Christmas wine soup
10th December 2009

Christmas wine soup

By Kate Photography by Adam

As promised, Balint has provided us with two traditional Hungarian Christmas recipes this month; Christmas wine soup and Poppy seed bread pudding (Mákos guba). For those of you who don’t know, Balint is our technical writer and he has shared with us previously his beautiful photographs and story ‘Eating tour of Hungary’.

“When I think of Christmas traditions, my mind sifts through childhood memories of rituals that always defined the ‘script’ of Christmas Eve in my family: decorating the tree, waiting for baby Jesus (a.k.a. Mum or Dad) to ring a tiny bell announcing his presence, handing over and enjoying the presents, sitting down to dinner, then half-watching obligatory TV reruns of well-worn family favourites and deciding to skip Midnight Mass just this year—it’s too cold to walk!

“But I also think of the less obvious, yet equally important—and often more fun—shared activities that assumed tradition status over time: the collective untangling of the string of Christmas lights (punctuated by accusations of suspects for putting it away like that in January), identifying the snuffed-out bulb that’s stopping all the rest from lighting up (never failed to try everyone’s patience and remind us of the blessings of series circuits), secretly grazing on chocolate decorations and skilfully folding the empty wrappers back in place to pretend they hadn’t been touched (and to dupe the next grazer)… and, perhaps most important of all, generally worrying about the Food. Will it be enough? It was always too much. Do we have all the ingredients? Well, most recipes weren’t compromised by some minor adjustments. Will everyone like the menu? Of course they did. So a short-lived, heavenly calm descended on everyone only when the last dessert fork and folded napkin was in place, and all the food-laden containers were waiting to be served from.

“And what would those serving platters and fancy soup bowls have on offer? A typical main course would feature fillets of carp fried in breadcrumbs with a side dish of potato and celeriac salad. And as for starter and dessert? See the recipes that follow, and have a very merry Christmas!

“While ‘savoury’ soups are just as popular in Hungary as anywhere else, it is also quite common to be served a bowl of cold, sweet (most often fruit-based) soup as a first course, typically in summer. There’s morello cherry soup, apple soup, strawberry soup… and the list continues. At Christmas time, when no fresh fruit is in season, a classic sweet soup is one based on mulled wine. It is often served hot, and the alcohol content makes all cheeks glow with warmth. While it is perfectly suited to a Northern hemisphere winter, the cold version below may be preferable in the middle of a Kiwi summer. Enjoy, but do not overindulge!”


Serves 4
  • --
  • 650ml off-dry or semi-sweet, ‘fruity’ white wine (e.g. pinot gris, riesling, gewurztraminer)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200ml cream
  • To serve:
  • whipped cream
  • a few sultanas


  • --
  • 1. Grate the zest off the lemon, then squeeze out the juice.
  • 2. Pour the wine into a saucepan, then add 300 ml water, the lemon juice, grated zest, cinnamon, and cloves. Bring to the boil.
  • 3. While the wine is heating, put the egg yolks with the caster sugar into another, large saucepan, and whisk until the mixture is fluffy and creamy. Add the cream to the yolk mixture and combine.
  • 4. Once the wine has boiled, take it off the heat and strain it through a sieve into a jug or other container with a spout. Stirring the cream and yolk mixture vigorously to avoid curdling, carefully pour the wine into it in a thin trickle. Reheat the soup on a low setting (make sure it doesn’t boil) and keep stirring until it thickens a little. Then take it off the heat and put aside to cool.
  • 5. When the soup has cooled to room temperature, put in the fridge for a few hours. Serve cold, decorated with a dollop of whipped cream and a few sultanas.


  1. This really looks like the perfect Christmas treat for an elegant dinner – beautiful!

  2. Balint, I always enjoy reading your posts, you have such a way with words! This wine soup is seriously good, and for this reason (and its alcohol content) will be featuring on my Christmas table this year, and probably for many more to come. Thank you for sharing :)

  3. Balint

    Thanks for the comments!

    I’m glad the wine soup has gone down well (in more than one sense). I hope it will be a popular first course on Lauren’s Christmas table and she’ll instantly gain some additional converts for the idea of a sweet (and slightly alcoholic) starter…

  4. Looks beautiful and sounds delcious

  5. Gillian

    Looks yummy, I am going to try this! I’m hoping to try more and more different christmas recipes when I head down to the German Christmas markets this year. Love this time of the year.

  6. hmmm sounds yummy and the presentation is gorgeous…I hope mine looks as neat when I try it out!

  7. Sherese

    Wow, somebody can take wine and make soup; the world just got better!!;)

  8. Lauren

    ;) It is true – this soup is amazing!

  9. Samantha

    Has anyone tried to freeze it for a later date? Wondering if it would freeze well.

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