Many years ago, dear hubby and I spent a winter vacation in Austria. We skiied (real mountains!) we sledded (dear Gods, 8 km down a steep mountain road together on a single flimsy sled! ) and we led the genteel life in Vienna (Coffee! Sacher Torte!). We still talk about that vacation many years later, partly because of the soup. Austrian Goulash Soup (gulaschsuppe) was available simply everywhere in Austria, and we had never even heard of it before! It was a revelation to discover and has become a family favorite. Is it goulash or gulasch? We don’t care about the spelling, but that soup is fabulous.
Among the treasures we brought back from that vacation were das Franz Ruhm Kochbuch and a half kilo of paprika. Both of these were in support of our new enthusiasm for gulasch, or goulash, which is a savory blend of onions and paprika with beef and sometimes potatoes, bound with a hint of tomato. As a soup, it’s a grand pick-me-up or restorative. As a stew, it can be plain or very fancy. It lends itself to variations: ‘student style’ is a dish with more gravy and less meat, because it’s thought that students can’t afford much. There’s a high-class version thick with meat and enriched with sour cream. ‘Carriage driver style’ is hearty and includes sausage, dumplings, and comes topped with a fried egg.
Our family favorite includes potatoes, and adds little sausages and pickles. In texture it’s a very thick soup, and we serve it with dark rye bread. I can’t think of a better dish for cold, grey, or damp weather. It’s grey and cold outside, and all I want right now is cozy warmth. The forecast for the coming week suggests I may want to wrap myself in all the fleece and wool that I can find. Of course, I made Austrian goulash soup. Let’s have warmth from the inside out!
Goulash Soup (Gulaschsuppe)
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 3 large onions, chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 Tbsp sweet (edelßüs) paprika
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 6 cups beef stock
- 1½ lbs lean beef, cut in small cubes
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ½ tsp caraway seed
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- 2-3 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
- small sausages or frankfurters (for garnish)
- chopped dill pickles (for garnish)
- Heat oil in a heavy Dutch oven, and sauté the onions until they begin to turn golden. Add the tomato paste and flour, and stir well. Remove from the heat, then add the paprika, stirring very well to combine.
- Add the vinegar, then return pot to the heat. Add stock. Bring to a boil, then add the meat, garlic, caraway, and marjoram.
- Reduce the heat, and simmer gently, covered, until the beef is tender. If you’re using raw potatoes, add them early on, so that they’ll cook through, but if you’re using cooked potatoes, wait until just before serving.
- At serving time: score sausages/hot dogs several times, and cook or heat until just cooked through. Put one sausage on top of each bowl. Scatter with chopped dill pickles and serve.