Monday, April 8, 2013

Hungarian Onion Soup

This soup has been known in my family as " 'Bray'-zlee' Soup."  Unfortunately, my mother, uncle, brother and I were not taught Hungarian.   With the elder generations of our heritage gone, I do not know the proper spelling of this soup.  All I know is that it's a delicious peppery, creamy soup loved by my family for generations.

What makes this soup so distinctive are the grated noodles.

The delightful little nuggets boast a slightly chewy texture and they do a wonderful job of absorbing the soup's flavors.  Grandma and Great Grandma would make a large ball of egg pasta dough and, instead of taking the extra steps to roll and cut it, they simply took the ball to the box grater and produced tiny-sized dumplings or spaetzels.  This must have been a time-saver back in the day before ready-made pasta and import stores.  Today, it's considered extra work.  Thank goodness for import stores and online ordering.  However, it's a goal of mine to someday make the noodles on my own.

Locally, Clevelanders can find these at the import store in the corner of the West Side Market.

If the grated noodles aren't available, try the small squares or the Csiga (Chee'-gah) noodles, which are also distinctively Hungarian.

Someday soon I plan on writing a separate post on Ciga noodles, showcasing my great-grandmother's Ciga maker, and possibly making my own.

If you are a seasoned pro at making your own egg pasta dough, the extra steps shouldn't be too difficult.

This soup had been done with plain water with my grandparents and great grandparents.  They were defined by the peasant recipes of their old country as well as the Depression.  Plus, this was a family tradition on meatless Lenten Fridays.

While it was always good, Mom has updated the recipe to give it a bit more flavor and depth.

I'll never forget the time Mom came over to our new house to help me make my first version of the soup.  She and I have both discovered that my husband loves almost any kind of soup.  This is now one of his favorites.

There is great pleasure in sharing something from your family history and having it accepted by the one you love.   It's as if in one bite you have the opportunity to share an entire childhood book of memories.
I have felt this in my husband's family as well when they share their favorites.

This is a simple soup with few ingredients.  Paprika is the key, and, you need to add a lot to give it the distinctive flavor; therefore, sweet Hungarian paprika is recommended, so you can add a lot without it getting too hot and spicy.  When I made this with my husband's 98 year old grandmother, she swore that in all of her years, she has never seen so much paprika go into one recipe.  Do yourself a favor and invest in some GOOD and FRESH paprika.  Our favorite paprikas are from Penzey's.  I remember Mom and Grandma filling out their mail-order catalog forms in the 80s and calling in the orders during the 90s.

Listen to some Hungarian music to put you in the mood!


This is the recipe that my Mom and I created

Makes 2-4 servings

5 min prep
30 minutes cook time

1/4 stick butter
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced onions
1 small clove minced garlic
3 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika (4 tablespoons if you're daring)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup sour cream
1/2 bag (4.4 oz) of small Hungarian egg noodles, preferably grated  (If none can be found, orzo pasta can be used)

Cook the diced onions and garlic in the butter and oil on medium heat until translucent and tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Don't cook at a higher temp to save time.  You don't want the onions to overcook, plus you don't want to cook away the fats as they will add flavor and body to the soup.

Add the paprika, stir.

Add the broth, stir, bring to a boil.

Turn down to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Temper the sour cream.  You need to do this carefully with small doses of the hot soup into the cool sour cream, or else it will curdle.

Place the sour cream in a large mixing bowl and slowly pour one large spoonful or small ladle of soup into the sour cream.  Stir until blended.  Repeat several times (4-5) until you get a thick liquid.

Pour back into the pot and turn on high to boil.  Add half a bag of noodles.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Cover, turn down to low and simmer for 7-10 minutes, until the noodles are tender but slightly chewy.

These little nugget noodles will soak up a lot of broth.  Serve immediately as it will thicken while it cools.


  1. Looks delicious. I'm great fan of French onion soup, so will give this a go... or at least ask the missus to. ;-)

  2. Thanks! Let us know how it turns out!