From The Chef’s Secret Cookbook, by Louis Szathmáry
Chef’s Secret: Be careful with the onions. Their preparation is the most important part in making the soup. Cold onions should go into a cold pot with the lard or bacon drippings, then they are heated together. This is important because if the post and the shortening are not, the onions will start to fry, brown and evaporate instead of turning into a thick soft substance.
The slurry (this is an expression from the food manufacturing industry) is the safest and fastest way to secure a lump-free soup without making a roux.
The melted shortening and paprika mixture gives the color to soup that housewives try for but seldom achieve.
Those are his notes. My notes are more personal. Dad and I ate at The Bakery, his restaurant in Chicago, in 1982. The meal was so good, Dad bought a couple of cook books as souvenirs. My copy is falling apart and Chef Louis’ autograph is water-stained. Jay pronounced this second try as excellent, better than the first. I’m not sure what the difference is. I know I reinterpreted step 7, but no harm was done. I used canola oil instead of the bacon drippings, omitted the caraway (because I don’t have any), the bell pepper (don’t like them), garlic salt/powder (don’t have any). I made a double batch, but not the dumplings. I just didn’t get that far.
For the soup
2 lb. cubed boneless beef, chuck or similar cut
2 cups finely minced onion
6 tbsp. lard or bacon drippings (see above)
1 qt. 3/4-to 1-inch potato cubes
1 small carrot, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 large ripe tomato, peeled and chopped,
or 4 tbsp canned tomato purée or 2 tbsp. canned tomato paste
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp. Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic salt or 1 small pinch garlic powder
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 small bunch green parsley
1 whole bay leaf
For the tiny dumplings
1 small egg
2 tbsp. water
3/4 cup flour
1 pinch salt
1. mix the 1/4 cup of flour with 1 tbsp. of the Hungarian paprika, 2 tbsp of the salt, the black pepper, garlic salt or powder, and the caraway seeds.
2. Tied the parsley and bay leaf securely together.
3. Sauté the onions over medium heat in a heavy skillet in 4 tbsp. of the lard or bacon dripping. When they become glossy, pour in a cup of water and add the carrot and the bell pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Spread out the meat on a cookie sheet and sprinkle have of the spice-flour mixture over it. Turn over the pieces of meat and try to coat them evenly.
5. Increase the heat to high. Lift the lid and let the water evaporate, so that the onions start to fry.
6. Quickly add the meat to the onions, one fourth at a time. Keep turning the meat with a spatula after each addition, waiting until the red color leaves before adding more meat.
7. When all the meat is added, decrease the heat to low. Cover the pot tightly and let it simmer for 5 minuted. Add 1/2 cup of water and and scrape the bottom of the pan. Cover again and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring once in a while.
8. From the remaining flour and spice, make a slurry by adding a little water. Be sure that it is completely smooth and without lumps. Keep it at room temperature.
9. Pour 2 qt. of water over the meant and increase the heat to medium. Add the fresh or canned tomato, parsley, and bay leaf. Once the liquid comes to a boil, stir in the slurry, pouring it in a slow even stream.
10. Cover and again bring the mixture to a boil. Add the potatoes and simmer over low heat until the meat is tender and the potatoes are cooked.
11. Just before serving, remove the parsley and, in a small saucepan, warm up the remaining 2 tbsp. of lard or bacon drippings. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. paprika and stir constantly until it warms and turns a vivid red. Put this in the soup.
12. To prepare the tiny dumplings: Mix the egg, water, pinch of salt, and flour in a small bowl with your hands, or you can use the paddle of an electric mixer. When these ingredients are thoroughly mixed, bring to a boil 1 qt. of water with 1 tsp. of salt. Dip the tip of a spoon into the boiling water. With the wet spoon, take a piece of dough no larger than a hazelnut and drop it into the boiling water by gently hitting the side of the pot with the spoon handle.
13. Dip the spoon into the water again, and repeat the process until all the dough is used. Decrease the heat and cook the dumplings for 3 to 4 minutes. With a colander, drain the dumplings and rinse them with cold water. Shake off all the water then add the dumplings to the soup.