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(Hungarian fish soup)

This superb bright-red soup is made with freshwater fish--reflective of landlocked Hungary, which is blessed with Lake Balaton and many rivers. And it's traditionally cooked in a narrow-bottomed black kettle hung on a tripod over an open fire. The soul of it is big chunks of fresh fish in a savory broth absolutely larded with paprika. Serve hot to 6-8 people as a meal, with white bread, pickled salads, and a fine Hungarian wine.

  • 12 cups fish stock (ideally made with the remains of the fish fillets and sliced onions)
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 3 pounds freshwater fish fillets (perch, catfish, carp, etc.), cut in bite-sized chunks and seasoned with salt (reserve milt and roe, if available)
  • 3 Hungarian peppers, chopped (green/yellow--the pointy ones are hot, the blunt ones are mild--mix them as you please; if you can't find Hungarian, use a green bell pepper and jalapenos)
  • 1 tomato, skinned and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnish: sliced green bell pepper, with sliced hot peppers served on the side

Bring the stock to a boil and stir in the paprika. Let simmer for a minute. Add pieces of fish, their roe and milt (if available), the chopped tomato and peppers, and cook over fairly high heat for about 20 minutes. Don't stir the soup or you will break up the fish--just tilt the pan from side to side to keep the fish from sticking.

When ready to serve, season to taste, garnish with sliced green peppers, and bring the pot to the table for ladling.