May 14, 2014

Soup of the Bakony Outlaws

First things first, this soup has an outstanding name that comes not from the bacon in it, but from a region of Hungary called Bakony.  I picture a bunch of rough looking dudes eating this feast around a campfire in the mountains after just having stolen the bacon that's used in it. Besides that, the ingredient list is a lot of my favorite things all piled into one very rich, hearty, comforting soup. Not the most "springy" soup, but it sure did hit the spot on a cozy Friday night spent at home.  If you like Hungarian Mushroom soup and if you like bacon, you will most definitely enjoy this soup. 

One important aspect of making this soup (and most soups) is that the vegetables are cooked perfectly. Not too mushy, not too hard, but just perfect. Chopping them up small and consistent in size (before you begin making the soup), as the recipe indicates, helps with this and also keep an eye on your pot to make sure it doesn't boil too heavily but stays at a low simmer.  I felt a little guilty chopping up the gorgeous beef tenderloin to put in this soup forgot all about it once I tasted those tender little chunks in the finished soup.  This soup takes a lot of chopping but believe me, it is worth the effort.  I will definitely be making this again on a cold winter's night in the future.

Soup of the Bakony Outlaws 
Adapted from Fine Cooking and I made very few changes. 

Serves 6 +
  • 3 Tbs. oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 slices thick cut bacon, about 1/4 lb or slightly les, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 8 oz. beef tenderloin, cut in 1/4-inch dice (the original recipe calls for veal) 
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 skinny carrots, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch dice 
  • 2 medium turnips, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, cut in 1/4-inch dice (I used cremini but a fancier variety would be swell)
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch dice (medium=about three inch diameter)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded, and cut in 1/4-inch dice  (a can of diced would also work well)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard, ribs removed, sliced into ribbons (optional)
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven and cook the onions and bacon over medium heat until the onions start to color, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes to release and develop its flavor. Add the beef and just enough stock to cover it. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the chopped carrots, turnips, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, and enough stock to cover the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, another 20 minutes. Add a little more stock if the soup looks too dry during cooking, bearing in mind that more liquid will be added later. (I did not need to add more stick, used 3 cups total.)

Put the sour cream and cream in a small bowl and stir in the flour with a fork or whisk.  Pour this into the pot and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in the chopped chard and fresh dill and dish it up!

We ate this with a seedy baguette and could not stop oohing and aahing! It is extremely rich and I think the amount of cream/sour cream could be reduced in half and still be just as inspiring. 

Soup of the Bakony Outlaws

P.S. This soup tastes about a zillion times better than it photographs!

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