Hungarian Fisherman's Soup

1 lb whole small whitefish, cleaned
2 qt water
2 C onion, chopped
1 C sweet green pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
3 bay leaves
2 T Hungarian paprika
3 lb fillet of carp, pike, sturgeon, and/or catfish
1 T flour
C sour cream
salt to taste
dried hot cherry peppers and lemon slices, as a garnish

First, prepare Court Bouillon. Boil the small fish - heads, bones, skin, fins and all - in the water, together onion, green pepper, tomato and bay leaves, for one hour. Strain this mixture to remove the larger bones etc., and then puree using a food mill. Return the bouillon to a large soup pot, heat not quite to the boiling point, and stir in the paprika. Do not overheat, or the paprika will turn grainy. Add the fish fillets, cut into two-finger thick pieces. Cook gently for 10 minutes.

Shortly before serving, in a small saucepan combine 1 C of the fish broth with the flour and sour cream, stirring until smooth. Fold this mixture back into the soup, stir gently for another minute or so, salt to taste, then serve with the hot peppers and lemon slices on the side, together with bread and white wine.

Adapted from Gundel's Hungarian Cookbook. After lengthy, Palinka-fueled discussion with colleagues in Budapest, I understand that this preparation is a sacrament.

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