Germany 2011: Gulaschsuppe

9/21/2011 11:18:00 PM

After 5 wonderful days in Paris, it was time to come back to Germany - back to lazy sunny days, back to cheesy German reality TV, and back to hearty German food.  One of the first meals we had was a huge pot of rich, paprika-spiked, meaty Gulaschsuppe (goulash soup), cooked by Sandra's uncle outdoors on a wood fire.

The soup took the better part of the afternoon to make, and was a real team effort - Sandra's family went shopping for the ingredients and chopped them up, and Sandra's uncle did the heavy lifting and looked after the fire.  We didn't use an actual recipe, and indeed it seems to change each time, depending on who's eating and how they like their soup - we even had some vocal arguments about how many potatoes to use and how finely to chop them!  I didn't bother writing down any strict measurements - it's just not that kind of dish.

Let's have a look at how we made it...

We started with beef bones in the bottom of the pot, with a trivet placed on top to keep them separate from the rest of the ingredients.  This prevents the meat falling through and burning during the long cooking time.  (You can also pick them out at the end and suck out the remaining marrow - bonus!)

We then layered the vegetables and meat above the bones, using a mixture of pork and beef.  I'm not sure what cut of meat it was though - it's just labelled as "Gulasch" in the butchers and supermarkets - here in Australia I'd use a boneless stewing cut.

The veggies were potatoes, peeled tomatoes (fresh from the garden!), some fresh chilli, celery, carrots, parsnip, onions, and loads of red and green capsicum, all chopped into small chunks.  The soup was cooked for over an hour, and the potatoes broke down completely, giving the soup a thick and velvety texture.  If you want chunks of potato in your soup, leave some of the potatoes in larger pieces, or, of course, simply add some extra potato chunks in the last half hour of cooking.

Here is the filled pot.  I love the pretty colours!

We topped it up with water, and with much trepidation, brought the big, heavy pot downstairs.  Uncle Willi built the fire, and (literally) hooked up the pot.

The fire was in the black barrel (actually an old oven), and the pot was suspended above the fire on a big chain, which could be pulled up or down to control the heat.

And then we sat down, knocked back a few beers, and waited.  The pot was too full to be stirred, so Uncle Willi would get up every now and then and shake the pot around to prevent the food from catching on the bottom.

About ten minutes before we were ready to eat, it was time to add the flavourings.

Some salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, beef stock and a few sachets of Maggi Gulasch spice mix gave the soup a lovely spicy taste and gorgeous red colour.  I love the malevolent lava-like bubbles!

Apparently in a pot this size, it normally takes a good three hours for the meat to become tender, but on this day it only took one and a half - score!

Mmm... tender meat
And then we adjourned to the party room and tucked in.

Yum yum yum!  I love Gulaschsuppe, and it was so fun to cook it on an open fire!  We smelled super-smoky afterwards but it was totally worth it.  At home I'd either cook it in a pot on the stove, or in my slow-cooker.  Not quite as romantic as the open fire, but just as delicious.

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