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Cook the beef and the vegetables until all the goodness is sucked out of them. This is Hungarian erőleves or power soup; perhaps a little more than a beef consommé, [I can’t help feeling prejudiced] a double-strength stock clarified into a clear broth. Traditionally made for the very ill and for during recovery. One cup of this soup has the food value of three cups of beef soup. These days erőleves shows up on the menu of better restaurants. In part do to its reputation of requiring a lengthy and somewhat complicated cooking process; it is not favoured by home cooks. Therefore, recipes tend to be scant outlines, often lacking vital information. As it turns out this soup is not that complicated to make. I cooked up my first erőleves this morning for an ailing friend who got home from the hospital yesterday.

For each 1 kilo of extra-lean ground beef use only 1 litre [4 cups] of cold water. Cook it slowly, close to the boiling point for three to four hours. This soup does not require skimming. Apparently you can put a raw egg yolk into the cup when serving, an the idea I did not find tempting.

1 unpeeled onion
1 kg extra lean ground beef
1 large carrot
1 large parsnip
1/2 celery root
1 kohlrabi
stem of 1 broccoli floret [only the stem]
2 egg whites
1 heaping Tbsp tomato paste
4 cups of cold water
salt to taste

• Place an unpeeled onion in a non-stick fry pan and on low medium heat and pan roast it, turning over the onion often.
• Meanwhile wash, peel and chop the rest of the vegetables into uniform sizes.
• Place the ground beef in a medium Dutch pot.
• Add the chopped vegetables.
• With your hands, mix the ground meat and the vegetables, this action separates the ground meat and will help with dispersing the meat in the soup.
• Place the two egg whites in a small bowl and add a heaping Tbsp of tomato puree.
• Slightly whisk the egg whites and the tomato puree to combine.
• Add the egg white mixture to the pot and stir it into the meat vegetable mixture.
• Add four cups of cold water and salt to taste. [If soup is for medicinal purposes, do not add ground pepper]
• Finally add the pan roasted onion and place the pot on medium heat.
• When the soup is close to boiling, reduce the heat and cover the pot.
• Check it a few times to make sure there is a slight cooking action, but the soup is not actually simmering.
• After four hours remove the pot from heat and let it cool slightly.
• Place a sieve over a small pot.
• Take a piece of cheesecloth and dampen it with hot water. Squeeze out the water.
• Drape the damp cheesecloth over the sieve and start ladling the soup into it.
• Press on the vegetables to extract all their juices.
• Discard the meat and the vegetables; believe me no taste or food value remains in them after four hours, other than perhaps some fibre.
• What you have left in the pot is this wonderfully golden consommé.
• To remove the fat droplets, dip in paper napkins and discard napkins.
• Serve the erőleves in extra large mugs.



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