Traditional Hungarian fish soup “Halászlé”

If you ever travel to Hungary, try the famous Hungarian fish soup! 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 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.

The main ingredient is traditional carp and, of course, a good amount of paprika is added to colour the soup bright red. 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

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 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

Hungary's fish soup is bright red and is traditionally prepared with carp. But other fatty fish are also suitable. Try my authentic recipe at home.
5 from 2 votes
Total Time 50 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine Hungarian
Servings 4 Persons
Calories 115 kcal


  • 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!


Serving: 100mlCalories: 115kcal
Keyword Fish, pepper
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Image credits: Unless otherwise stated: ©Angela Darroch, ©Pro Stock Media via or ©

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About Susan 98 Articles
Hi, I am Susan. I love the art of cooking and I love life! Also am keen to inspire you and try out new ways of cooking. Here on My Golden Pear I write about the latest food trends, recipes and share my travel discoveries. As I am German by birth, you will also find many authentic German recipes here. Enjoy!

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