Lecho is our favourite traditional Hungarian stew featuring tomatoes, red bell peppers and smoky pork kielbasa sausage.
The popular summer recipe is beloved by locals, from bustling Budapest to rural Hungarian villages.
The colourful Hungarian vegetable stew combines three of Hungary’s favourite ingredients: peppers, tomatoes and paprika. The versatile dish can be served as a side dish, appetizer or even the main meal itself.
We suggest serving this easy Lecho recipe with slices of crusty sourdough bread for dipping.
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What Is Hungarian Lecho?
Our Lecho recipe features many of Hungary’s most popular ingredients like onions, tomatoes, red bell peppers, paprika and smoked sausage.
The dish is very versatile. It can be served for vegans or vegetarians by omitting the sausage and substituting vegetable stock. It can be served at breakfast with fried eggs or as a light lunch or dinner with roasted potatoes and a few slices of fresh sourdough bread.
It can be served hot or cold. We traditionally serve the dish hot the day it is made but enjoy leftovers cold or at room temperature for breakfast or brunch the following day.
Travel to Hungary by Cooking Lecho Stew at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland,Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
I visited Hungary on my first trip to Europe. I backpacked to 18 European countries in the summer of my third year of university. I was living on a shoestring, sleeping in friendly hostels and eating my way from the stunning sunsets of the Portuguese Algarve to scenic fjords on the west coast of Norway.
I spent 4 days exploring Budapest, the Hungarian capital. The two scenic cities (Buda and Pest) straddle the Danube River and offer visiting foodies gorgeous architecture, scenic views, bustling markets and friendly and affordable restaurants.
No trip to the capital is complete without a visit to the Budapest Central Market. Lecho lovers will find endless market stalls selling strings of dried red peppers that dangle over your head like Christmas garlands. You can also purchase sweet Hungarian paprika to take home and use to cook this authentic Lecho recipe!
Where To Eat Traditional Lecho
Haven’t traveled to Europe before? It may be helpful to first sample Lecho at a local Hungarian restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can determine the ideal portion size, perfect sausage to vegetable ratio and other dishes to serve at the table.
In Toronto, popular Eastern European restaurants in Yorkville, King West and Ossington that may serve Hungarian Lecho Stew include Cafe Polonez, Wvrst, Country Style Hungarian, Tennessee Tavern, Amber European and Chopin.
My Family Loves This Easy Lecho Recipe
I introduced my family to this Lecho recipe on a hot summer day on Lake of Bays and it became an instant hit. We were on a health kick that week, enjoying al fresco feasts featuring a buffet of nutritious salads and sliced sourdough bread.
I knew my family would love Lecho because they enjoy eating fresh vegetables, flavourful stews and smoked sausage.
While you can cook Lecho year round, the colourful Hungarian stew is traditionally prepared in the summer months when fresh tomatoes and peppers are in season. If you have leftovers they keep really well in the freezer so feel free to double or triple the recipe to enjoy throughout the year.
While the dish is often served as a hot side dish or even a main course (with either egg or sausage incorporated into the recipe) leftovers stored in the fridge can be enjoyed the next day as a cold salad.
Our Lecho recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Rich in a group of phytochemicals called carotenoids, tomatoes may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and provide protection against cancer. Tomatoes are also a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C.
Bell Peppers are an incredible source of vitamins C and A, which support your skin and immune system. They also provide beneficial carotenoid compounds such as beta-carotene, which has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Paprika is rich in vitamin A, capsaicin, and carotenoid antioxidants. These substances may help prevent inflammation and improve your cholesterol, eye health and blood sugar levels.
Pork is an excellent source of protein and provides several important vitamins and minerals. It’s an excellent source of thiamin, selenium, niacin, vitamin B-6 and phosphorus, zinc, riboflavin and potassium.
An excellent source of vitamin K, as well as vitamin C, folate, and iron, parsley helps keep your bones and blood healthy, and protects your skin from damage by free radicals.
Hungarian Lecho Cooking Tips
This authentic Hungarian Vegetable Stew is quick and easy to make at home.
- We suggest using a large nonstick skillet to reduce splatter when cooking.
- Use a neutral vegetable oil like canola.
- We’ve used Spanish cooking onions in this recipe but you could substitue for sweet Vidalia onions, white onions or shallots.
- We’ve used sweet Roma tomatoes in this recipe but you could substitute for beefsteak tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.
- We’ve used red bell peppers in this recipe but you can use an assortment of red, orange and yellow sweet peppers. The variety will make the dish really eye popping.
- Use high quality Hungarian Sweet Paprika in this recipe, not smoked paprika!
- We’ve added Kielbasa smoked sausage to the recipe but you can omit it if you want to make a vegetarian or vegan version.
- You can add 1/4 cup of cooked rice to make a heartier dish, or toward the end of the cooking time add 4 beaten eggs and mix in for a brilliant brunch idea.
What To Serve with Hungarian Tomato Pepper Stew
There’s nothing more comforting than cozying up to a steaming bowl of Hungarian Tomato Pepper Stew.
Hungarian lecho is typically served as a hot side dish or cold salad. For lunch or dinner serve it as a main course with roast potatoes and slices of crusty bread.
At brunch spoon the cold stew onto a plate with crispy bacon, eggs and toast for a hearty morning meal.
You May Also Enjoy These German & Eastern European Recipes….
- Polish Dill Pickle Soup
- Polish Sour Rye Zurek Soup
- Mizeria Creamy Polish Cucumber Salad
- Homemade Pierogies
- Speckknödel German Bread Bacon Dumplings
- Romanian Soup Ciorba de Perisoare
- Kartoffelknödel German Potato Dumplings
- Pork Rouladen
- Flädlesuppe German Pancake Soup
How To Make Hungarian Lecho Tomato Red Pepper Stew
Lecho Hungarian Tomato Red Pepper Stew
- French knife
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Large Skillet
- 3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 2 Spanish Onions cut in half and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp Sweet Paprika
- 5 Red Bell Peppers seeded, cut into thick strips
- 3 Plum Tomatoes finely chopped
- 2 tsp Tomato Paste
- 1 cup Kielbasa Smoked Sausage cubed
- 1/3 cup Chicken Broth
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/8 tsp White Sugar
- 1 tbsp Parsley chopped
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened but not coloured, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the paprika and toss with the onions.
- Add the peppers and continue to saute, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Do not allow the vegetables to brown.
- Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, kielbasa, salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer the peppers until very tender, about 30-35 minutes.
- Off the heat, stir in the vinegar and sugar and allow the mixture to cool.
- Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold garnished with chopped parsley.
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