Anna Olson’s Hungarian Goulash

This is what I left the boys with a Tupperware container of when I left them to drive up to Edmonton today for the BlogWest conference. Here’s hoping I don’t come home to it still in the fridge and a stack of pizza boxes in the recycling bin.

It was one of the last recipes I made for the Soup Sisters cookbook – a Hungarian Goulash contributed by the awesome Anna Olson. I must admit – beef stew is not my thing, having grown up with flank steak stew that reminded me of rope cooked in stewed tomatoes. (Sorry mom.)

I wasn’t going to eat any myself, and gave Mike a bowl and went upstairs to pack. But his enthusiasm and the rich, dark, reddish broth (spiked with a hearty dose of paprika) convinced me to give it a go. (And break from the weeks of living on toast and tea.) It was fab.

It also had something called csipetke – Hungarian pinched noodles that are like teeny dumplings simmered in the finished stew. I made them, but not having a sense of nostalgia around such things may not again. Instead, I added new potatoes.

The dough is STICKY. You will have to scrape it off your fingers. I pulled the stew out of the oven and put it on the stovetop, and simmered little marble-sized pieces in the broth. You could do it in the oven, or skip it altogether.

Anna Olson’s Hungarian Goulash


March 9, 2012

Adapted from a recipe Anna Olson contributed to the upcoming Soup Sisters Cookbook (Appetite).


3 slices bacon, chopped

1 lb stewing beef (Anna recommends boneless blade roast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces)

1 onions, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 parsnip, peeled and diced

1 celery stalk, diced

2 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika

a few garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp thyme leaves

1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)

2 bay leaves

1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced or whole plum tomatoes

4 cups (1 L) beef stock (use low-sodium stock, if using store bought)

Salt and pepper to taste

5-6 new potatoes, halved or quartered, or 2-3 larger potatoes, scrubbed and diced (optional)

Sour cream for serving (optional)


1In a large, heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off most of the bacon fat (if there is a lot) and brown the beef in batches, then transfer to a heavy cast iron pot or baking dish.

2Sauté the onions, carrot, parsnip and celery until the onions are softened, and add them to the beef in the pot. Stir in the paprika, garlic, thyme, caraway seeds (if using) and bay leaves.

3Add the stock and tomatoes, cover and cook at 300F for 2 1/2-3 hours, until the beef is very tender. If you like, add the potatoes about halfway through the cooking time. Remove the bay leaves and add salt and pepper to taste.

4Serve the goulash topped with dollops of sour cream and crispy bacon.

5Csipetke: Whisk 1 egg lightly, then stir in 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and a pinch of salt - the dough should be dense but a little stretchy and you should be able to pick it up and handle it with your hands. If it’s too dense, add a little water. Using dampened hands, pinch off little pea-size pieces of the dough and drop into the simmering goulash. Simmer for 5 minutes before serving.


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26 comments on “Anna Olson’s Hungarian Goulash

  1. Monica I.
    March 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    If you call the church, the ladies might have some noodles for sale… 😉 I didn’t learn how from my grandmother before she passed away.

  2. maya
    March 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    You can also substitute csipetke with pearl barley (put a handful in with the vegetables). The Hungarian Deli near Peigan Trail sells “gulyaskrem” which is a paste with all the essential flavours a gulyas soup needs.

    • JulieVR
      March 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

      Maya – great tips, thanks! And you’re right, barley would be fab in here! Will check out the Hungarian deli!

  3. akajb
    March 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    When recipes call for beef, is it ever possible to replace with pork? I have a food intolerance with beef, so I no longer eat it. I always wonder if there are ways of turning good beef stew recipes into good pork stew ones…

    • JulieVR
      March 11, 2012 at 10:52 am

      Often you could replace beef with pork – in this case you want something that cooks low and slow, like pork shoulder… and you’d need to drain off the excess fat (or spoon it off!)

  4. Barb
    March 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    This looks like something I could get into. Delish!

  5. kickpleat
    March 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    This sounds so good. I’ve always wanted to try those little dumpling/noodle things!!

  6. maggie
    March 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Those dumplings are a lot like German spaetzle.

  7. Cathy N
    March 11, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Thanks again for yet another wonderful inspiration for dinner tonight (I can always count on you!). This goulash will be perfect to come home to after an afternoon ski today. I’ll pop the goulash into the slow cooker before we go and it will be perfection by the time we get home! Yes!

    • JulieVR
      March 11, 2012 at 10:51 am

      Oooh good idea! It would be perfect in the slow cooker!

  8. susie
    March 12, 2012 at 11:04 am

    wow, that looks nothing short of delicious!

  9. Karen
    March 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    This is my kind of meal. It looks just delicious. Love the little dumplings!

  10. akajb
    March 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Would you put the dumplings in at the start if you make it in a slow cooker? Or near the end. I’m going to try it with pork tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it works out. 🙂

  11. akajb
    March 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    In case anyone is interested, I made it today with pork. I replaced the beef broth with chicken broth (but 2.5 cups, because that’s what I had left in a tetra pack). I cooked my in the slow cooker on low all day. I did cook the bacon and browned the pork ahead of time, but that’s it. I put all the vegetables in raw. I also used regular paprika, since that’s what I had. I made the dumplings, and put them and turned it up to high when I got home. I ate about 30 minutes later, and they were cooked. Mine were pretty big, because I had trouble breaking the very sticky dough into pieces.

    Anyway, the outcome was excellent, and I’ll make it again. 🙂

  12. maya
    March 15, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Csipetke seems tricky (unless you were brought up in Hungary), but if you find it too sticky just keep the flour handy and dip the dough in (maybe knead it a touch more) a couple of times during the process. Gulyas is even better with beans instead of potatoes, just don’t forget to soak the beans overnight.

  13. denise
    May 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    cooler weather is coming, cant wait to make this goulash,slow cooker sounds great,also pearl barley sounds great.

  14. Nichole
    August 15, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I make a version of this regularly. 4 Caveats: First, if your dough is sticky (which it shouldn’t be!!! You should be able to turn it out and gently knead it!) add more flour. Second, pinch your spaetzel to the size of about chick peas, it minimizes the mushy factor. Third, don’t freeze it with the spaetzel, they fall apart when they thaw and ruin the dish. Finally, the inclusion of tomato in a goulash is akin to heresy. No self-respecting nagyanya would have a tomato anywhere near her when preparing this. They’re not native to the area and are generally thrown in there for colour by North Americans too cheap to spring for good paprika.

    That said, you can’t go wrong with a good goulash!

  15. Helen
    August 27, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Hi Everyone, this recipe looks great I would like to share with you the real Hungarian Goulash Soup. I will share with you my Mother’s cooking video. Also, “csipetke” is small and is usually used for bean soup and pea soup. There are no dumplings in the authentic Hungarian Goulash Soup. On another note Hungarian Goulash is not the same as Hungarian Goulash Soup. If you like Goulash Soup, you may also try Hungarian Goulash, which is a main dish made out of pork, chicken, beef, lamb, mushrooms and so many other things and is called “porkolt” in Hungarian. So here it goes, enjoy the recipe

  16. Tat
    February 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks so much for this recipe. Made it tonight with pork- turned out so well.really win it was easier to get better quality and flavour paprika in Canada.

    • Julie
      February 6, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      I’m so glad it worked out for you!

  17. Jon
    August 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Love the dish although I use pork shoulder steaks as they are less expensive in the UK. I also use the smoked paprika, and as I like food spicy add quite a bit more than suggested.

    Thank you for putting this recipe online,

    Once the meat and everything has been cooked up I transferred mine to a slow cooker and left it for about eight hours. The aroma is incredible. I also cook the csipetke in the slow cooker too for around ten to fifteen minutes.

    Thanks again

  18. Lynda
    April 14, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I have a spaetzle maker which fits over top of my soup pot. I load the “hopper” with the dough and slide it back and forth over the steaming cooked soup. Stir the spaetzle in briefly and the little dumplings are done. Easy and adds so much to the Goulash flavour.
    I also add frozen Spinach Nuggets to soup, 5-6 does the trick. Adds colour, nutrients and flavour.

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  21. Mike
    December 1, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    There was a Hungarian cafe in Toronto that recently closed down to the owner being too elderly to continue to manage it. The serve the best goulash. I used to have one or two bowls of the goulash once a week. It was definitely a sad news when I heard of their closing down. However, I am glad to have found your website. I tried your goulash recipe several times. Very close to what I had. Awesome! By the way, the name of the cafe was Coffee Mill Cafe.

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