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A Food Everyone Either Loves or Hates: Squash Stew – With Recipe!

Adrienn Vass 2020.07.31.

Perhaps we cannot find a more divisive food in Hungary than squash stew, and the reason for this is mostly the bad childhood memories from the school canteen and of course the dill, which is also a love or hate herb. However, when well-prepared, squash soup is one of the most special traditional Hungarian dishes. 

Vegetable stews first appeared sometime in the 16th century, although at that time they were still very far from their present form. It was mostly consumed by poorer people, by itself, then only thickened with vegetables. Stews made from pumpkin and squash were the first of their kind to be made with roux, a thickening agent for soups and sauces, which came from the Austrians. Squash soup is mainly thickened with flour and cream.

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However, the different vegetable stews were prepared with different thickening agents, which in the post-World War I food shortages also changed the recipe of squash stew as well. It was also the time when squash stew – among other vegetable stews – started to play a really important role in public catering, as it proved to be a nutritious food made from very cheap ingredients.

photo: Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today

In addition, it can be eaten with almost any topping, especially because squash itself has a soft, neutral taste, so it can work with  any starker taste. This is exactly why dill came into the picture, which in turn produces a very characteristic, aggressive taste that can dominate almost anything, plus it also ripens the same time as squash.

Thus, squash and dill have become a power duo that is now inseparable for most Hungarians – for which there is no better proof than that it is almost impossible to find a package of shredded squash in stores that doesn’t contain a pack of dill.

photo: Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today

Squash stew
–  ingredients –

  • 1 medium red onion
  • a bouquet of dill
  • 3 dkg butter
  • 1 kilogram of shredded squash
  • 1.5 dl of water
  • 1.5 dl of milk
  • 1.5 dl sour cream
  • 1.5 tablespoons fine flour
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, chop the onion and dill. Then melt the butter and add the finely chopped onion, then simmer it. Add half of the dill to it, then stir the mix for 1-2 minutes on low heat. Then add the shredded squash and pour the milk and water over it. Add the salt and pepper, then stir it and cook the stew covered for 15 minutes. Mix the flour with the sour cream in a separate bowl and then add a tablespoon to it from the juice of the vegetables. Stir until it becomes smooth and then pour it back into the stew base. Before removing it from the heat, add the vinegar and the other half of the dill.

Translated by Fanni Kaszás

featured photo: Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today