Our recent trip to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, plus the gorgeous cool fall weather rolling in, combined with my not-so-gorgeous fall cold, has got me on a serious soup kick.  It’s been weeks, and soup is all I want (the cool new soup bowls we picked up at Ren Fest aren’t helping the matter).  Of course, the best most comforting soup in the world- especially when you’re sick- is chicken noodle, and I think Hungarian Goulash is like chicken noodle soup on crack.  It’s more of a hearty stew, and it still has the traditional onions, carrots, and celery; but instead of “chicken” it has “beef” (which in the imitation meat world are more or less the same thing, but I digress…), instead of egg noodles it has noodle-y dumplings, and on top of that, it has POTATOES and lots, lots, lots of PAPRIKA.  Could anything be more delicious?

Onions + Seitan + Paprika

The answer, my friends, is no.  It is supreme deliciousness.  And best of all, it is easy to make.  So far, all the traditional Hungarian recipes I have shared with you have involved making tricky pastry dough, and may have been mildly intimidating.  But there isn’t any pastry dough here, just some simple noodle-dumplings.  That’s the hardest part, and it’s not hard!

The finished dough

I seriously encourage you to try this recipe TONIGHT.  Not tomorrow night, not next week- TONIGHT.  I am so happy with how it turned out that I did a little jig.  I think Grandma would have been proud.  This also happens to be one of the first recipes I have ever created myself, and I think that in itself is cool.  The fact that my vegetarian version of Goulash tastes fairly authentic is even cooler.

Right after I finished adding the noodles/dumplings

In the Hungarian recipe book, A Taste of Hungary, it says that “These recipes have not been laboratory tested, but their merit has been approved by the most critical of groups- HUNGARIAN HUSBANDS.”  I do not have a Hungarian husband, but I do have a first generation American-born Hungarian father.  So now I just have to wait until November, when my parents visit, for the true test: feeding this vegetarian version to him!

My Dad and Grandma, circa 1970's(?)

Last but not least, I humbly ask you for your honest feedback on this recipe.  Tell me what you liked; tell me what you would change.  Tell me how it compares to meat Goulash.  Tell me if the directions were easy to follow.  Tell me EVERYTHING!  Misha and I felt that the texture of the seitan might be a bit off for this dish, and that maybe next time I should try making it with Lightlife’s Seasoned “Beef” Strips.  I felt that it could use double the amount of dumplings.  Misha added the smoked sea salt and it really brought out a meatier flavor.  Just please share anything and everything you think with me, and together we can perfect this vegetarian Goulash!

Grandma Elek’s Hungarian Goulash

16 oz. cubed seitan (I used two 8 oz packages of the West Soy brand cubed seitan)

1 large sweet onion, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

4 stalks celery, sliced

2 medium golden potatoes, diced (I used 3 smaller potatoes- it’s up to you!)

Parsley, chopped fine (Note added on 11/9/11: If you can find parsley root, use it as well- it is a traditional ingredient that is hard to find these days, and will give your goulash a truly authentic, deep flavor!)

Sweet Hungarian Paprika (Get authentic Hungarian paprika- Szego Szeged brand is inexpensive and easy to find)

Organic Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base

3 tablespoons olive oil

Smoked sea salt (if you can get it)

Pepper

For noodles/dumplings:

1 egg

½ tsp. salt

About 2 cups of all-purpose flour

In a large pot, sauté the onions in olive oil until transparent.  Add the seitan, along with any juices that are in the packaging.  COVER the onions and seitan in paprika- be generous- the more paprika, the better.  Add about a half a cup of water and let simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Add the vegetables, the parsley, 2 quarts of water, and 3 tablespoons of bouillon, stirring everything together.  Turn the heat to high, cover, and let come to a boil.

While the pot is heating, make the dough for the noodles.  Beat the egg and salt together in a medium size bowl.  Start adding flour, beating in between, until a solid dough forms.  Keep adding flour until you can handle the dough without too much sticking.

Once the pot has come to a boil, start pinching small pieces of dough off, rolling them into little balls, and adding them to the pot.  They should be about the size of your fingertip.  Keep adding them until you run out of dough.  Cook slowly until the noodles/dumplings taste done but not mushy.  Add smoked sea salt (or regular salt if you can’t get the smoked variety) and pepper to taste.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator- tastes even better the next day!

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