A Magyar flavor in the family

Hungarian potato and sweet potato soup

On a dreary grey January day like this it was fun to simmer up some hearty Eastern European soup.

I checked out the immense Passionate Vegetarian from the library last weekend and this Hungarian potato and sweet potato soup is the first recipe we’ve tried from the book. I chose it just because it sounded good, and different than some of our usual standbys.

And it was good, but wow, did Brian love it, scarfing down two bowls to my half bowl. I observed how much he seemed to like it and was intrigued by his answer: “Must be my roots.”

And you know what? Maybe it is. Brian is only one generation (his mom) removed from Czechoslovakia — his grandfather moved here from the (now Slovakian) village of Bytča in the 1920s. His Hungarian father before him introduced Magyar blood into the stream. Could a love of infusions of paprika and dill, potato and onions, have come stamped in Brian’s DNA? We don’t often cook with these flavor combinations, but judging from Brian’s enthusiastic appreciation of the spices perfuming the steamy kitchen and his return for seconds, I think I’ll look for some more recipes that will return him to his “roots.”

Brian's cousin shows him family photos(Find out more about our hunt for those roots — we travelled to Bytča in 2004).

And here’s the recipe. (note, I discovered too late we were out of milk so I used 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream)

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From Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon

Hungarian potato and sweet potato soup

7 cups vegetable stock
3 fist-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large leek, roots removed, split, well washed, and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 cup low-fat milk
1 tablespoon dried dillweed
1/4 teaspoon tamari or shoyu soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
2 to 3 ounces Neufchatel reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into small pieces
minced fresh parsley or dill

Bring 6 cups of the stock to a boil in a large soup pot. Drop the potatoes and sweet potatoes in and reduce the heat to a medium simmer. Half-cover and let the potatoes cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a skillet. Add the leek and toss, stir-frying until it is limp and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the paprika and stri-fry for another 1 to 2 minutes, stirring. Add the remaining 1 cup of stock and stir to deglaze.

Add this mixture to the simmering potatoes and stock. Add the milk, dill, tamari, pepper, and salt. (Since it takes a while for the full dill flavor to emerge, if you are serving the soup right away, you might want to add more dill; if it will sit for an hour or be reheated the next day, this amount is adequate.)

Lower the heat under the soup and add the pieces of cheese. Stir vigorously until the cheese melts into the soup. Adjust seasonings to taste. Garnish with parsley or dill and serve hot.


3 responses to “A Magyar flavor in the family

  1. Oh that does sound yummy! I just love a good hearty soup. And I really enjoyed the food on my one visit to Budapest…I`ll have to make this for my mom one day soon and we can eat it while we reminisce over our photo albums! Thanks for the inspiration and recipe!!

  2. I tried it and liked it except for the texture the sweet potatoes gave it. Leave them out next time and I think I would really enjoy it.

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