Goulash or Slumgullion



There are lots of names for similar dishes and I think this dish is probably the inspiration for the old Hamburger Helper. Ground beef, macaroni, tomato sauce and cheese. I like to add kidney beans and peas, too, and some Worcestershire sauce.  I used a can of cream of mushroom soup but you really just need something to thicken it up a bit. You can always make your own cream of soup if you’d rather not use the canned variety.

I vary the pasta I use in this depending on what I have on hand. Last night I made it with penne but I do think I prefer it with the smaller pasta shapes. I’m not sure why.

Goulash or Slumgullion

  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 1 onions, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
  • 2 15-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 15-oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Heat the oil in a deep skillet and start the onions and garlic cooking, stirring periodically.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente then drain and set aside.

When the garlic and onions are soft, about 5 minutes, add the ground beef and cook, stirring to break up the chunks. (Note: this would also be a great dish to use [boiled ground beef|http://cheapcooking.com/articles/boilingbeef.htm] in.) Cook until browned, then drain excess oil and fat.

Add the tomato sauce, kidney beans, cream of mushroom soup, cooked pasta, and Worcestershire sauce. Heat through, stirring, then stir in the frozen peas, stir, and cover. Let the goulash simmer a few minutes to finish the pasta and heat the peas.

Top with grated cheese, cover, and let the cheese melt. Serve.

I’ve varied the cheeses I use but think Cheddar is my favorite.  But I’ve made it with mozzarella before and last night I used some shredded Mexican blend.





  1. Sheila NaDell says:

    My Mother, God rest her soul, was the greatest cook I’ve ever known. She was a true master of making something out of nothing. Her version of slumgullion was anything leftover that could be combined to make a meal. Feeding a family of seven (2 adults, 5 children) was difficult at times. I thank her dearly for teaching me to be resourceful!

  2. There’s a whole discussion of slumgullion/slumgoo in the musical play _The Christmas Schooner_.

  3. Steve, interesting bit about the term. I’m glad it tastes better than the words would imply!

  4. Growing up in my house, “schlomgoulia” was a type of stew, from my Dad’s Romanian side of the family, and Dad usually made it. It was a way to use up the week’s leftovers. Whatever was left in the fridge: leftover steak, chicken, etc., diced with onions, peppers and any leftover vegetables. Then the whole thing was topped with a couple of eggs that cooked on top of the the stew. Goulash was a whole ‘nother animal my German mother would make.

  5. Thanks for sharing Ginny! Let me know how you like it.

  6. Ginny Smith says:

    Ellen, Have a shortcut on my desktop for Slumgullion, have the ingredients, but haven’t prepared it yet. Run across it during some recipe/cooking reading on the net. The recipe and a bit of history, at least for the poster is at http://www.examiner.com/article/slumgullion-not-just-a-pass-colorado
    Am not so crazy about canned soups, but will try your recipe next time I make this dish. Like your updated site.

  7. Al Rosinski says:

    Sorry, I meant to mention that his was supposedly a HOBO’s pot luck dinner back when there wasn’t any money laying around and the hobo’s begged food from the various homes in the area that they were staying in.

  8. Al Rosinski says:

    Slumgullion brought back many, many dear memories for me. My Aunt Anna introduced me to it back in he middle 1930s. Then it wads made with bacon and very little of the expensive hamburger. It was better the next day after all the flavors blended. Man I could go for a pate of that now!

  9. Steve Levine says:

    From dictionary.com:
    1840–50, Americanism; compare Scots, Hiberno-English gullion quagmire, cesspool

    From merriam-webster.com:
    Origin of SLUMGULLION
    perhaps from slum slime + English dialect gullion mud, cesspool

    Yum! “Slimy cesspool” sounds delicious.

  10. Wow – we always called our version Slumgullion but I thought that was a term my mom invented! Would love to hear the origin!

  11. same here…and we called it slumgullion too (I always thought it was a german word).

  12. Robin rossi says:

    We called it Slumgullion and it was more like Beefaroni…elbows, tomato sauce ground beef, green pepper and seasonings…..nothing else….sheer childhood heaven.