Fisherman’s Soup – the Hungarian Christmas dish

Today I bring you a recipe that has a great deal of actuality. My father was spinning around the kitchen counter  since the morning so we could have the delicious fisherman’s soup ready to be tasted on the festive table late in the afternoon. This is a rare moment, as he only does this once a year (well, just to clarify, he cooks at other times too, but it’s usually outside in the yard when doing some BBQ or cooking over open fire in cauldron).


We follow our traditions that our ancestors left behind for us, so on Christmas Eve we consume only fish. Fish soup and fried carp are the 2 main elements of the festive menu. Of course, there are many sweet delicacies too – but right now it’s not my main focus.


Ingredients for a big pot:

Cca. 2 kg of fish (traditionally we use carp, but can be other fish too – specially for the soup itself)

5-6 bigger onions

5-6 potatoes (based on taste)

3 tablespoons of  sweet paprika

Spicy paprika based on taste

2 tablepoons of sweet tomato puree (best if home made) 

4 pcs of bigger tomatoes

5 pcs of peppers

4 pcs of hot chilli peppers

Grease or oil (based on taste) 

Salt and pepper based on taste 



A day before cooking slice the fish into pieces. Make sure you set aside horseshoe slices that are about 1,5 cm thick and some other meaty slices – you’ll use these later in the process. Cut the rest of the fish into pieces too, including the head. Add salt and leave it to have the salt soaked in overnight. 

Chop the onion into small pieces and braise over a little fat or oil. After the onion becomes soft, add the sweet and the spicy paprika and simmer for a few minutes while stirring. Make sure to watch it carefully in order to avoid burning, because if the paprika gets burnt, the whole dish will be bitter.

When the onion base is ready, add the fish (except horseshoes), the chopped peppers and tomatoes, the tomato puree and the whole chillis. Pour water over it to have the it covered. Season with salt, pepper and cook for 1 hour.  Once the flavors come together, remove the base of the soup from the stove. Take the chillis out. Filter it through a sieve to get a good dense soup. Make sure that fishbone doesn’t get into it.

Once we have the dense base soup ready, drop the chilli back, add the chopped potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes (until potatoes become a bit cooked). Add then the fish slices and cook for another 10 minutes until ready. 


Serve while hot, with fresh bread. Add a bit of sour cream for even a better taste.

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