Soup is to Hungary like ice cream is to Italy. We didn’t invent it, but we developed many varieties to perfection. If you look at the soups of other countries, you will see that few types are available on the menus, and Hungary is, in comparison, a “superpower in soups”.
Really low calorie soups
There are delicious warm dishes that fill you up and you still don’t have to worry about your calorie intake. These are thin soups, the ones that contain no thickeners. The different kinds of broth are made from almost any kind of meat and bone, with a lot of added vegetables and spices. What makes these soups great is that they are cooked for a long time on low heat, and many flavours are released from the meat and bones resulting in a very concentrated taste.
The queen of stock is consommé. This is a perfectly transparent soup that has been clarified, i.e. everything, even the smallest particle has been removed.
Thickened: more filling soups
Hungarian cuisine uses many thickening methods to make dishes more nutritious. One of these is roux, when flour is cooked in some type of fat and then mixed into the soup. Slurry is a lighter solution, when flour is mixed with milk, sour cream, cream, yogurt or kephir and then added to the soup. Be careful if you want to watch your figure, with their fat and carbohydrate content these thickeners work against your slimming diet. Of course when you long for a substantial bean soup, thickening makes no difference. If you eat thickened soup as a full dish, and it is the only course you have, then there is still hope.
If you are not a fan of whole vegetables and fruit, but you like their taste, this is a good way to prepare them. You can mash or blend the ingredients, which can be any kind of vegetable or fruit. If you don’t use too much flour or cream for thickening, or you use alternative thickeners like rice flour, graham flour or starch, the soup will contain much fewer calories. Often you can get tasty and light dishes with a pleasant consistency even if you leave out thickeners entirely.
It is mostly because of the substantial and varied ingredients, not their liquid content, that we choose this type of soup. Together they create the harmony of flavours that we expect from a thick soup. In addition to the basic ingredients, you can have many kinds of additions to make your dish more substantial, you can use meat and offal to make, for example, liver dumplings, kneaded or mixed dough, like dumplings, or cereals like bulgur.
Ragout soups are not suitable for appetizers, since you need some space in your stomach for them and you need some time to rest afterwards. These soups are often thickened with sour cream or cream, so ladies watching their weight should not have them too often. Of course, once in a while you can give in to temptation without feeling bad about it. Hungarian cuisine has a great variety of ragout soups, including bean soup “Jókai” style, ragout soup with tarragon or “Palóc” soup.