rjsadowski profile image


      7 years ago

      Sounds delicious but somewhat complicated.

    • bell du jour profile image

      bell du jour 

      7 years ago from Ireland

      Lovely recipe, and great hub voted up :-)

    • lee custodio profile image

      lee custodio 

      7 years ago

      yummy! sounds delicious and wonderfully written to boot! can't help but vote useful. thanks for sharing


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