Goulash soup

Goulash soup recipe on eatlivetravelwrite.comThis post is sponsored by Gay Lea.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I teach French at an all-boys school in Toronto.  When I tell people that I only teach boys, many wonder what this is like. Many think I am crazy too! I can tell you that it’s definitely not a job for everyone – going into my first year, I knew that it would either be a job for years or, well, not. I’m now in my twelfth year teaching there and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Certainly, teaching boys-only requires a different approach, a different energy than teaching in a co-ed environment but I maintain that I’m a better teacher for this experience. Often, when I read job descriptions for other, non-teaching jobs, I think I’m lucky because I practice so many different skills every day in my job that many people wouldn’t necessarily associate with teaching Thinking on my toes? Check. Flexibility? Check. Negotiation skills? Check. Learning how to compromise? Check. I could go on and on!

Goulash soup on eatlivetravelwrite.comMany of you will also know that alongside French, I have been lucky enough to teach the boys cooking in after school clubs for the past seven years (you can read about one of those clubs, Les Petits Chefs, here) and, in a way, it has totally transformed my teaching too.  Getting to know the boys in a non-academic environment (outside the classroom) has been the key to better, in-class relationships (and better attitudes towards French in some cases!). It’s wonderful to see boys come to cooking club and, in most cases, absolutely shine in this area. Boys for whom French might not exactly be their favorite subject, boys who find French hard (it IS hard!), boys who learn by doing – cooking offers them a way to show me a different side of themselves as learners and I couldn’t be more happy that I get to see this.

As well as noticing how much I am benefiting from interacting with the boys on a different level through cooking club, over the years, one thing that I have noticed is the rise in allergies and food intolerances I’m seeing. When I first started the club in 2010, I had the occasional peanut allergy. Over recent years, I’ve seen all sorts of different and new-to-me allergies that have really kept ME on my toes as the person who shops for the ingredients each week. I spend an inordinate amount of time shopping for ingredients, reading labels, corresponding with the parents about this or that ingredient and it’s been a really interesting experience (and educational for me too!).

But this hasn’t just been an educational experience for me – I always talk to the boys about any different ingredients we have used and why. As an educator, it’s my job to prepare the boys for life in the real world and as my goal is that they leave school with some notion of cooking, many of them with intolerances and allergies really need to be aware of the foods they can and can’t eat/ use in cooking. Last term we had a gluten and dairy intolerance in my younger students’ club, Cooking Basics, and while, for the most part the gluten issue didn’t impact the recipes we were making, trying to limit dairy seemed a little challenging (and I really felt for the boy – I certainly could not live without my French cheese fill when I am there over the holidays!). In a number of recipes (mac and cheese, chili, fajitas, curry) we came across some form of dairy product – often in the form of Greek yoghurt – but in consulting with the boy’s mum, I learned that a lactose free sour cream would definitely work.  As such, GayLea lactose-free sour cream made its way into my fridge and the fridge at school and has a pretty much permanent place there.  It’s lovely and thick (not fat-free) and, as one boy said, “it just tastes normal”. Perfect!

Goulash soup topped with GayLea lactose-free sour cream on eatlivetravelwrite.comFor this month’s Gay Lea recipe, I’ve chosen to make a soup that uses pantry and fridge staples (including that lactose-free sour cream). As it’s chilly outside and dark when I leave work each day, I’m not a huge fan of shopping daily like I am in in the warmer weather, so having a pot of soup either ready to make (since I already have the ingredients) or ready to eat is my idea of a perfect dinner – no shopping and hardly any prep!   This soup is a family favourite (from my mum’s recipe binder) and it’s the type of recipe I love to teach the boys too – real food that is simple to make and nourishing. You don’t get much better than that! The sour cream adds a, well, creaminess to the soup and, for kids, tones down the paprika, while the green onions add a nice crunch and some freshness.

Yield: 6-8

Goulash soup

Goulash soup

Easy, comforting soup that uses fridge and pantry staples.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions (300g total), halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika powder
  • 454g (1lb) ground beef OR a mix of ground beef and pork
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large potato (300g), peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  • 1 can (796mls) diced tomatoes, and their juices
  • 500mls (2 cups) beef stock
  • To serve:
  • Gay Lea lactose-free sour cream
  • green onions, sliced finely


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the onions and garlic until they are just starting to colour (approx 5 minutes), stirring constantly.
  3. Add the paprika and stir to coat the onions evenly. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the ground beef gradually, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cook until it's browned.
  5. Add the salt and pepper and the potato and stir to combine.
  6. Add the tomatoes and stock and bring the mix to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer for 20 minutes until the potato is soft.
  8. Serve the soup topped with sour cream and the green onions.

did you make this recipe?

please leave a comment or review on the blog or share a photo and tag me on Instagram @eatlivtravwrite !

Bowl of Goulash soup topped with GayLea lactose-free sour cream on eatlivetravelwrite.comWhat about you? Is there a “free-from” ingredient that has somehow made its way into your house even if you don’t need to avoid it?


Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Gay Lea, and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. As always, opinions expressed here are my own and I only write about/ recommend products I use and love. If you know me in real life or follow me on social media, you’ll know that writing a French food cookbook requires ridiculous amounts of butter so this campaign is a perfect fit 😉


13 thoughts on “Goulash soup”

  1. With a name like “Goulash soup” and being from your Mom’s recipe binder looks and sounds lovely. The pictures look amazing.
    I have never used ground beef in a soup but as I’m from NL having Goulash was a constant staple on the table. Going to give this recipe a try.

  2. Mardi,
    Thanks for sharing your family recipe. Although we try to stay away from red meat for health reasons, I am going to try this. It sounds delectable.
    I enjoyed your description of teaching boys to cook. Many years ago, I somehow managed to put a home cooked meal on the table night despite working full time at a rather demanding job. Sometimes it came from the freezer, but it was always home cooked.
    Our son never cooked with me, nor did he show any interest in cooking. He did enjoy eating the meals as did my husband. Every night we would all sit down to eat…sans TV. What i did not realize was that he was observing and taking it all in.
    After he graduated from college and moved away, I would get frantic phone calls asking how long to cook lamb chops, Can you substitute dried basil for fresh (NO!) etc., etc. He was cooking for his dates. So,for him, the art of cooking became the art of seduction.
    Fast forward to 2017…he is now 43, an attorney with a wife who is also an attorney and two young children(6 and 3). He does most of the cooking for the family. It is a source of relaxation for him.On the weekends he cooks for the week. Every night the four of them sit down to a home cooked meal sans TV or any digital devices. Not only to they eat well, they also function better as a family. As a mother, this is my proudest accomplishment.
    Cooking is more than cooking, It is a way of life that results in a better life for the cook and those that he or she feed. As you found out…boys can cook.

    • This is honestly one of the loveliest comments anyone’s even left on my site. Thank you for taking the time to write it. It really gives me hope that even my “drop in the ocean” type interaction with the boys will make a difference somewhere along the line of their adult lives. I can see why you are a proud mum – you were a great role model for your son and in turn, he and his wife are great role models for their children. Brava!

  3. Ok Mardi, now I need to know how a Hungarian recipe got into your mom’s binder. Anyhow, as a Hungarian it caught my attention. I have never made this soup with ground meat, so it’s printed and will make it to my table one day soon! Looks good – and, for sure there must be sour cream. When I was little I used to eat sour cream by the spoonful every chance I could get! Hugs, from Diane @ Kitchen Bliss

  4. I could totally go for a bowl of this goulash right about now. It looks so hearty and comforting… just the thing for a miserably cold, windy night like this!
    I’m very excited to see so many new lactose-free dairy products on the market. My mother has a pretty bad lactose intolerance, and making dairy-based soups and desserts can be tricky. She’ll be tickled pink to have a sour cream she can safely dollop onto her chili.
    PS: I know I say it all the time, but it really bears repeating… your posts about Les Petits Chefs are always a favourite of mine. It’s awesome to know these boys are leaving your classroom armed with all the skills and knowledge they need to cook fresh, healthy meals at home.

    • This soup is the business for this weather, for sure. ANd yes to having much more choice with “free-from” products than even a few years ago. And, thanks re: the boys. You know how much I love my work there!

  5. My Mom made goulash all the time. Sometimes with potatoes, other times she used noodles. I grew up on this stuff and it always makes my heart happy when I see recipes for it online. Goulash is such a classic. Love yours and can’t wait to try it. It’s gorgeous.

    My kids went to French immersion school. I can’t speak a lick of it anymore but I was determined they be bilingual. My daughter hated it growing up but she’s now getting her degree in languages. She’s an official polyglot and I could not be happier about it. Funny how things turn out. I love that you teach all boys and that you teach them to cook. So important.

    • Oh I like the idea of this with noodles – must try! Good for you raising a bilingual daughter – not easy and I know sometimes not popular with kids but so worth it in the long run!

  6. What a great post! I loved reading it. And that soup looks wonderful too; just the type of thing my family likes to eat. I will be trying this one for sure!


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