From the Author
I was born in Chicago in 1934. My Mother, Father and Grandmother, cooked Hungarian and Transylvania dishes. The recipes I have published as June Meyer's Authentic Hungarian Heirloom Recipes are just that. The recipes are descended from a long line of my ancestors, passed down from one generation to the next. They were never written down. I learned to make them by example. When I married, I continued to cook the cuisine I knew and loved. I love to cook, and I enjoy cooking and eating many different ethnic foods. But there is something spiritual and comforting about cooking and baking foods that your ancestors loved and thrived on. A lot of these recipes have their origin in Austria-Hungary. They are peasant dishes which took advantage of the bounty of the land, requiring slow cooking while the farmers worked in the fields. The cuisine is exceptionally flavorful and unforgettable. My ancestors were German settlers who traveled to Hungary from Swabia in the 1700's. I do not carry Hungarian blood, but I like to think I do, because of the strong bond formed by a lifetime of cooking and eating Hungarian foods. The first lullaby I heard as a baby was a Hungarian one. The dance I loved was a Hungarian one. I used to think that my ancestral heritage was Hungarian because we cooked, baked and ate only Hungarian foods.
Excerpted from June Meyer's Authentic Hungarian Heirloom Recipes by June V. Meyer and Aaron D. Meyer. Copyright © 1998. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
From Soups and Dumplings:
Authentic Hungarian Split Pea Soup (Sargaborsoleves) Hungarian pea soup is so thick and hearty you can spoon it up like a porridge. Sweet and flavorful, I have tasted many other pea soups, but this family recipe is most satisfying and memorable. This soup or porridge is full of sweet carrots, parsnips and parsley leaves and roots, onions, yellow peas and ham. Winter and spring were always the times to make hearty pea soups. All the dried peas stored from the previous harvest were dwindling in number and the stored carrots, parsnips and parsley root were becoming sweet as they lost moisture in the root bin. As a child I can remember dreading having to go down into the root cellar which was cold and dark, and full of spider webs, to collect the roots for peas soup. My father had dug out the root cellar under our house in a neighborhood of Chicago bungalows that was built right after the Chicago Fire. It was inconceivable to any European immigrant not to have a dark, cold place to store food. In Europe there was no refrigeration. The root cellar under the house or the bubbling spring house if you were lucky to have one were the only cool places to store food in summer. The root cellar never froze in winter. Besides, roots and potatoes, we stored bushels of apples, squash, onions, crocks of sauerkraut, and home canned food and dried smoked Hungarian sausage.
- 1 lb. of split yellow peas
- 1 small ham shank or smoked pork butt
- 1 large onion chopped
- 4 med. carrots sliced
- 3 ribs of celery
- 1 parsley root diced
- 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 parsnip root diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 whole cloves
- 6 whole peppercorns
- 3 quarts of water
- 1/4 cup of pearl barley -optional-
Wash and drain yellow peas and place in soup pot with 3 quarts of cold water. Add ham or pork butt, along with vegetables and spices and optional barley.
Bring water to a boil, turn down heat and slowly cook until all veggies and peas are soft.
Taste for seasoning, and now add required salt. (Ham and pork butt are salty, do not add salt at the beginning of cooking).
Cooking will take about an hour and a half. If the soup is not as thick as you like it, cook it a little longer. The soup should be thick, like a peas porridge.
Serve in a large bowl with a slice of ham or pork butt in each serving. Add a crusty bread and salad for a satisfying one dish meal.
Makes 6 servings.