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11/04/2015

~ Gizella's Hungarian Potato Soup (Krumpli Leves) ~

IMG_7166I'm no J. Edgar Hoover, but, in my office, there is a well-organized file drawer in my credenza containing nothing but recipes that I've collected from foodies I've encountered over the years -- if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.  Because I know or knew each foodie personally, I know these recipes are kitchen-tested and tasty.  One such file, marked "Gizella" is a 1"-thick compendium of her recipes, many of which are from her country of birth: Hungary.  Lucky for me, for a few short years, on occasion, I got to eat Gizella's food, and, it was amazing to say the least.  The file was given to me shortly after Gizella's death, by her daughter, and, every now and then, I share one or two of her recipes here on Kitchen Encounters.

IMG_7041'Tis the season for rustic, peasant soups and stews -- especially if you live here in the Northeastern USA. Monday, I posted ~ Mrs. Varga's Evolving Paprikas Recipe ~, which is a flavorful stew served with or over dumplings or egg noodles.  If you've never tasted Hungarian fare, this is a good place to start.  Today I chose her Hungarian potato soup. It's incredibly easy, and, it's meatless too (although Gizella notes that Hungarian sausage or kielbasa are commonly added to it -- I don't think it needs either one.)

This soup is the easiest, tastiest soup you might ever make!

IMG_7096This potato soup is a "lean soup" meaning, it was a common staple in post-war Budapest.  It was served as a "filler-upper" a few times a week in most Hungarian kitchens.  It is simple and straightforward, making an efficient use of the few "bare bones" and/or fresh vegetables commonly available to cold-climate Eastern European kitchens (carrots, celery, onion and potatoes).  Even though Gizella's recipe is brimming with vegetables, this is still a brothy soup, meaning:  even with the starch from the potatoes, along with the addition of the designated amount of flour and the addition of some sour cream, this hearty, filling soup is not thick and it is not supposed to be thick -- take no creative license on this front.

For inquiring minds who want to know:  Krumpli Leves vs. Burgonya Leves

Because I like to learn as I go, I looked up the word for "potato" in Hungarian -- it is "burgonya".  I found it odd that the soup is not called "burgonya leves" (with "leves" being the Hungarian word for soup).  I reached out to my friend Mike, who lived in Hungary for a few years in his recent past.  Mike explained that there are two Hungarian words for potato.  Typically "krumpli" refers to baked potato dishes or baked dishes containing potatoes. On the other hand, boiled and mashed potatoes are referred to as "burgonya" and he'd use "burgonya leves" as the name for this soup.  I agree 100% on this point, and, if this were my original recipe, I'd change it!

IMG_70644  tablespoons salted butter

1  cup diced onion

1  cup diced celery

2 cups diced carrots

1 teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon cracked black pepper

2  tablespoons all-purpose flour

1  tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika

IMG_70674  cups hot beef, chicken or vegetable stock (Note:  I take the easy way out and just heat it in the microwave until steaming.)

2  tablespoons dried parsley flakes

4  cups peeled and 1/2"-3/4" cubed potatoes (Note:  I use gold potatoes, Gizella used red.)

1/2  cup sour cream

1/4  cup minced fresh parsley, for garnishing soup

IMG_7072 IMG_7075 IMG_7078~ Step 1.  Over low heat, melt the butter in the bottom of a wide-bottomed, 4-quart stockpot.  Add the onion, celery and carrots and season with the salt and pepper.  Increase heat to medium-high and saute until the onion is soft and the carrots are beginning to soften, about 6-8 minutes.

IMG_7081 IMG_7084 IMG_7085~  Step 2.  Lower heat to low and stir in flour and paprika. Stir constantly for about 30 seconds until the mixture thickens.  

IMG_7092~ Step 3.  Add the hot broth and the parsley flakes.  Increase heat to a gentle, steady simmer, then add the potatoes.  When the liquid returns to a simmer, continue to cook until potatoes are tender, 6-8 minutes.

IMG_7133~ Step 4. Turn the heat off and stir in the sour cream.  

Remove from heat, cover  pot and allow the soup to steep for 15-20 minutes prior to serving hot.

Think you're looking at an ordinary bowl of potato soup?

IMG_7172You're busted -- this is an extraordinary bowl of potato soup! 

IMG_7191Gizella's Hungarian Potato Soup (Krumpli Leves):  Recipe yields 3 quarts.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 4-quart wide-bottomed stockpot w/lid

IMG_2923Cook's Note:  If I could or would add anything to this soup, it would be cabbage.  We Eastern Europeans love cabbage.  For one of my favorite side-dishes, click into Categories 4, 12, 19 or 20 to get my recipe for  ~ My Grandma's Butter-Braised Cabbage & Carrots ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)

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