Újházi chicken soup

A classic of Hungarian wedding receptions, the Újházi is a flavor-rich chicken soup stacked with a mountain of vegetables — most of all: carrots, green peas, and mushrooms — and noodles. This reviving soup traces its moniker to Ede Újházi, a 19th-century Hungarian actor and a Rabelaisian figure who had the kitchen staff of Wampetics restaurant (the predecessor of the renowned Gundel) make it for him. The original recipe used capon instead of chicken.

Ingredients

Yield: 6-8 servings; Total time: 2 hours

  • 1 small chicken, 1 ½ to 2 kilos (3 to 4 pounds), cut up

  • 2 teaspoons salt (more to taste)

  • 10 black peppercorns

  • 1 fresh ginger root (5 cm-long; 2-inches), peeled

  • 2 parsnips, peeled and quartered

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, tied together

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 onion, cut in half (don’t peel)

  • 1 kohlrabi, peeled and quartered

  • 1 small celery root, peeled and quartered 

  • 60 grams (½ cup) green peas

  • 250 grams (2 cups) mushrooms, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces 

  • 2 large carrots, julienned

  • 100 grams (¼ pounds) noodles, ideally snail-shaped (csigatészta) or angel-hair pasta

  • 3.5 liters (3.7 quarts) cold water

Directions

  • Step 1: Place the cleaned chicken parts in a large stockpot filled with 3.5 liters (3.7 quarts) cold water. Bring water to a boil while using a ladle to remove impurities that gather on the surface. Then reduce heat to a gentle simmer and occasionally skim off any scum that still appears on top. 

  • Step 2: Add kohlrabi, parsnip, celery root, parsley, garlic cloves, ginger, peppercorns, and season with salt. Cook uncovered until chicken is very tender, about 1 ½ hours. 

  • Step 3: Using a slotted spoon, remove all vegetables from the liquid and discard (they’ve released their flavor). Remove chicken parts and put aside. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a pot, then return the chicken.

  • Step 4: Add green peas, mushrooms, carrots, and pasta, bring broth to a boil and cook until carrots are fork-tender, about 12 minutes.

  • Step 5: Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve in soup bowls while still hot.

Words of advice

It’s worth using all parts of the chicken (bones, skin, meat) to maximize the soup’s flavor and texture. Also, if you cook the onions with their outer layer on, the liquid will adopt a more appealing, darker hue.

I created these recipes with the help of nearly a dozen historical Hungarian cookbooks, adjusting ingredients, cooking times, and methods to reflect my own preferences and tastes of the current day.