When you think of cold soup, your mind immediately goes to gazpacho, a Spanish soup comprised of stale bread, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, tomato, and cucumber. But fans of Batman Returns will think of another kind: vichyssoise.
In the famous scene with Bruce and Alfred, the butler hands Bruce the bowl of creamy soup to which he spits it out—”it’s cold!” And the immortal line:
It’s vichyssoise, sir. It’s supposed to be cold.
I didn’t understand the concept of cold soup as a kid and I still wouldn’t try it but the backstory of vichyssoise gives an indication of why it’s a thing.
Vichyssoise is a potato and leek soup created in 1917 by French chef Louis Diat of the Ritz-Carlton. He made it cold for restaurant guests to keep cool during the summer (which is ironic as the winter of 1917 in New York produced the temperature recorded in the city: 2°F or −17°C on 30 December 1917 at Central Park).
Given the fact that Batman Returns has a 1920s/1930s vibe to it and Bruce is a billionaire who you wouldn’t expect to get a drive-thru burger (which is funny because Michael Keaton later played former McDonald’s owner Ray Kroc in The Founder), vichyssoise seems like a logical choice.
Our article on Hungarian chess master Paul Charles Dozsa has been quite popular (although we now know the man from the meme was actually Cecil George Edwards). But regardless, it got me thinking—what are the best dishes in Hungarian cuisine?
In this list, I’ll be looking at 5 recipes and dishes from Hungary.
1. Goulash (gulyás)
Let’s get goulash out of the way. In the realms of Hungarian cuisine, this dish is the one everyone thinks of. The name originates from gulyás, a word for “herdsmen”. It still means that but it also takes the meaning of the actual stew. There’s also gulyásleves which is a thinner soup than goulash.
Most modern recipes include tomatoes but they were nowhere to be seen in the original recipes. Meats in goulash recipes include lamb, pork, beef, and veal and a wide variety of vegetables such as onions, garlic, carrots and peppers. To quote my friend, Tom: “Goulash in a bread basket is also beautiful.”
Fun fact: Jonathan Harker ate chicken paprikash while he travelled to Dracula’s castle in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. (And in case you didn’t know, Transylvania was part of the Hungarian Empire until the 20th century.)
It’s another meat stew. Pörkölt is similar to goulash in that it contains meat (boneless), paprika, and vegetables. But the main difference between pörkölt and goulash is the latter has more gravy and the meats can contain bones.
Let me preface this by saying: I hate cherries. So the idea of a cold sour cherry soup is hell for me. But not for the Hungarian population so my opinion is invalid here.
Meggyleves is made with sour cherries (which come in 2 variants: Morello cherries and Amarelle cherries). It’s traditionally served as a dinner course, either as a starter, main soup or a dessert and it works best served during the summer.
Random fact: Turkey produced 187,941 tonnes of sour cherries in 2012, compared to Hungary’s 53,425 tonnes.
5. Spätzle (nokedli)
Spätzle, or nokedli, is a type of pasta made with fresh eggs, bread flour, and salt. The geographic origin of spätzle is unknown, leading to many nations claiming it as theirs.
The pasta is best known as a German delicacy but Hungarians love it and serve it with soup or you could have it with cherries in kirschspätzle.
You should also try:
Palacsinta (a thin crêpe-like variety of pancake)
Halászlé (a hot, spicy paprika-based fish soup)
Főzelék (a thick Hungarian vegetable stew or soup)
Dobosh (a Hungarian sponge cake)
Lángos (a deep fried flatbread although my friend Tom recommends to have it at a restaurant rather than a takeaway)
Hungarian cookbooks to buy
Enjoyed all the food? Want to nose dive into the world of Hungarian cuisine? Check out the list of books below and experience Hungary without leaving the comfort of your sofa. Well, you’ll have to make the short journey from there to the kitchen but someone’s got to do it.
There is a myriad of old wives’ tales describing ways of curing hangovers. But one popular cure in Turkey is işkembe çorbası, translated as literally “tripe soup”. Naturally, this isn’t vegetarian or vegan but it’s not reserved for the morning after a boozy night either.
İşkembe Çorbası Recipe
1/2 lb. veal tripe (about 230g)
4-5 cups water (about 1 litre)
2 tbs. butter
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk (about 60ml)
2 garlic cloves
Cook the tripe in water and salt for about 1½ – 2 hours or until tender. You can use a pressure cooker to cook it faster. Remove the foam from the surface. Take the cooked tripe out of the water and cut it into bite-size chunks. Keep the water for later.
Melt butter, add flour, stir, and add about 2 cups of the water, stirring constantly. Blend until smooth; then add the tripe. Cook 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat.
Slowly pour the egg yolk and milk into the pot and stir very slowly. Cook for 3-4 more minutes over medium heat. If it’s too thick, add some more boiled water. Pour the soup into bowls.
Add mixture of melted butter and red pepper to the soup. Finally, add the garlic and vinegar in a small bowl, pouring 1 tbs. into the soup.