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Hungarian Fisherman’s Soup (Halászlé)

This soup is one of Hungary's most famous dishes although Hungarians are not really a fish-eating nation. There are great arguments about how you must cook this soup and which version is the best, most original recipe. I just really love this dish (I've learned how to make this version from my father) and I think everyone should make this according to their taste. It's best to cook outside, on an open fire in a cauldron (“bogrács”), but we often make it inside, on a stove-top mainly in December as a dish at Christmas.

Ingredients (for 6-8)*
/please note that these amounts are just suggestions, just how much I used. You can use more carp, less breams, more onion, more or less paprika etc…/

1 kg (2.2 lbs) small freshwater fish (such us breams) cleaned, scaled, gutted, heads and tails on
1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) carp tails, end pieces (use carp heads too if you have them)
1 kg (2.2 lbs) carp fillets, skin on (the flesh is scored to cut through the bones)
3-4 large onions
3-4 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika (try to buy good quality paprika, it's best if it's from Szeged)
1 tbsp hot Hungarian paprika
1-2 hot, dry Hungarian cherry pepper (or other hot chilies)
about a small handful of salt
water (about 4 liters)

1. Make your fire (if you're cooking outside)
2. Coarsely chop the onions
3. Sprinkle the carp fillets with some salt and put them into the fridge
4. Place the breams (or other small fishes) into the cauldron, add the carp tails and pieces too and pour about 4 liters of water over (it should cover the fishes)
5. Put the cauldron over the fire, add the diced onions, season with a small handful of salt and cook on high heat (large fire) for at least 1 hour
6. After one hour of cooking, when the fishes are falling apart, and you can see some grease (from the fishes) on top, place the cauldron higher from the fire (low heat) add about 3 tbsp of sweet and 1 tbsp of hot paprika.
7. Stir it gently then cook for another 10-15 minutes
8. Remove the cauldron from the fire
9. Place a food mill (or a sieve) over a large pot, the ladle some soup and fish pieces into it. Take the heads, tails and large bones out then press it through the food mill. (occasionally add some soup to help the fish meat pass easier). Repeat this process with all the soup and fish-pieces (sometimes discard the bones and the remaining flesh from the food mill)
10. Pour this lovely thick soup-base back to the cauldron, and put it back on the fire (low heat)
11. At this point add some more paprika and/or salt if needed
12. This soup should be quite hot, so add one or two dried hot cherry peppers (or other chilies)
13. Take the salted carp fillets from the fridge and cut them into large pieces then add them into the soup-base.
14. Stir gently and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
15. Remove the cauldron from the heat – the soup is ready to serve!
16. This is best eaten with good quality bread – so slice some. Place on the table some sliced hot green peppers too (for someone who the soup is still not hot enough :))
17. Serve a nice portion to everyone and ENJOY!.

/The music is based on a Hungarian folk song, played and made by my husband, MrStick© 2018 – (all rights reserved)/

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