Karalábé is classed as a Turnip Cabbage in English. It has a unique flavour, like coriander does, that gives a soup its own unique flavour. At 125 Ft (31p) it is good value.
You can chop the Karalábé into chunks and/or slices. Its texture is like an apple.
Petrezselyemgyöker (Parsley Roots) also have their own unique flavour, but not as strong/unique as the Karalábé.
Petrezselyemgyöker comes in packets of 10-14, depending on their size (length and thickness), and can be cooked purely as a soup.
Zeller (Celery Root) is another Hungarian vegetable that has a unique flavour.
Zeller is a nice blending vegetable (adds a flavour that blends into any soup without being too strong/overpowering) that I normally slice and use instead of Karalábé.
Jégcsapretek (Radish), whose nickname is White Carrot, is a mild Hungarian vegetable that is used as a 'stomach filler'.
Jégcsapretek is quite expensive, but does make each soup portion plenty.
If you want good cuts of Csirke (Chicken), Tesco do fresh cuts that are meaty.
Pay around 1,400 Ft for a whole chicken and around 900 Ft for 10 meaty drumsticks.
If you want good quality stock cubes to enhance your soup, use the Maggi brand.
Maggi stock cubes (chicken or beef) are affordable and have 12 in a box.
Having stayed in Szeged (countryside of Hungary) for a while already, with its fresh farm produce ('out of the ground, no added preservatives' Hungarian farmer vegetables), I thought I would make a soup using some of those wonderful, 'unusual/weird looking', Hungarian ingredients.
If you are staying in Hungary for a while, perhaps as a student and/or someone on a budget, whereby you want to make your own homemade vegetable soup or vegetable and chicken soup using Hungarian farm ingredients but do not know how to, here are my methods:
Below is a list of soup ingredients with their English and Hungarian names and prices (exchange rate at this time: 400 HUF to 1 GBP). Although I tend to buy these soup ingredients from Tesco or the Piac (Market) in Mars Tér, you can easily buy them from other supermarkets and local green groceries in Hungary. In England (UK) you can find these ingredients in the Morrisons supermarket for example.
Various Hungarian and international ingredients you can add to your soup
Depending on what vegetables and/or meat you use in your homemade soup, you can make a 6 litre vegetable soup for as little as 1,200 Ft (£3) and with chicken (10 large drumsticks) for as little as 2,289 Ft (£5.72).
That's not bad to say it could serve 12 small bowls (half litre each) or 6 large bowls (1 litre each), which should feed one or two people for 2-3 days at a cost of 400 Ft (£1) per day for a cheap vegetable soup and 1,000 Ft (£2.50) per day for an expensive vegetable and chicken soup. Either way, cheaper than in the UK.
Cheapest Vegetable Soup: 1,200 Ft (£3)
Most Expensive Vegetable Soup: 1500 Ft (£3.75)
Cheapest Vegetable Soup & 10 Chicken Drumsticks: 2,289 Ft (£5.72)
Most Expensive Vegetable Soup & 10 Chicken Drumsticks: 2,589 Ft (£6.47)
Cheapest Vegetable Soup & 1 Small (Whole) Chicken: 2,400 Ft (£6)
Most Expensive Vegetable Soup & 1 Small (Whole) Chicken: 2,700 Ft (£6.75)
Cheapest Vegetable Soup & 1 Large (Whole) Chicken: 2,700 Ft (£6.75)
Most Expensive Vegetable Soup & 1 Large (Whole) Chicken: 3,000 Ft (£7.50)
When making a vegetable and chicken soup (drumsticks and/or whole chicken) I tend to fry the chicken first, just to brown it off and give a little extra flavour:
STEP #1 - Light up a gas hob, to a level just past simmering level (i.e. very low frying level, between low and medium heat), and then put the empty 6 litre pot onto it.
STEP #2 - Put around one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into the empty 6 litre pot and let it heat up. Do NOT let it burn or get too hot though. Around 30 seconds should be sufficient.
STEP #3 - Add some chopped onion (one big onion, chopped/sliced), black ground pepper, rock salt (about half a teaspoon) and some garlic to the heated extra virgin olive oil. Half a bulb of garlic (3-4 clovers) is enough, with one whole bulb being for garlic lovers!
At this point you are just frying some garlic and onion in a pot, with black pepper and rock salt, to give the oil some flavour (to start the garlic and onion juices flowing).
STEP #4 - Once the oil is sizzling, with the garlic and onion slightly browning, add your chicken drumsticks, chopped chicken breasts or whatever pieces of chicken you are using to the pot and leave them until parts of their skin and meat turn golden brown. You can put the lid on the pot if you wish to steam cook the chicken slightly and then boil the chicken later or you can just boil the chicken later without this browning process.
STEP #5 - In this example, with the chicken now browned and the oil juices soaked in the chicken, it is time to add the chopped vegetables.
You could marinade the chicken, for a few hours or overnight in the fridge, using the oil, garlic, onions, black pepper and rock salt before frying them in the pot. Not everyone has the time to do that preparation though, hence the above 'cook straight away' method.
STEP #6 - Add the vegetables - 4 chopped carrots (2-3 centimeter chunks), 3-4 whole onions (each sliced in half), 5-7 pieces of chopped parsley roots (petrezselyemgyöker) (sliced into 2-3 centimeter chunks), 1 whole turnip cabbage (karalábé) (sliced/chopped into chunks), 1 radish/white carrot (jégcsapretek) (5-10 millimeter slices) and 4-6 large potatoes (chopped in half or three chunks).
STEP #7 - If you want to enhance your soup with chicken and/or beef stock cubes, I recommend the Maggi brand. Notice I said And/Or because sometimes I like to mix them for even more flavour. Furthermore, I also suggest putting one stock cube in at the beginning (water not boiled yet), one in when the water is boiling and one in at the end.
Various stages of cooking a soup with Hungarian vegetables
If you don't want to add the turnip cabbage (karalábé), because it has its own unique, strong, flavour (in the same way as coriander does), you could use the Zeller instead (sliced). You can use the two together, but you will not gain from the flavour of the Zeller simply because the turnip cabbage (karalábé) will dominate the taste of the soup.
STEP #8 - At this point you can add half a pot of water and start boiling the soup in order to fuse (blend/ferment) the ingredients or you can fill the pot full and boil. I prefer to half fill the pot with water simply because you are starting with a strong flavour (too strong) that can be watered down later according to taste.
STEP #9 - If you are boiling a full pot of water (soup) simply boil on a 'just past simmering heat' (very low heat) for at least 2 hours, if not 3 hours. And if you are boiling a half pot of water (soup), let it boil for at least 30 minutes (to allow fusing) before adding more water to almost fill the entire pot.
STEP #10 - After 2-3 hours the vegetables will be soft enough to break apart easily with a fork, but not slushy. The potatoes and carrots for example should be breakable but still firm enough to eat (i.e. break into two pieces, not into 5 or 6 slushy pieces). If after 2 or 3 hours you still find the flavour of the soup a little too strong, you should water it down further by adding one or two extra litres of water.
STEP #11 - Serve up the soup. After 2-3 hours, when you think the soup is ready for you (i.e. to your liking), serve it up. Reheat any leftovers the next day or simply freeze it for another day.
Various colours and textures you get from a Hungarian vegetable soup
NOTE: I like my soup as 'Farm Soup' (as natural as possible), which means I like to keep the skins and leaves on my vegetables and add them to the pot. If you prefer, you could peel the skin off the Zeller and Karalábé for example, but I would never peel the skin off the Petrezselyemgyöker or Jégcsapretek.