Gulyas (Hungary)

"Gulyas" means cattle- or sheep-herder in Hungarian. This hearty soup has traditional roots in the foods prepared by rustic herders, long ago. Serve the soup in bowls topped with sour cream.

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound lean boneless stewing beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
Dash of cayenne pepper
3 cups beef stock or broth
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dry marjoram
Salt and pepper
1 (16 ounce) can tomatoes, broken up
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 red (or green) bell peppers, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons water
Csipetke, if desired
Sour cream

Wipe beef with damp cloth; cut into 1-inch cubes. Place oil in Dutch oven. Add beef; brown well on all sides. Remove from pan with slotted spoon; set aside.

Add onions and garlic to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add paprika, cayenne, stock, the 2 cups water, caraway, marjoram, salt, pepper and meat. Stir well. Bring to boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat to low; cook, covered, 45 minutes.

Add tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and peppers. Stir well; return to boil. Cover; cook 30 minutes.

Combine flour and the 2 tablespoons water; stir to form smooth paste. Add slowly to soup, stirring well. Cook over low heat, stirring until thickened. Drop Csipetke (noodle/dumplings) into soup before serving, if desired.