Gombaleves (Hungarian Mushroom Soup)

 

Paprika is a sweet and aromatic spice that is frequently associated with Hungarian cuisine. It forms the basis for many traditional Hungarian dishes, such as Goulash or Chicken Paprikash. Here, the star ingredient in a nutritious, rich yet light mushroom soup. 

NB: The more perceptive of you might have noticed that I accidentally curdled the cream in my soup! Ideally you don’t want to do this as it makes for a smoother finish, but it still tasted great anyway.

 

INGREDIENTS

Paprika is made from the red, larger and sweeter fruits of the Capsicum Annum plant, which are air dried and pulverised. The word comes from the Serbo-Croatian ‘papar’ (meaning ‘pepper’) and the -ika suffix is diminutive, meaning that the word ‘paprika’ roughly translates as ‘little pepper’. There are many varieties of the spice, ranging from mild and sweet to hot and spicy. Though red paprika originated in Mexico, it has become strongly associated with Hungarian cuisine. The plants were first used to decorate gardens during the Baroque period in Europe, and later became a significant part of European cuisine. The first record of paprika in Hungary dates back to an account book in 1748. The original paprika used by Hungarians was spicy, but nowadays they use the sweet variety in most dishes.

Good quality mushrooms are essential for the success of this soup. Cremini work well, this type of mushroom is a more mature version of the white button mushrooms that are commonly found in supermarkets, but they are also a younger version of the famous portobello mushroom. This has earned them the nickname ‘baby portobellos’. The deep and earthy flavour of Cremini creates a warm undertone, with sharper and lighter contrasts being provided by the fresh herbs, sour cream and lemon.

HISTORY

It was very difficult to find any information on the history or origins of this soup, so if anyone has any information that I could use to update the blog then please drop me a message!

I did find out that the Hungarian name for this soup is ‘Gombaleves’, which boringly translates as ‘mushroom soup’. It seems that traditionally this soup was made with a mixture of foraged mushrooms, so if you have access to a selection of wild mushrooms then do consider using those as the base ingredient for this dish. Then you would be able to call it ‘Vadgombaleves’ (‘wild mushroom soup’)!

 

WHAT YOU NEED

Where possible, try to buy local, seasonal and grass fed/ organic/free range ingredients. Apart from it being better to support local businesses and high welfare farming practises, it does make a huge difference to the taste of your food! 

large chunk of butter

1 large onion, diced

500g cremini mushrooms

large splash of white wine

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon paprika

750ml vegetable stock, chicken stock or bone broth

2 tablespoons sour cream

 one whole lemon, juiced

a handful of chopped dill

two pinches of chopped parsley

salt and pepper, to taste

 

Prep Time: 20 min

Cooking Time: 20 min

Serves: 4 people

 

METHOD

  1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the onions, salt and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are cooked down and become dry, they will release their liquid and it takes about 10-15 minutes to evaporate. Turn the heat down if they start to burn.
  2. Add the wine and cook it off.
  3. Mix in the flour and paprika and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the stock, bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. There should be a thin layer of paprika oil on top of the broth that has released from the soup.
  5. Remove from heat. Let it cool for a second, and squash a lemon with your hand onto a work surface to release its juices, cut the top off and squeeze into the soup. Stir in the sour cream, if the mixture is too hot it will start to curdle so make sure it’s cool enough to mix properly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over hand torn dill and parsley leaves.

 

ADAPTATIONS

LF – use a lactose free cream and butter instead of the regular butter and sour cream

GF – use gluten free bread or eat by itself

V – substitute chicken stock for veg stock

Ve – substitute butter for olive oil and chicken stock for veg stock, use a cream alternative

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