Goulash Soup; tripping down the primrose path

Yeah, yeah…..

I know that ‘Goulash’ is not soup.

It’s also not an American-style ‘hot dish’ made with ‘hamburger, condensed tomato soup and Creamettes Elbow Macaroni’.

But, apparently I’ve been wrong a lot lately….. What’s once more?

Besides, I’ve seen recipes for ‘Vegetarian Cassoulet’ (aka: Baked Beans) so I can call this Goulash Soup.

But I really shouldn’t be calling my puppies shithouses.

I know that my French could not remotely, by even the most polite person, ever be called anything but abysmal.

I didn’t, however, think that I was torturing it almost beyond recognition.

There are the simple things, like these two challenges: 

  • au-dessous, meaning underneath or below
  • au-dessus, meaning above

There is one letter difference between the two, and to the non-native French speaker, a microscopic, almost undetectable difference in pronunciation.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve entertained many a French person by trying to pronounce the two correctly – and waving my arms frantically when whatever was meant to be ‘above’ was ‘below’.  

I’ve also set a group of school children into fits of laughter by pronouncing ‘ordinateur’ or computer.  I should know this one, right?

I thought I did – actually, as recently as yesterday I thought I did.  

Apparently, I’m still not getting it right.

I realized, not too long ago, that rather than responding humbly, and grateful for the compliment, when the occasional French person told me that I speak very well, I was, very likely, coming off as an arrogant expat.

I was saying, or was intending to say: Thank you, I try.

But, if I mispronounced it just the teeniest bit it was: Thank you, I know.

Big difference.

The latest is that I’ve been referring to the puppies as ‘shithouses’.

Not that they don’t sometimes deserve that moniker, but it was not my intent to tell the nice lady that delivers the post about my ‘shithouses’.

A puppy, you see is ‘chiot’, pronounced (I think) ‘shyo’.

I have 2 puppies, and they’re girls, so I was pronouncing the ‘t’ thinking that would make the word female, plural.

Like the word for dog – chien, pronounced she-e(n) becomes chiennes, pronounced she-en when referring to females.

I was saying ‘shyot’.

Which is, in fact, chiotte, a vulgar term for toilet, or outhouse or shithouse, depending on which dictionary you look at.

Regardless of the actual definition, it’s not a term used in polite society.

I don’t even want to know what other things I’ve been blithely saying to people, utterly clueless of what was actually coming out of my mouth.

Actually, it’s probably best to be clueless…..

This soup, on the other hand, was absolutely spot on!

Goulash Soup
Goulash Soup

12oz (350gr) ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 potatoes, cut into chunks
15oz (450gr) whole tomatoes, chopped
2 cups (16oz, 480gr) tomato juice
3 cups (24oz, 720gr) beef stock
3 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tbs olive oil


Heat oil in a small soup pot.  Add paprika, chili powder and caraway, sauté for 1 minute. Add onion, pepper, garlic and sauté until tender.  Add beef and brown, beaking it up as it cooks.  When beef is brown, add all remaining ingredients, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. 

Add hotter peppers or hot sauce as desired…. We all know I’m a wimp.

Apparently I’m a wimp who can’t speak.

11 thoughts on “Goulash Soup; tripping down the primrose path”

  1. Yes vocab can make life amusing !! When my daughter was working in the snowfields in Japan with small children she would ask them to put their arms in the air so she could take their ski vests off – this was met with total blankness every day till she became aware that she was asking them to put their arms out to be handcuffed !!!!!

  2. I think French and Swahili are two of the most beautiful languages. I regret not keeping up with the former and fondly remember the rhythmic and musical cadences of the latter.

  3. Jayne, I was so embarrassed when I finally realized what I was saying.
    Dan, always glad to entertain…..
    manningroad, I do wonder what other things I am saying….
    Gary, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Swahili…. But I agree about French (just not out of my mouth)
    Val, somewhat…. I’m glad I can now call them dogs….

  4. Long time lurker, first time poster 🙂 I’ve made so many of your recipes and think they’re great!
    I had to comment on “J’essaie” vs. “Je sais” though–hilarious! Maybe a better alternative would be “Merci, je fais mon mieux”?

  5. Rachel, thanks – much better (and safer) phrase. It took a look of total surprise on someone’s face before I realized the problem… I explained, of course.
    They laughed (I think). Thank you for your kind words.

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