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Lecsó - Hungarian tomato & pepper stew

Easy, tasty, versatile and cheap - I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like lecsó.

By definition, lecsó is a thick vegetable stew or ragout that contains sweet Hungarian peppers, tomatoes, onions and paprika, which are harvested in the late summer or early autumn. However, there are probably hundreds of ways of making this Hungarian staple, and as such, I imagine every family has a variation of their own. For that matter, it is super easy to make it #vegetarian or #vegan (swap sausages with eggs or leave out completely) or #glutenfree (swap couscous with rice or omit).

My mom usually makes lecsó with eggs (in Serbian this is called sataraš) for breakfast or lunch. Other times, she likes to cook a more hearty stew and adds in slices of dried sausage while she fries the onions. But my absolute favourite is when she makes them with store bought pearl couscous (Hungarian: tarhonya, Bunjevac: tarana). And if you want to go full Hungarian, I suggest enjoying this dish with a big slice of soft, white bread. :)

I have perfected the below recipe during my university years away from home (broke & hungry student alert) and have been making it this way ever since. I like to make big batches that last a couple of days, and since lecsó freezes well, it’s perfect for stocking seasonal meals for the winter.



500 g tomatoes (5)

375 g red, pointy peppers (4)

300 g yellow onions, medium sized (4)

3-4 cloves of garlic

360 g spicy smoked sausages (frankfurters work too)

2 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1,5 bouillon cube

1 l water

300 g tarhonya (a.k.a. israeli couscous, perlecouscous)


Start by washing and chopping all vegetables and the sausages. Dissolve bouillon cube in about 1 l boiling water.

Blanche onions and garlic on oil on high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add in chopped peppers and cook until peppers become a bit soft. Add in the tomatoes, sugar, salt & pepper and remove from the heat to add smoked paprika. Pour in the bouillon stock, add couscous, mix well and continue cooking on medium heat until tomatoes have fallen apart. I prefer a thicker lecsó so I usually cook the stew without a lid, until the couscous has absorbed most of the liquid. Adjust seasoning with more salt or pepper if needed. If desired, you can balance out the acidity of the tomatoes by adding a bit more sugar.

When the couscous is almost al dente, add the sausage rings and cook for another 10 minutes.

Et voilà! :)

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm Julia, a recent PhD graduate in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology who now works as a Medical Writer in Scientific Communication. I was born in Subotica (SRB) and am currently based in Copenhagen (DK). 

I'm passionate about experimenting in my kitchen and all about turning family recipes into stories.

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