Karl’s Noom Friendly Depression Era Goulash

Jan’s family Christmas Eve traditional meal was Grandpa Von Hausen’s goulash. This was a depression era dish of bacon, hamburger, onions, a bottle of ketchup, garlic, paprika, and cans of peas, kidney beans, and pork & beans. The idea was that this dish would sustain the family throughout the days of Christmas—without anyone needing to stop and cook. I have already made the original dish healthier, but Jan is currently on the Noom Program and she asked me to Noom-ify this recipe. My main change from the last time was to replace the beef with ground turkey, to eliminate the bacon and the pork in the beans.

Karl’s Noom Friendly Depression Era Goulash

Karl’s Noom Friendly Depression Era Goulash

While Depression-era goulash is a common dish over most of America, it’s only relationship to Hungarian goulash seems to be the usual addition of beef and paprika. While the American version first appeared around 1914, this is one of those recipes with no set ingredients list. Many families have their own special variations of the dish. During the 1930’s—the Great Depression—it seemed to consist of any cheep canned foods you had available, added to a bit of hamburger.

I had Jan’s family recipe a few times—early in my relationship with Jan—and I was not overly fond of it. I think the main reason for my dislike was because, after making it, her mother would then simmer it for 24 hours before serving—so that it had the texture of a sticky mush. Jan requested this goulash for this the camping trip that she and daughter Eilene were going on.

I froze half of the goulash for them to take on the camping trip and froze the other half for a later meal. This dish was still very thick and Jan decided to Noom-ify it further by treating it as a condensed soup—thinning it out with water. If I had known she was going to do this, I would have added a can of chicken broth to their supplies.

Karl’s Noom Friendly Depression Era Goulash


½ lb. ground turkey
½ Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. cracked black pepper
¼ tsp. salt

2 Tbs. butter, separate uses
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. Kosher salt

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
½ lb. green beans, cut into ⅜ inch pieces (pea sized)
½ green bell pepper, coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste

1 can (14.5 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 Tbs. Hungarian paprika
½ tsp. black pepper
1 can (16 oz) red kidney beans, drained
1 can (15 oz.) vegetarian baked beans, DO NOT drain

½ cup frozen petite green peas
32 oz. Low sodium chicken broth


1. Put the ground turkey in a medium mixing bowl and add the Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, salt, and pepper.

2. Mix well and cover with plastic wrap to meld for 20-30 minutes.

3. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a heavy bottomed soup pot over medium high heat.

4. Form the turkey into one large patty and fry it on both sides until it is well browned.

Tip: This is an America’s Test Kitchen trick. It solves the problem of getting the flavor of the Maillard reaction without turning your ground meat into little dried out pebbles.

5. Remove the turkey to a plate to cool and add the second tablespoon of butter to the pot.

Note: When the meat is cool enough to handle, chop it into medium to small pieces.

6. Sauté the onions with the salt until they are just starting to pick up some color, about five minutes.

Tip: Use the moisture released by the onions to deglaze the pot.

7. Add the celery, green beans, and peppers to the onions.

8. Continue to sauté the vegetables for another five minutes.

9. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic and tomato paste.

Tip: Put the garlic on one side of the open space and the paste on the other.

10. Cook the garlic and tomato paste until the garlic is fragrant and the paste has started to darken, about 1-2 minutes.

11. Stir in the can of tomatoes—with all of its liquid—and deglaze the pot with the juices.

12. Sprinkle the paprika and pepper over the vegetables.

13. Drain the kidney beans and stir them to the pot.

14. Pour the baked beans—with its liquid—into the pot.

15. Return the turkey pieces to the pot.

16. Simmer the stew, uncovered, for ten minutes.

17. Add the green peas and chicken broth.

18. Continue simmering, uncovered, for another ten minutes.

19. Serve hot.


Filed under Main Dishes, Soups, Turkey

4 responses to “Karl’s Noom Friendly Depression Era Goulash

  1. I like all the modifications you made to the original recipe!

  2. Sandra

    What do you do with the meat patty that has been set aside to cool?

  3. Pingback: Karl’s Noom Friendly Depression Era Goulash — Jabberwocky Stew | My Meals are on Wheels

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