Hungarian Ham and Bean Soup (Csülkös Bableves)

  • Serves

    serves 8-10


A paprika-laced roux of lard, flour, and sour cream transforms a simple bean and ham soup into something luxurious. This recipe first appeared in our October 2013 issue with the article Rhapsody in Red.


  • 12 cup lard or canola oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 small parsnip, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1 lb. dried pinto beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large smoked ham hock
  • 14 cup flour
  • 1 12 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 cup sour cream


Step 1

Melt half the lard or heat half the oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, carrot, onion, parsnip, and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 7–9 minutes. Add beans, bay leaves, ham hock, and 12 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, partially covered, until beans are very tender, about 2 hours.

Step 2

Transfer ham hock to a cutting board and let cool, then discard skin and bone. Shred meat and stir into soup. Heat remaining lard or oil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth; cook 2 minutes. Whisk in paprika, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute. Whisk in sour cream. Stir mixture into soup and cook until slightly thickened, 4–6 minutes more. Ladle soup into serving bowls; garnish with more paprika, if you like.

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