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Hungarian Sausage, Baby Bok Choy, and Sweet Potato Soup

My grandmother has congestive heart failure, which means that she is restricted to a low-salt diet. When she gets sick in the winter this goes straight out the window, because she tends to order in salty soup from the local take-out Chinese food place on the corner. I try to stave this off by delivering homemade chicken stock to her whenever we make up a batch. All she ever cares about is broth, anyway.

(She also has diabetes. No sugar and no salt, can you imagine? We work very hard to make tasty things for her, and she always appreciates that we go out of our way to make even desserts that she can eat.)

Point being, when I stopped by with soup earlier this week, she insisted that I take some her Hungarian sausage in exchange. Hungarian sausage is just about the best stuff around, spicysavory with paprika and all sorts of other tasty stuff going on.

When I was in Hungary, I spent a lot of time going into supermarkets and butchers’ shops, trying to order my favorite kind of kolbasz (sausage). People would smile and have whole conversations at me that I could not understand, and I would resort to simply pointing at the hanging meats and asking, “Edes? Finom?” (Sweet? Delicious?)

“Edes! Finom!” they would affirm, and pack me off with my meats, happy as can be.

My fridge also happened to be stuffed with extra baby bok choy this week, because Dave picked up a pound and a half of it when all I needed was a handful for a bowl of Barbara‘s amazing Kimchi Noodle Soup.

What to do, what to do? I decided to adapt Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe for Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup to use up the greens and meats that just happened to be filling my fridge. I made a few other changes to the recipe along the way, too, reducing the fat and adding in a few shallots.

It turned out fantastic!

Okay, listen. Most of the flavor in this soup comes from the sausage. So if you’re going to make this, use the tastiest sausage you can get your grubby little paws on. If you live in NYC, that means getting up to the hentes (pronounced hentesh, this is the Hungarian word for butcher) on the corner of E. 81st St. and 2nd Ave and buying a selection of Hungarian sausages to mix and match into the soup.

Just smile at them and ask, “Edes? Csipos? Finom?” (Ay-desh (‘ay’ like ‘hay’ without the h), meaning sweet; chee-poshe, meaning spicy; fee-nome, meaning delicious.)

They will take good care of you there.

And suddenly it occurs to me that this post would make an excellent entry for Apples & Thyme, a food blog event celebrating our relationships with our mothers and grandmothers.

Hungarian Sausage, Baby Bok Choy, and Sweet Potato Soup
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of a recipe from Bon App├ętit, October 2007)
12 oz Hungarian sausage, cut into 1/4″ thick round slices
2 medium onions, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs. red-skinned sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4″ thick slices
1 lb. white-skinned potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4″ thick slices
6 C chicken stock
12 oz. baby bok choy, cores cut out and discarded

Cook the sliced sausage in your soup pot over medium heat, stirring often, until they start to look done and a decent amount of fat has rendered out of them. Transfer the sausage to a plate covered in paper towels to drain.

Add the onions to pot and cook until they just start to brown, stirring often. I usually suggest browning your onions very deep and dark, but with this recipe to do so would make the whole thing too sweet. So, just go until they are translucent and just barely getting golden.

Add the garlic and potatoes and cook, stirring often, until the potatoes begin to soften (or it looks like it’s about to burn, whichever comes first).

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, scraping up the tasty browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft. This should take about 20 minutes.

Partially mash the potatoes with your wooden spoon (or other stirring implement) against the side of the pot, leaving them pretty chunky. Stir in the sausage. Stir in the baby bok choy and simmer just until wilted. Salt and pepper to taste.

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16 Responses to “Hungarian Sausage, Baby Bok Choy, and Sweet Potato Soup”

  1. you are such a sweet granddaughter!!!

  2. deb says:

    Ditto what Steamy said. I love this interpretation of the recipe–I have to try it next.

  3. Kalyn says:

    Oh yes, this does sound wonderful. What a nice thing to do for your grandmother. I haven’t had the Hungarian sausage, but I love Hungarian paprika, so I’d love to try it.

  4. This looks like good stuff! My husband is Hungarian and I’m always looking for good recipes to surprise him with. If you ever decide to post a good chicken paprikas recipe, let me know! ;)

  5. Dana says:

    My great-grandmother was from Hungary and is said to have been a fabulous cook. I’m sure she would have loved this soup! It looks delicious.

  6. This is a great addition to Apples & Thyme, I’m adding it as we speak. thanks for joining

  7. Jeni says:

    Thanks for participating! This recipe looks delicious and just the sort of thing my sick husband needs right now.

  8. Ramona says:

    Great inspiration. I have a pot on the stove now with homemade chicken stock, baby bok choy, Polish sausage and diced yukon potatoes. This is just what I needed to pull some odds and ends together to make something wonderful.

  9. I want some of that finom sausage NOW, it sounds so very good. What a nice grandmother to give it to you, and what a nice granddaughter you are to look out for her health. Thanks for the interesting post.

  10. Ann says:

    Great post… and what a good grand-daughter you are! Your soup sounds fantastic.

  11. sognatrice says:

    I’ve never had Hungarian sausage, but I do love kielbasa and all kinds of spicy Calabrian (southern Italian) sausage–I’m sure I’d love this.

    Great post :)

  12. This looks like the kind of soup I would love to sip dry…yummy. Brilliant ingredients and combination…

  13. Tartelette says:

    You are a great granddaughter! I love the sound of this soup and I am adding it to my list of “must try” for the coming week! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Julie says:

    Wonderful, thanks for the Hungarian lesson and the yummy recipe! I always end up with leftover bok choy, too, and this looks like a great way to use it up, and end up. Now all I need is Hungarian sausage! I hope your grandma’s doing well these days. You’re very kind for making sure she’s eating well and happily!

  15. Julia says:

    I made this a while ago with Bonnie and it was quite tasty. The sausage looks firm/smoked and looks fantastic. I think I need to start roaming around looking for something like this in Boston.

    Also your posts about Hungarian paprika have inspired me to add it to more things. My current favorite is a heavy dusting of paprika on top of eggs w/ sharp cheddar cheese.

  16. This sounds wonderful. I love the baby bok choy in there. Now to find some decent Hungarian sausage in very rural Missouri. : )

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