In response to a request from my friend Lynette, I’m going to tell you all about what makes for a great Hungarian soup—and probably most great vegetable and meat soups as well. The secret is rántás, the Magyar equivalent of roue. Let’s begin with the ingredients, with the amounts for a week’s worth of soup for two (Martine and I like home-made soups):
- 1 oz unsalted butter
- 1 oz olive oil (need not be virgin: I prefer olive oil that’s been around, if you know what I mean)
- 3 tbsps white flour
- 1/2 minced onion (minced means chopped up real tiny)
- 1/2 bunch minced parsley (again: go to town with your knife here)
- 2 tbsps real Hungarian Szegedi paprika (not Spanish paprika!)
Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan until it melts, stirring well. Give it a minute or two before adding the white flour. Stir until the flour turns brown. Add the onion and parsley and finally the paprika. When your rántás is done, scoop it into your soup toureen and start adding the other good stuff.
Note that the photo above is your rántás after the first three ingredients only. In time, you will adjust the ingredients to more accurately accord with your taste buds.
You can sometimes find good Hungarian paprika in supermarkets, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I get mine from Otto’s Hungarian Import Store in Burbank, and I prefer this variety, the Imported Szegedi Hungarian Paprika. When you get your paprika, keep it in the refrigerator: bugs love it too much.