The Goulash Experiment

“Tessék” (pronounced “dah-shake” and meaning “can I help you” or “pardon”) was a word I grew accustomed to hearing during our journey through Budapest’s Central Market. I was on a mission to buy the ingredients to attempt a lighter version of the traditional goulash soup Hungary is known for. Forint (the local currency) in hand, I got everything I needed including the key to virtually all traditional Hungarian dishes – paprika! I couldn’t wait to use the real stuff and had a bit of nostalgia while cooking and taking in the smell of the dried ground peppers mixed with onions and fresh peppers. I grew up eating Hungarian food but my Mom always cooked lighter versions of everything by using leaner cuts of meat and olive oil over the traditional pork lard. In this recipe, I swapped beef for chicken and in an effort to achieve some of that luscious pork flavor, I tried something different and used pork bouillon. The result was a very flavorful broth and a hearty dinner that fed us a few times over. More importantly, it was Jesse-approved! Mama – you would be proud!

Chicken Goulash Soup:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs – 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 carrots – 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 parsnips – 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 2 garlic minced cloves
  • 6-8 Hungarian peppers – 1/2 inch pieces (bell peppers also do the trick)
  • 3 medium red potatoes – 1/2 inch pieces – skin on
  • 6 medium tomatoes chopped – no need to peel unless that’s your preference
  • 3 tbs. EVOO
  • S&P
  • 3 pork bouillon cubes
  • 4 cups of water + extra if needed
  • 1/2 cup of Hungarian sweet paprika (use some spicy paprika if that’s your jam)
  • Sour Cream – this is a MUST (I bought light but the regular is fine because you don’t use much)

Step 1: prep the produce and set a side in separate piles – keep the potatoes completely covered in cold water

Srep 2: prep the chicken – you might need to do some extra trimming here like I did

Step 3: dissolve the bouillon cubes in a bowl with hot water and set aside – 1 cup should suffice

Step 4: heat the EVOO in a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat

Step 5: add onions and sauté until they just start to turn light brown, about 10 minutes

Step 6: add peppers, garlic, paprika and continue to cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate the caramelized bits for about 5 minutes

Step 7: add chicken and continue to stir constantly until cooked through – about 5-7 minutes

Step 8: add tomatoes, dissolved bouillon, 2 cups of water and simmer on low for about 20-30 minutes, partially covered

Step 9: taste the broth and season with S&P (depending on how salty your bouillon is, you will need to adjust the water content accordingly – the bouillon I used is less salty that what I’m used to at home so I didn’t need to add more)

Step 10: after you adjust the seasoning, add the carrots, parsnips & potatoes and continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are al dente

Step 11: serve HOT with a dollop or two of sour cream and enjoy!

*Disclaimer – traditional Hungarian goulash is served with small, pinched noodles called csipetke which I omitted to save time and carbs but add your favorite small pasta for texture and chew. If I had to pick one it would definitely be ditalini! (tip: cook the pasta separately and add your preferred amount to each bowl when serving to keep the pasta al dente)

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  1. September 5, 2016 at 8:26 pm — Reply

    […] The most fitting word to describe the Central Market would be options! Each stall has produce, meat, cheese, spices, etc. so at first it felt a little overwhelming trying to figure out which ones to buy from. Fortunately, we chose the stalls that were away from the center of the market and more tucked away around the perimeter. This was an insider tip we learned after doing some research beforehand, which proved to be very helpful. It seemed like we were only amongst locals while scooping up the ingredients for The Goulash Experiment. […]

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The Goulash Experiment

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