Cube beef in 1 inch pieces. Peel and slice onions into thin rounds. Heat a large pan over high heat, add 1 TB. vegetable oil, swirl to coat. When the oil is good and hot, add onions, cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove onions to a soup pot.
Add another TB. of oil. When hot, add half of the beef. It is important not to crowd the pieces, so the browning is best done in two batches. Brown beef for about 5 minutes (it doesn’t have to be dark brown on all sides), add 1-11/2 TB. HUNGARIAN SWEET PAPRIKA, stir to coat beef and somewhat fry the paprika for about one minute. Remove beef to soup pot, scraping up paprika bits.
Heat the final TB. of oil, when hot, add the second batch of beef, brown , add the rest of the HUNGARIAN SWEET PAPRIKA and the CAYENNE RED PEPPER, fry an extra minute, remove to soup pot. Add 8-10 cups of water to the soup pot. Make sure to pour 1/2 cup into the used fry pan, scrape up the browned bits, and pour into the pot. Feel free to use beef stock instead of water, but it really isn’t necessary. Add the TURKISH BAY LEAVES at this point bring the soup to a simmer, and simmer for one hour.
Peel and cut potatoes, add to soup along with salt, which this soup, frankly, needs a fair amount of. Start with 1 TB. but taste before serving and adjust if necessary. Raise the heat to medium (soup should not quite boil) and cook for another 45 minutes. Serve with a simple salad, and, fresh crusty white bread or rolls, which, should just be broken up into the soup in bite-sized pieces, though you could serve it on the side with butter. Make sure there is a pepper grinder on the table so each person can grind a generous amount of black pepper on top of their bowl.