Traditional Hungarian fish soup “Halászlé”

If you ever travel to Hungary, try the famous Hungarian fish soup Halászlé! It is one of the most popular Hungarian appetizers. It is made from freshwater fish, as Hungary has no access to the sea but many standing waters. Try this authentic and healthy recipe now.

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Fish soup in Hungary

Although this particular fish soup always tastes wonderful in Hungary, it can take some getting used to there. Sometimes there are a lot of bones floating in the soup – which you can avoid if you prepare this dish at home.

In this Hungarian fisherman’s soup, the main ingredient is traditional carp and, of course, a good amount of paprika is added to colour the soup bright red. Halászlé is famous for its flaming red color. But you can also use other fatty fish.

If you prefer a bound soup, just cook one or two potatoes along with the rest of the soup’s ingredients. These provide a nice binding.

Hungarians like their fish soup spicy with a lot of red pepper

Hungarian Paprika

Hungarian paprika powder made from dried paprika pods is appreciated all over the world for its quality. You can buy it in different degrees of spiciness.

There is sweet paprika powder and hot paprika. Choose your variety according to your preference.

You can also use smoked paprika, but then reduce the amount given in the recipe, because it tastes more intense.

What kind of fish for the basic broth?

As for any fish soup, you can take different kinds of fish for your fish broth. Traditionally, either many small fish, fish heads, bones and the tail are taken for this.

After the broth is cooked, the pieces are discarded, they are not suitable for eating. However, they give the broth a nice strong taste. Add some fresh fish filets to serve it with.

Fish broth

Fish to add to the Halászlé soup before serving

Try these kinds of fish for a perfect taste:

  • White fish with a firm meat, as halibut or cod
  • Red snapper
  • Tilapia

Also try our other soup recipes: Creamy Carrot and Ginger Soup, Grandma’s meaty cheese and leek soup or Courgette And Brie Soup.

Hungarian fish soup

Traditional Hungarian fish soup “Halászlé”

Hungary's fish soup Halászlé is bright red and is traditionally prepared with carp. Try our authentic hungarian fisherman's soup recipe at home.
4.91 from 11 votes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 Persons
Calories 115


  • Big cooking pot


  • 500 g fish pieces or fish carcasses
  • 500 g white fish firm, originally carp, but any other fish will do
  • 2 onions
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 tomatoes big, or 3 medium sized
  • 1 carrot big
  • 100 g celery
  • 1 tbsp paprika powder Hungarian
  • 100 ml white wine dry, optional
  • salt


  • Clean the fish or pieces of fish, skin and quarter the tomatoes, cut the peppers and onions into rings. Peel celery and carrot and cut into pieces. Put everything in a pot and cover with water. Cook on a low heat for 30 minutes.
  • Then drain the broth through a sieve. Do not eat the small fish or fish remains, but discard them.
    Add a litre of water and the white wine and bring to the boil again. Then season with salt and paprika. The soup should have a nice red colour.
  • Cut the carp filet into eight thick slices and place them in the fish broth. Let it simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes at a low temperature. Do not stir the broth, just gently move the fish pieces from time to time.
  • If you like it spicy, you can make this soup even more fiery with cherry peppers or hot peppers.
  • Serve with rustic bread. Enjoy your meal!
Keyword Fish, pepper
Tried this recipe?Mention @mygoldenpearfood or tag #mygoldenpear!
Author: Susan Queck
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One Comment

  1. Thanks for the recipe. It worked out pretty well. I had opportunity to have Hungarian fish soup in Hungary and your recipe helped to feel like I was in Hungary again. I slightly modified the recipe adding a bit of garlic at the beginning and then one lemon juice and it was delicious. All the best. Mariusz