Goulash has a fairly long history, as it is traced back to 9th century Hungarian shepherds (the term gulyás translates to “herdsmen”), when soup was an important part of the lifestyle. People would dry meats and veggies and then add hot water later to create a soup, and goulash was born. Although paprika is a signature spice of both Hungarian cuisine and this dish, it wasn’t introduced until the 16th century (bell peppers came from the New World), so the original variations of this dish were paprika-less.
Goulash is often classified as a stew here in the United States, but many Hungarians maintain that it’s a soup, often to differentiate it from a similar, thicker dish called pörkölt. Goulash is often served over egg noodles or spätzle, but many variations use potatoes, including mine. They help to bring a hearty feel to the dish, plus they conveniently thicken the sauce at the same time.