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Hungarian Cuisine: Fisherman's Soup

Updated on January 31, 2011

Another dish that originates from Hungarian cuisine, but is also well-known among the peoples of the Balkan-peninsula is fisherman's soup or halászlé. It requires simple preparation and is best cooked on open wood fire to soak up smoke flavour. It's a paprika-based river fish soup, best served hot and spicy. The original fisherman's soup is prepared with fish from the rivers Danube and Tisza.

Fisherman's Soup Tips

You need big fish to make a good fisherman's soup. There is nothing in this simple soup that is not available in any part of the year. You don't need green pepper or tomato as these are seasonal and obviously the fishermen who made the first halászlé didn't carry them around in their bags, so these are not part of the original recipe. Hungarian cuisine is not known for using magic tricks or fancy ingredients to produce delicious meals. The dishes were usually invented by peasants and they used whatever they had available at the time.

A plate of Fisherman's Soup (halaszle) with carp.
A plate of Fisherman's Soup (halaszle) with carp.

serves 4, takes 40 minutes

  • 1kg freshwater fish,
  • 1 big onion chopped,
  • 1 liter water,
  • 1,5 tsp Hungarian paprika,
  • 1 small Hungarian hot pepper or chili,
  • salt.

Scale chop up, clean and salt the fish, but don't wash the blood off. Place the chops in a cauldron with their meat upside down and leave them there for about 1 hour. Add the onion and pour in 1 liter cold water. Boil over strong heat. After starting to boil, add  1 tsp Hungarian paprika and one hot Hungarian chili pepper, then cook for 25 minutes. Don't stir or cover with a lid. About 5 to 10 minutes before it's finished add another teaspoon of paprika and salt as needed. Serve hot.

Have you ever tasted Fisherman's soup?

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There are many variations of fisherman's soup depending on in which region it is cooked, with Szeged fisherman's soup being probably the most famous among tourists and locals. It uses 600 g carp, 550g catfish, 350g sturgeon and 350g pike and is cooked at the yearly Fisherman's soup festival in the city of Szeged.

Fisherman's soupfest in Szeged.
Fisherman's soupfest in Szeged.


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    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      You are welcome to join us this summer. :)

    • profile image

      gabriella 6 years ago

      I want ot attend one of this Festivals so badddddd!