Hungarian Gulyás (Goulash)

Hungarian Goulash

Oh baby, it’s cold outside!

2016 is off to a very chilly start in southern Germany – the perfect excuse to snuggle up in front of the fireplace, to wear cozy slippers all weekend long AND to dig deep in my recipe box for new and delicious soups and stews. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for traditional Hungarian gulyás since the beginning of the month, when my husband and I shared fond memories of a brilliant culinary holiday in Budapest for New Year’s Day 2012. The experience had been a first for both of us – his first goulash ever, and my first that wasn’t made with the loving hands of my adorable Polish grandmother. My husband polished off three bowls in one sitting on our first night in Pest, then continued to enjoy it everywhere we went in Hungary’s capital for the rest of our holiday. I hadn’t made it since, but this past weekend – snowy and well below freezing – seemed like the perfect opportunity to walk down a delectable memory lane.

Gulyás (goulash) – a soup or stew made of meat or vegetables, seasoned with paprika and a variety of other spices – is the type of recipe that exists on a very wide taste spectrum. In other words, I’ve never run across a goulash that contains the exact same ingredients in the exact same quantity as another. While sweet, high quality Hungarian paprika is essential, and other additions – onion, garlic, caraway seeds, and bell peppers – are fairly standard, the contents can otherwise be tailored to an individual palate. I tossed in some of my husband’s favorites – tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, beef cheeks and red bell peppers – but encourage you to use the flavors and textures you enjoy. Serve with csipetke (small, pinched egg noodles, also known as spätzle in Germany) or a thick, crusty loaf of bread on your next chilly winter’s day – you won’t regret it!

 

HUNGARIAN GULYAS (GOULASH)

Yields | 4 to 6 servings

Inspiration | The Daring Gourmet

  • 3 tbsp pork lard
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup high quality, sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1½ pounds beef (see note), cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and membranes removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and membranes removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 2 fresh carrots, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 5 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve (optional)

 

  1. Melt the lard in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and cook until slightly browned, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the paprika. Add the beef and garlic, return to the heat, and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink.
  2. Add the bell peppers and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, beef broth, bay leaf, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 40 minutes (see note). Add salt to taste.
  3. Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped flat-leaf parsley, if desired. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, csipetke or thick, crusty bread.

Note: If you’re using a tougher cut of beef, cook the beef first, without the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers, for 30-45 minutes, then add the vegetables and cook for another 40 minutes, until the beef is tender.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup FINAL.jpg

HAPPY NEW YEAR, lovely blog readers!!

We’re kicking off 2016 with chilly temps, gray skies and lots of rain showers here in southern Germany – as a native of the Pacific Northwest, this is just my kind of weather! For my cranky, sun-loving hubby, however, this is a less-than-desirable time of year. And like any good (read: wise and patient) wife confronted with her husband’s grumbling, I nod sympathetically, murmur words of understanding and encouragement, and placate. With soup.

When he requested this Broccoli Cheddar Soup last week, it took me all of 30 minutes to get dressed, throw on some makeup, and drive to the local grocery store for ingredients. Not only because I’ll do anything to turn his frown upside down, but because this soup is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Like better than Panera-style amazing (see Averie Cooks for the original recipe). It’s creamy, rich, and cheesy cheesy CHEESY. The secret to this soup is in fact super high quality, extra sharp Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese. While pre-shredded, bagged cheese has its place in the world, that place is not in this soup; the better the cheese, the better the flavor!

 

BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP

Yields | 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 tbsp + 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, minced
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and minced finely
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups half-and-half (regular or fat-free)
  • 2 to 3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces
  • 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and finely grated
  • 3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (optional), and to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder (optional), and to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional), and to taste
  • 8 ounces grated high quality extra-sharp Cheddar or Red Leicester cheese, plus extra to serve

 

  1. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add minced onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and turning lightly golden, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven or soup pot, add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes (until flour is fully incorporated and thickened), whisking constantly.
  4. Slowly add the vegetable stock and half-and-half, whisking constantly. Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms (this is normal).
  5. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside. Add the salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne. Stir to combine.
  6. Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  7. After simmering for 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute. Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately.

[Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave.]

Zuppa Toscana

Zuppa Toscana

 

While most people lament the arrival of cooler temps in the waning days of summer and early days of fall, I couldn’t WAIT to unearth and dust off my collection of soup recipes this week. After three wonderful – but very hot – years in southern California, Germany’s crisp mornings, drippy afternoons, and windy evenings are utter perfection in my book. Soup weather, how I’ve missed thee!

I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for Zuppa Toscana F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Oh my goodness – it did not disappoint! This is quite simply one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten. The combination of spicy Italian sausage, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes and slightly crisp kale is heavenly. And the broth – oh, the broth! Perfection! My husband and I intended to eat this as leftovers over the course of a few days, but alas, it did not see a second day. Yep, we ate all 12 servings. Two people. In one day. We’re still sad it’s gone, and speak of it fondly. It is that good.

Enjoy, and you’re welcome!

 

ZUPPA TOSCANA

Yields | 12 servings

Inspiration | Olive Garden & Food.com

  • 1 lb ground mild or hot Italian sausage
  • 4-6 Russett potatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 slices raw bacon, snipped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 8 cups water
  • 7 tsp Better than Bouillon chicken base
  • 1 bunch fresh kale, stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional), to serve
  1. In a large pot on medium-high heat add the ground sausage and crushed red pepper flakes. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage until it is browned and fully cooked through. Pour the cooked sausage into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In the same pot add the olive oil, chopped onion, and bacon until the onions become translucent and begin to brown (about 10 minutes). Add garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Add wine to the pot and stir well to de-glaze. Combine water and Better than Bouillon chicken base, mix well, and add to the pot.
  4. Add potatoes and cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes. (Note: You may wish to add more salt, but be careful – the chicken base is very salty. Taste for saltiness after each addition.)
  5. After the potatoes are done, add the cooked sausage back into the soup. Using a large spoon, skim off most of the fat from the sausage that floats onto the surface.
  6. Add the fresh kale and stir in to allow the leaves to soften slightly. Reduce the heat to low and add the heavy cream. Stir.
  7. Add freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
  8. Garnish each serving with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream1

Caprese Soup with Sourdough Grilled Cheese

Caprese Soup

Temperatures have FINALLY dipped below 50 degrees in Southern California, which can only mean it’s – da da da daaaah – SOUP WEATHER!

What to say about this recipe? It’s caprese. In a soup. And it’s A-M-A-Z-I-N-G with a buttery grilled cheese sandwich. Definitely a recipe for the ‘make this again!’ folder – enjoy!

CAPRESE SOUP WITH SOURDOUGH GRILLED CHEESE

Yields: 2 servings

  • 2 1/2 lbs fresh mixed tomatoes
  • 1 large garlic bulb, cut in half width-wise
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 50 grams fresh basil leaves + extra to serve
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 (125 gram) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • Butter
  • Cheddar (or other preferred sandwich) cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Place the tomatoes and garlic on a large roasting tray, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, or until tomatoes have burst and garlic is soft. Remove tray from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Squeeze the roasted garlic from its skin and place in a blender with the roasted tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, sugar, 50 grams of basil, vinegar and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Blitz until smooth, then run through a sieve (if desired, to remove tomato seeds).
  3. Spread butter on both sides of bread slices. Place one slice on a preheated griddle or grill pan, cover with cheese slices and grill until bread is of desired texture and consistency. Top with second bread slice, flip sandwich, and grill as desired. Repeat with remaining bread slices and cheese.
  4. Transfer soup to serving bowls and top with shredded buffalo mozzarella and remaining basil. Serve heated through with grilled sandwiches.

*Previously published to my old blog, Cucina Fresca*

Pumpkin Orange Soup

Pumpkin Orange Soup

This recipe for Pumpkin Orange Soup – courtesy of the Autumn 2012 issue of Woman & Home: Feel Good Food – is a new culinary hit in our household. While I had my doubts about the combination of pumpkin, sweet potatoes and orange in a savory vegetable broth, I was pleasantly surprised with the unique seasonal flavor of this soup. It’s easy, it’s vegan, and best of all, it’s PUMPKIN!! Enjoy!

PUMPKIN ORANGE SOUP

Serves: 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled + chopped
  • 18 ounces fresh pumpkin, peeled, seeded + chopped
  • 14 ounces fresh sweet potatoes, peeled + chopped
  • Zest and juice of 2 fresh oranges
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled + sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 850 ml hot vegetable stock
  • 2 ounces pumpkin seeds
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Cream, to serve (optional)
  • 4 sprigs fresh coriander, to garnish (optional)
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes, until softened.
  2. Add the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, orange zest and juice, garlic, ground coriander and stock. Season to taste. Bring to a boil, lower temperature and simmer for 25 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and liquidize the soup with a hand-held blender until smooth.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan. Add the pumpkin seeds and a pinch of sea salt. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan, until seeds begin to pop and turn brown. Remove to a plate to cool slightly.
  5. Serve the soup in warmed bowls, sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, cream, and a sprig of fresh coriander, if desired.

Re-post from my old blog, Cucina Fresca

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

It’s cold and flu season in many parts of the country (including here, despite being 90 flipping degrees outside – in NOVEMBER), so I thought I’d share one of my favorite recipes (a Tyler Florence classic!) for Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. Preparing a pot of this soup is a great lazy weekend activity that – depending on the amount of time and energy you’d like to commit – can be made considerably easier with the substitution of store-bought chicken stock. I love the ability to control the level of sodium in the stock – not to mention the incredible flavor of the homemade version – so go for it if you can!

HOMEMADE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

Yields: 2 quarts

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken stock (recipe follows)
  • 8 ounces uncooked egg noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Chicken stock:

  • 1 whole chicken (approximately 3 to 3/12 pounds), giblets discarded
  • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

To make soup:

  1. Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.
  2. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes, or until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
To make chicken stock:
  1. Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak.
  2. Add the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water, if necessary, to keep the chicken covered while simmering.
  3. Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.
  4. Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.