Nowadays, very few people group wine soup with traditional Hungarian Christmas dishes, and a whole generation may have never even had it. However, before the trinity of fish soup, bejgli, and stuffed cabbage, which now dominates the tables during the holidays, wine soup was still the star of Hungarian Christmas.
Translated by Fanni Kaszás
From the mid-1800s until the seventies of the last century, wine soup had a steady, permanent place on the Christmas menu. Originally from the German-speaking world, it is probable that the Swabians who settled in Hungary in the 19th century brought it with them from Germany, and its consumption at Christmas was also a common custom in Austria.
The dish even survived the great phylloxera epidemic of 1875, though this catastrophe destroyed two-thirds of the country’s vineyards and skyrocketed the price of wine. During the world wars, however, the beautiful streak of wine soup was at last broken, as the increasingly poor quality and already scarce wine discouraged many from consuming wine soup. From the 1950s, thanks to the canning industry, canned food gained more and more space. By the time the Hungarian wine industry regrouped, fish soup had completely pushed this otherwise amazing dish into oblivion.
In terms of the proportions of wine soup, it can be found in quite a few variations on the internet. Some people put more wine into it than water. We stuck with the 1:1 proportion. But for sure if you use as many egg yolks as many deciliters of liquid you mix into the soup, and an additional two tablespoons of flour, you cannot get it wrong and will surely get a really creamy, amazing, pudding-like end result.
You can even make foam dumpling as a topping or soup, just like the one used for the dessert floating island (madártej), but the meringue or meringue ring, which are very common decorations and desserts at Christmas, are also perfect for this purpose, and if you like it, you can also add some raisins to the soup.
– ingredients for 2 people –
- 2 dl water
- 2 dl wine
- 4 egg yolks
- 4-6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- juice of half a lemon
First, boil the water in a pan with the wine, lemon juice, sugar and spices. You can add as much sugar and spices as you like and what you think is necessary. If you don’t want your alcohol content to go away quickly, stop heating before the mix boils and set aside to cool down a bit. If you used the spices whole, take them out.
Then prepare the thickening agent: stir the flour with the egg yolks until it becomes smooth, and once the wine mixture has cooled down a bit, add the eggs in smaller portions, stirring constantly. After you added the thickening agent, reheat the whole mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens. Pay attention not to boil it, because then the egg may precipitate. After it is ready, serve immediately with the decorative and flavoring elements mentioned above, when it is still hot.
Photos and featured photo: Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today