In a large soup pot, sauté the onions in vegetable oil over low heat, stirring frequently, until translucent. Do not let them burn. Salt lightly to help tenderize them. If they begin to stick, add a bit of water to the pot.
Remove the pot from the heat, add the sweet Hungarian paprika, stir. Add the tomatoes, meat and pepper; stir again. Add a little bit of water (about 2 Tablespoons). Be sure to not burn the paprika, as it will get bitter.
Add 6 cups of water. Toss in the bay leaves and crack in some fresh pepper (to taste). Add some salt (I start with less, about 1 teaspoon. I add more as it’s cooking if I feel it needs it). If it seems too thick, add another 1-2 cups of water.
Reduce heat, add the carrots and potatoes. Cover and simmer until meat is tender, adding water as necessary. It takes about 1.5-2 hours or until tender. If while simmering the soup seems too thick, add a little bit more water so it's the consistency you like.