Hungarian cauliflower soup, also known as karfiolleves, is a quick, easy, frugal, pantry-friendly soup that’s simple to make but complex in taste. It’s made with dumplings and lots of spice and is unlike any other soup you’ve experienced. Trust us.
[Editor’s Note: After reading about this Hungarian cauliflower soup, we’re nostalgic for a place we’ve never been. Has that ever happened to you?] In Hungary, the soup course is a point of national pride. Hungarian cooks have developed a whole battery of soup-making techniques unknown in other European cooking traditions. One secret behind karfiolleves, a warming, brick-red cauliflower soup, is the handling of the paprika, a spice introduced by occupying Turks in the 16th century and thereafter embraced by Hungarians as their own. Paprika is fat-soluble, so it makes sense to begin by cooking it in butter, but it also releases its flavor quickly and scorches easily, so broth is added to the pot soon after. Whereas cooks elsewhere rely on rich meat or vegetable broths as building blocks of flavor, Hungarians tend to use very light broths or even water. In a soup like this one, the idea is to let the pure flavor of the vegetables shine through.–Editors of Saveur
What Folks Are Saying About This Cauliflower Soup Recipe
“It was gorgeous!” “Satisfying and deceptively easy.” “Totally awesome!” “It’s basically beginner-proof.” “This one got handwritten into a cookbook because we love it that much.” “Even a dumpling-virgin could have fun with this recipe.” “A keeper.” That’s what folks are saying about this recipe. They’re also saying you may want to temper the dose of Hungarian paprika that you toss in the pot if you’re the type of person who likes to keep things from getting too crazy hot. Details are in the recipe below.
Hungarian Cauliflower Soup
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 45 M
- Serves 4 to 8
- For the dumplings (optional)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 g) kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg
- For the Hungarian cauliflower soup
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (a scant 1/2 ounce) paprika* (if you can't find Hungarian paprika or you prefer things less fiery, use regular paprika and add a pinch or more of cayenne pepper to taste)
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
- 6 cups homemade vegetable stock or canned vegetable broth (or substitute 4 cups stock and 2 cups water)
- 1 small head cauliflower, cored and cut into bite size (about 1-inch) florets
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 g) kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- A few sprigs flat-leaf parsley, stemmed and finely chopped, for garnish (about 2 tablespoons)
- Sour cream or crème fraîche (optional but strongly encouraged!)
- Make the dumplings (optional)
- 1. In a bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the butter and, using your fingers, rub it into the flour until pea-size crumbles form. Add the egg and stir until a somewhat wet, soft, sticky dough forms. (Don’t worry. It will firm.) Cover and refrigerate the dumpling dough for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.
- Make the Hungarian cauliflower soup
- 2. Heat the butter in a 6-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the paprika and onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, cauliflower, and carrot, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
- 3. When the vegetables are tender, using a 1/2-teaspoon measuring spoon, portion out and drop all the dumpling dough into the simmering soup. Cover the pot and cook, without stirring, until the dumplings expand slightly, float to the surface, and are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper.
- 4. To serve, ladle the soup and dumplings, if using, into serving bowls and garnish with parsley and, if desired, a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche.
What Kind Of Paprika Should You Use For This Hungarian Cauliflower Soup?
- This recipe calls for paprika. But which kind of paprika? Hungarian? Sweet? Hot? Smoked? Spanish? Confusingly, paprika can be labeled any number of things, and although one would assume that something labeled “Hungarian Sweet Paprika” would be perfect for a recipe labeled “Hungarian Cauliflower Soup,” be aware that paprika can vary rather dramatically in taste and heat from one brand or type to the next. And don’t be tricked by that innocent sounds of “Hungarian Sweet Paprika”—this particular paprika can be fiery. Based on our experience, consider first making this recipe with half Hungarian paprika and half regular paprika. This is what many of our recipe testers tried. Then you can get a feel for the exact amount of heat you desire next time you make the soup. (And trust us, you will want there to be a next time.) And if you can’t get your hands on a tin of Hungarian paprika but want to experience it, you can substitute regular paprika and simply add anywhere from a pinch to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne to the recipe. You may also want to read what The Kitchn has to say on the many different sorts of paprika.