Hungarian Goulash Soup (Gulyas Leves)

Hungarian goulash in a bowl on table next to spoon and red towel


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Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 8 servings

This recipe for Hungarian goulash soup or gulyas leves (GOO-yahsh LEH-vesh) is hearty enough to be eaten as a main course with rye bread.

This soup benefits from a long, slow cook and is actually a goulash, which is a stew, to which more liquid has been added. Traditional gulyas leves is made with beef or veal.


  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat, or vegetable oil

  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast, fat removed and cubed

  • 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika

  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds

  • 2 parsley roots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds

  • 1 small bunch parsley, tied with butcher's twine

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, optional

  • 1 teaspoon Vegeta seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional

  • 2 Hungarian wax peppers, or banana wax peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 pinch hot Hungarian paprika

  • Salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onions in the bacon fat or vegetable oil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until translucent. This will take 10 to 15 minutes. Do not let the onions brown. Salt the onions lightly to help tenderize them. Add a small amount of water, if necessary, to keep them from sticking to the pan.

  2. Turn the heat to high and add the meat cubes and stir constantly for about 3 minutes or until the meat has been seared on all sides.

  3. Add water to cover by an inch and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the meat is almost tender, adding water as necessary to keep it above the level of the meat. This can take up to 2 hours.

  4. Add the sweet paprika, carrots, parsley roots, bunch of parsley, optional potatoes, Vegeta, optional caraway seeds, banana wax peppers, and hot paprika.

  5. Bring back to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender but not falling apart. Add additional water, if necessary, to keep a soup consistency. Add salt to taste.

  6. Serve over Hungarian csipetke or nokedli dumplings. You also might enjoy serving this filling soup with rye bread or potato bread.