The most typical soups in Hungary (meaning how popular they are, how frequently we eat them) are based on the most typical, easily gathered and all year round vegetables and meats, as follows:
Chicken soup: Csirkehusleves (cheer-keh-hoosh-le-vesh) or Tyukhusleves (tiook-hoosh-le-vesh). Hungarian chicken soup is what a Hungarian child would grow up on, like we did – being raised a chicken soup addict in Hungary seems to be quite natural. The chicken soup is very much part of the Sunday family meals, with lots of vegetables and chicken pieces (including less usual parts of chickens, hens and roosters, like chicken gizzard or rooster testicles). It is especially popular in the cooler and colder seasons (from October to April), and is indeed considered to be one of the most effective home made medicine if you have a cold.
Tomato soup: eaten both savoury and sweet: tomato puree is mixed with celery and vegetables (onion or bouillon seasoning) and black pepper, or it is made sweet with sugar. Tomato soup is served with pasta.
Potato soup: the most typical vegetable deserves its own soup. It is cooked with or without sausages, but again with lots of vegetables. Oftentimes topped with sour cream. A soup for all seasons.
Pea soup: the lovely gentle spring peas are huge favourite of housewives in Hungary, but pea soup is made with frozen peas all year round. Bouillon and vegetables give the base of the pea soup. Some make it sweeter some make it more savoury, some use roux, others sour cream, there are endless varieties. Pea soup with mint is not widespread in Hungary, it is recently cropping up on the Hungarian food landscape.
Green bean soup: the green bean soup has lots of varieties in Hungary. The seasonal fresh green beans are very popular. As for the colour variety, the most popular version is actually yellow, not green. Many housewives are hunting for the sweet, yellow and smooth ‘butter green beans on the markets.
Sour cherry soup: there are lots of nice sour cherries in Hungary, and this summer fruit is quite popular as a starter. The cherries are washed and cooked with cinnamon, sugar, etc. The soup is thickened with sour cream and flour.
Bean soup: made with sausage or smoked ham, in plain style or ‘Jokai style’ – a really substantial soup, typically eaten for lunch time as it is quite stuffing
Goulash soup (yes, it is a soup in Hungary, not a stew) – the Hungarian term for goulash is gulyás (say: goo-yaash). It is indeed like a stew mixed with a thick vegetable soup and little pasta balls called csipetke.
There are all kinds of soups in Hungary, as Hungarian cuisine is very soup focussed: you can get anything from cheese soup through broccoli cream soup to onion soup or mushroom soup.
Lighter soups – mostly soups with vegetables and fruits – are typically paired with more substantial main courses, while heavier, meat based soups like bean soup with smoked ham or goulash soup with beef cubes, or tarragon chicken soup are paired with lighter main courses like veggie casseroles or pasta dishes.
Many people in Hungary like to eat their soups with hot paprika, or the mixtures based on hot paprika, like Eros Pista paprika cream (ground hot paprika in a thick creamy sauce) or Piros arany paprika cream.