Jókai Bableves (Bean Soup with Smoked Ham Hock)
(Pronunciation: “Yo-kaw-ee Bob-leh-vesh”)
Well actually the translation for Jókai bableves is “Jókai’s bean soup” as it was named after Jókai Mór, a Hungarian writer whose favourite soup included beans, egg noodles, smoked ham hock and smoked sausage, and topped off with a heaping spoonful of sour cream. Whoever this guy was, he certainly had good taste. This dish can also be called “csülkös bableves” which literally means ham hock bean soup.
Preparation is actually pretty easy, especially if you’ve already worked with ham hocks before. This is only my second time working with a ham hock and my first time making csipetke (Hungarian egg noodles), and I got this dish perfect on my first try. (◕‿◕✿) The roux might be tricky, but if you’ve made béchamel sauce before it’s basically the same deal.
Also, check out my new soup bowl. Pretty nice, huh? I got some pictures to retake…
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1 ham hock (around 250g of meat)*
100g csabai kolbász (smoked Hungarian sausage)**
1 cup dry pinto beans (200g)***
4 bay leafs
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste (I added 1/2 tsp more)
For the csipetke (egg noodles):
1/2 cup flour + 1/4 cup more
a pinch of salt
For the roux:
2 tbsp lard (30g)
2 tbsp flour (30g)
1 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp sour cream
0. Rinse and soak beans overnight, or for about 8-12 hours.
1. In a large pot, throw in your ham hock, soaked beans, bay leafs, whole garlic cloves, and an onion cut in half. Fill the pot with water until everything is covered, bring it up to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook stirring and occasionally giving the bottom of the pot a scrape with a wooden spoon making sure none of the beans get stuck to the bottom.
2. While ham hock and beans are simmering, peel and chop your carrots and parsnips,**** as well as your smoked sausage. Add to a bowl and set aside for later.
3. After about 30 minutes or so of simmering, pull your ham hock out of the soup. For me, I like to use the onion as my indicator; if the onion no longer has any crunch to it, I take out the ham hock. So pull out the ham hock whenever you want to, let it cool for a little bit (1-3 minutes is just fine), turn the heat on the pot down to low, remove all the onion pieces and the garlic too (unless you like biting into soft whole garlic cloves in a soup, which I actually do so I leave them in), then when the ham hock is cool enough to work with, begin cutting off the skin doing your best to keep it as one piece, and remove all the meat you can from the bones and chop it up into bite sized pieces.
4. Now add your cut ham hock meat back into the pot, and I like to throw the skin and the bones back into the pot as well, just to extract as much flavour from the bones and skin as I can and make sure it gets into the soup. You should also throw in your veggies and sausage at this point, along with a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Continue cooking on medium heat.
We can make the csipetke now, although it’s very time consuming and so it could’ve certainly been done ahead of time, and the dough is easier to work with when chilled anyway… but you can still do it right now from scratch without any issues.
5. In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup of flour with a pinch of salt, then crack in an egg. Using one hand, give it a good working until you’ve got a nice even lump of dough, but it’ll probably be too sticky to work with at this point, so add little more flour a sprinkle at a time with your other hand until it’s possible to work with.
6. Pinch off little tiny pieces of the dough and roll them between your thumb and forefingers until they’re as firm as you can make them. Smaller is better, as they will plump up quite a bit when they cook. Pop them directly in the simmering soup as you make them, as they tend to stick together if they’re not floured enough if you’re storing them all in a bowl. Speaking of flour, keep adding more flour as needed to ensure the noodles are relatively firm. Once you believe there’s enough csipetke in your soup, or if you just get sick of pinching off tiny pieces of the dough like I did, throw the rest of the dough in the garbage and continue work on the soup.
7. Now we will thicken up the soup and make it opaque by making a roux. First, adjust the water levels of your soup by removing or adding some liquid from or to the pot. For me I used a little too much water to cover the whole ham hock, so I removed a little and poured it into the sink.
8. In a separate saucepan, melt your lard on medium heat, then sprinkle in your flour giving it a good stir with a wooden spoon, just like making béchamel sauce.
9. Stir in your paprika, and once all the paprika and flour is no longer dry, stir in some of the broth from the soup one ladle at a time into the saucepan, and give it a good stir until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps of flour or anything. You should use a whisk to make this easier, but I don’t want to clean a whisk so I prefer to stick with the wooden spoon and just break up any lumps while mixing in more broth until it’s nice and even.
10. Pour the mixture from the saucepan into the pot, and stir it all in. Crank the heat up to medium-high, and cook stirring frequently for about 10 minutes or just so that the soup reduces to your desired thickness.
11. When it’s done, remove from the heat, stir in your balsamic vinegar and taste and adjust seasoning. I added about half a teaspoon of salt at this point and in total since the ham hock is already salty.
12. Serve topped with a spoon of sour cream and some Italian parsley for garnish. Enjoyyyyy~~~
*My ham hock was about 512g with the bone, but unless portion control is absolutely crucial for you, just cook the whole ham hock regardless of its size. Otherwise, cook it with the bone, weight out the chopped meat you wish to add to the soup, then save the rest for something else.
**While technically any smoked sausage like kielbasa or spicy Italian sausage would work in this, for true authenticity, go to a delicatessen and pick up a csabai kolbász with a spicy paprika flavour, or even a few debreceners would work.
***Any sort of dried beans that you’d use for chili would work in this; kidney beans, black beans, or a combination. The original recipe doesn’t specify, and the beans don’t taste all that different either.
****According to this guy Jókai didn’t like vegetables in his soup, just their flavour, so if you want to be truly authentic keep the vegetables whole when you throw them in so you can take them out easily later, but personally I like the vegetables in this soup and I don’t want to waste them so I’ll be chopping the carrot into thin circles and the parsnip will be diced into tiny pieces.
(jokai, bab, leves, kolbasz, kolbass, kolbasa, kielbasa, csulkos, chulkosh)