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Fisherman Soup (Halászlé)

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Adjust Servings:
500 g Basa or catfish fillets diced
500 g carp gutted and scales removed
4 pcs onions chopped
4 tablespoons Tomato puree
4 tablespoons paprika
150 ml Wine
2 tablespoons Salt
100 ml Oil
to taste Black pepper

Fisherman Soup (Halászlé)

  • Spicy

Fisherman Soup (Halászlé) is a spicy Hungarian traditional dish, made of river fish and seasoned with paprika.

  • 75
  • Serves 4
  • Easy




Fisherman Soup (Halászlé) is a Hungarian traditional dish. It is a tasty and spicy soup made of river fish and seasoned with paprika. Recipe for fisherman soup is quite simple and awesomely easy to make.

Sometimes, in English translation, you can find it under the name Hungarian fish soup or fisherman stew.

How to Make Fisherman Soup

Since this is a traditional dish, there are countless different recipes. However, the main ingredients are always fish, paprika and onions. Depending on the region, some more spices are added, but these three ingredients are essential.

The trademark of this dish is carp, but other types of fish are also used, such as catfish, pike, perch. Since the Hungarians have no sea, they turned to river fish and became grandmasters for saving fish from rivers.

Another important ingredient is quality paprika, hot and normal. Therefore, it is common that fisherman soup is a bit spicy, and sometimes it can be very spicy. In case you did not know, paprika was invented in Hungary. You can read an interesting story about paprika in my post – The History of Pepper.

The third part important for an excellent Fisherman soup is onion, which should be as old and mature as possible.

Regional Fisherman Soup Recipes

The way this dish is cooked largely depends on the region. It is generally believed that there are 3 basic types of making this dish.

  • The first one is Balatonian, and as its name suggests, you can find it around Lake Balaton. Its characteristic is the use of more spices and a lot of vegetables, such as carrots, celery, parsnips, etc. Compared to the other two stews, it gives it a taste of a “lighter stew”.
  • The second is Szegedian, ie around the river Tisza. Its focus is on fish meat and cooking is a bit more complex, because first, you need to prepare and strain the broth. With this principle, everything is subordinated to the fish and its quality. The principle is that the more fish the better. Usually, it is made of carp, catfish, pike, perch or even sturgeon. This way of cooking became Hungarikum.
  • The third, Danube way, which is cooked around Baja and downstream, on both sides of the Danube bank. This way of preparation is known all the way to Bogojevo in Vojvodina, or Dalj in Croatia. For these recipes, the most important is soup itself. Everything is subordinated to it and is usually made of carp and sometimes with the addition of catfish. The preparation is much simpler, and it is usually served with homemade noodles called gyufatészta.

Where You Can Find It?

Fisherman soup is immensely popular especially in the southern parts of Hungary. Very often there you can find local competitions in cooking, which sometimes have hundreds of competitors.

Fisherman soup can also be found in other cuisines of neighbouring countries. Let’s just mention Fiš Paprikash in Croatia and Riblja Corba in Serbia.

I got this recipe for fisherman soup at one of the local competitions when I was a guest. Although not among the winners, I am thrilled with this recipe. I must admit it is one of my favourite dishes I recommend everybody to try.



Peel onions and chop it in a blender. Heat the oil in a large cooking pot and sauté the onion until it turns yellow.


While the onion is simmering, take a large bowl, mix the paprika, tomato puree, salt and pepper. Pour 500 ml of warm water over everything and stir well so that there are no lumps.


When the onion is done, add the mixture to the cooking pot, and add another 2 litres of water. Bring to boil, and simmer for another 30 minutes.


While this is cooking, cut the carp into slices and the catfish fillets into larger chunks. When the soup is cooked, add the fish and bring it to boil for another 10-15 minutes. At the end add 150 ml of wine, and cook for another 5 minutes.


If you like, you can add more salt and season with hot peppers.


Serve the fisherman soup in deep bowls with wide noodles and cooked fish.

Ivan Majhen

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