Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Hungarian toasted pasta soup

This recipe is straight from the cuisine of the nomadic Hungarian puszta, and also from my dad's down-to-earth cookery repertoire.

It was one of our family's weekend lunch staple - in Hungary lunch is the main meal with two courses, usually a soup followed by a meat dish. The toasted pasta soup or lebbencs is one of those peasant dishes that is easy to knock together, requires simple ingredients while being tasty and filling. This soup is also fully vegan and quite skinny being cooked with a few vegetables, a little oil, some pasta and Hungary's red gold - paprika.

I decided to cook it on a hot summer's day - so the half an hour cooking time was a big bonus. I made it out of what I found around the larder and in the back of the fridge, which included stem of broccoli (I saved the florets for our dinner), but you can of course replace that with kohlrabi, swede or if you like the idea of using up throw-away but otherwise perfectly good parts of veg then even cauliflower stem.

Fancy a spoonful?

Hungarian Toasted Pasta Soup
the way I make it, based on my dad's Lebbencs recipe

4 sheets of dry lasagne pasta, broken into pieces
a glug of oil (2-3 tablespoons)
a smallish onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of sweet red paprika powder
1 heaped tablespoon of white flour
2 stock cubes
1.5 - 2 litres of water
3 tablespoons of tomato passata or half a glass of tomato juice
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
5-6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
a small swede or a head of kohlrabi (or a broccoli stem), peeled and cubed
black pepper
optional: hot chilly flakes to taste

1.) Break the sheets of dry lasagne into largish (about inch/two inch-sized) pieces. Don't have to worry about the shape or the exact size of the pieces at all.
2.) Heat a generous glug of oil in a soup pot and toast the dry pasta pieces for a few minutes until they get a little colour - some may even start blistering up around the edges. Not all the pasta has to become brown.
3.) Add the finely chopped onion and fry together stirring for a minute or so.
4.) Have some water ready at hand at this point, then add in the flour and then the paprika and toast for a few seconds stirring making sure the paprika is not burning. Dilute with a glass or two of water and stir to avoid lumps.
5.) Now add in the rest of the water and the stock cubes, passata or tomato juice and all your chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and with some hot chilli flakes if you like. Add in a little more water if it looks like it needs it. This soup is meant to have a thickish, cloudy consistency so don't add too much water, but make sure it has enough to cook the veg and pasta without catching.
6.) Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about half an hour or until all the vegetables are tender. The pasta will be floppy and well cooked by the time the soup is done - that's what it's meant to be like!

Enjoy! The brave can add more hot sauce, or more tomato juice when serving - just like my granddad used to do.

PS. The little embroidered linens in my picture are very close to my heart, and of course they are from Hungary. The one under the bowl of soup is my dad's auntie's handwork, the little one more visible in the corner was thrifted for me by my lovely sister. The motifs are typical to the style of embroidery in the region where I'm from.

Sharing this recipe via the Sweet and Savoury Sunday link-up.


  1. Looks delicious Aniko. And those little embroideries are beautiful ... Bee xx

  2. your soup looks delicious!
    i hope you could eat it a little bit cold too in this hot day!
    pretty linens! lovely work!

  3. Looks lovely. Will have to give this a try xx


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