Hungarian pork bone stock – Orjaleves

We are still in the middle of flu season, so this is the right time to cook some pork stock, the best possible medicament against influenza virus, which supports your immune system in recovering. In most Hungarian families, hen or pork stock is an obligatory part of Sunday lunch, it’s not a simple dish, but the base of our existence. In Hungary we use orja, which is the meaty spine of pork, and marrow bones to make pork bone soup. Bones are unexpensive, they don’t burden a typical family’s food budget.

The following pork stock isn’t the one and only recipe, it just intends to serve as a guideline how to prepare this wonderful soup. You can change or increase the list of ingredients, you just have to pay attention to some simple rules:

  • You can’t cook a good stock from boneless meat, bone is the component that gives flavour and nutrient value to the soup.
  • Skimming off the scum is an essential step to get a limpid broth.
  • Stock needs time, you can’t hasten it; simmering is the only acceptable way to cook it in order to be able to extract collagen and minerals from the bone and meat.
  • As regards the vegetables, it depends on your taste what kind of veggies you add to the soup, but carrot, parsley root and celeriac can’t be omitted. Vegetables have to be cut in bigger pieces because they spend a lot of time in the soup, if you chop them finely, they’ll be overcooked and mushy by the time your soup is ready.
  • The phrase “Less is more” is doubly true in connection with broth’s seasoning. Stock doesn’t require too many spices, the meat’s savor has to be dominant, salt and some black pepper corns, possibly even nutmeg are more than enough to make a delicious soup.

Hungarian pork bone stock / Orjalevesphoto: zserbo.com

Ingredients:

  • 1,2 kg (~2 3/4 lb) pork bones (spine, marrow bones, shoulder bones)
  • 8-10 black pepper corns
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 4-5 tsp salt or to taste
  • 3 big parsley roots, peeled and thick-cut
  • 2 big carrots, peeled and thick-cut
  • a small slice of celery root (about 2 oz), peeled
  • 1 small onion, whole and peeled
  • 2 sprigs of lovage
  • 200 g (~7 oz) soup noodles

Soak the bones in cold water for at least 30 minutes to let the blood come out of the bones. Rinse and drain, then put all of the bones in a stockpot and cover with 2-3 inches of water (approximately 2,5-3 liters or 10-12 cups of water). Cook on high until the water comes to a boil and scum rises to the top. With a skimmer spoon skim off the scum that accumulates on the surface of the soup to create a nice and clean stock. Reduce heat, add black pepper corns, nutmeg and salt, cover and slowly simmer on low for about an hour. After an hour add the vegetables and lovage, adjust salt, and keep on simmering for further 2-3 hours until the meat on the bones is tender.

Remove meat and vegetables – onion and lovage can be discarded, parsley, carrot and celeriac will be served with the soup. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer. Pour 4-5 cups of stock in a smaller pot, bring it to a boil, add soup noodles and cook until al dente. If you find the soup too thick, add some stock to dilute it. Serve the soup hot with bones and vegetables.

Feel free to freeze leftover soup, but without noodles. Noodles don’t hold up very well when defrosted and reheated.

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