Nagymama’s Hungarian Chicken Soup for Your Family’s Soul


OK. I promised you my Hungarian chicken soup recipe. Being that we are suffering from an arctic blast, with wind chills in the negative 15 to 25 degrees, it seems that a wonderful pot of simmering chicken soup is the perfect anecdote for the bone-chilling days we’re experiencing in many parts of the country. Here is the way I remember Nagymama, my Hungarian grandmother, making it. I’ve carried on her tradition by making it this way for my own family as well:

o Fill up your stock pot about two-thirds of the way with water. No need to measure; just fill it so that there’s enough room to add all of the following ingredients. (two-thirds should be just about perfect.)

o Rinse your chicken with cold water and add it to the pot. Use either a whole cut-up chicken with the insides removed or three to four split breasts, with skin. Season the pot with ground kosher salt and pepper. Partially cover the pot and bring to a boil.

o When it boils, remove the lid, reduce the temperature to a roaring simmer, and once you get the boiling under control, partially cover again. Cook at this temperature for around 30-45 minutes, until the chicken is tender when poked with a fork.

o Turn off heat and remove the scum from the top of the pot. Then remove all chicken from pot. De-skin, de-bone, cut into bite-size pieces and put it back into the pot. Add peeled carrots (the authentic Hungarian way is to add them whole, not cut up), diced celery (again, add whole stalks if you want to be authentic) and quartered peeled medium size onions. Check your seasonings, now adding genuine, sweet Hungarian paprika (I also add a healthy does of thyme, although Nagymama never did!) Simmer on low heat for at least a couple of hours, until the flavors have a chance to mingle. (You can also let it simmer all night long on the lowest possible heat, removing it from the stove first thing in the morning.)

o Right before you’re ready to serve it, add thin egg noodles right to the pot, turning up the heat so that they cook through (about eight minutes.) Enjoy!

Nagymama always served this with homemade bread and pure butter. A European pastry was also served, as was a good cup of after-dinner coffee or tea.

Fewer aromas fill up your home better. Fewer memories of your children’s home could be stronger than the ones this will create. Try to keep a pot of this going for the rest of the winter. I am trying to do the same……

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