As I’ve mentioned before, I love cheap dishes. I’m not sure if this is because I myself am cheap, or because I feel a bond and a great admiration for the millions of mothers (and fathers) who over the generations have devised the most creative and delicious ways to use humble and available ingredients, even when times are lean. I love chef-y dishes and trying ingredients from around the world, but when it comes down to it, what I want from a recipe is an inventive and different way to make magic with the ingredients I’m already staring at. I groan when recipes casually call for boneless quail, langostinos, zucchini flowers, or 2 lbs of freshly shucked oysters (I’m looking at you, Mario Batali); I also tend to turn the page when they call for a pound of thinly sliced truffles and another of lump lobster meat (I’m looking at you, Ina). As a recipe writer, my favorite recipes are those that make us think about regular ingredients in slightly new way.
So this Hungarian potato soup is another recipe that would be a great addition to that ‘cheap dinners from the pantry’ list that I’m always expanding. It comes together in 15 minutes and with nothing more than a few potatoes and an onion. The interesting step is the creation, in 2 minutes, of a paprika-scented roux that you add back to the soup. This is a technique that you occasionally see in Indian and other cuisines, and it allows the spices to toast a bit and meld with a fat, which binds to the flavor of the spice. It then thickens the soup and adds a lovely paprika flavor throughout that wouldn’t be the same if you simply added paprika to the liquid. So don’t skip that step!
I have written the recipe for 1 or 2 people, because I made it just for myself for lunch, but doubling or tripling is no problem. The simplicity of this soup is just marvelous!
Hungarian Potato Soup (paprikás krumpli) Serves 1-2
- 1/2 white onion, finely minced
- 2 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp bouillon powder, chicken or vegetarian
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- sour cream for serving
In a small pot, add potatoes and onions and cover with water. Add bouillon powder and bay leaf and simmer until potatoes are tender. In a small frying pan, melt the butter and add 1 tbsp flour and the paprika. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes on medium high heat. Add this mixture to the soup pot and stir. Simmer an additional 2 minutes. Serve with a generous dollop of sour cream.