Palots soup – Palócleves

by | Mar 15, 2014 | Soups

Palots soup was invented by Johann Gundel, the founder of the Gundel dynasty. Johann arrived to Hungary in 1857 to try his luck. He made an incredible fast and ambitious career, in 1867 he was called upon to organize the banquet following Francis Joseph’s coronation cerenomy. Two years later he already ran his own restaurant. One restaurant followed the other, later he opened hotels, as well. In less than 10 years he was elected as president of the Hoteliers and Restaurateurs Association.

It was a part of Gundel’s success that his guests were prominent personalities, among others writers, politicians, composers. The Palots soup (that is also suitable for a one dish meal) was inspired by Kálmán Mikszáth, a novelist, journalist, and politician. He was the most famous Palóc in Hungary. Palots formed an ethnic group in the 19th and 20th centuries. Their home was the Highlands, north from the Mátra and the Bükk mountains, in the Nógrád basin and in the Ipoly valley.

Kálmán Mikszáth – photo: Wikipedia

There are three legends circulated about the creation of Palots soup. According to a story Mikszáth asked Gundel to prepare a dish that he would have a relish for. Others say that Gundel cooked the soup as a surprise for Mikszáth’s birthday. According to another legend the soup that contained the Highlands flavours was first prepared for the inauguration of the Mikszáth-room in the István Főherceg Hotel. The soup was originally made from mutton, but of course it can also be made from beef or pork.

Palots soup / Palócleves
Palots soup – Palócleves – photo:


  • 1 tbsp lard
  • 1 kg (~2 1/4 lbs) pork leg, boneless & cut into cubes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3-4 tsp sweet paprika
  • pinch of hot paprika
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250 g (~1/2 lb) potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 500 g (~1 lb) green beans, cut into 2-3 cm / 1 inch pieces
  • 3-4 tsp salt
  • 1,5-2 liters (~6-8 cups) water
  • 4 tbsps sour cream
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp chopped dill

In a stew pot heat up the lard, add the finely chopped onions and cook until it becomes “glassy”. Add the meat cubes and stir until they turn white. Remove the pot from the heat, add paprika, chopped garlic, caraway seeds and stir to get the meat covered evenly with the spices. Put it back over the heat and cover with water (about 1 liter ~ 4 cups). Add salt and bay leaf. Stir it from time to time while cooking.

When the pork is half-cooked, add potato cubes and cut green beans, and pour water in (0,5-1 liter ~ 2-4 cups). Once the meat is tender, in a little bowl mix up sour cream, flour and 1/4 cup of water. Add some hot soup to the sour cream, mix together, and pour the mixture into the soup while stirring constantly. Simmer the soup for about 3-4 minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with chopped dill.

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This is what Hungarian túró looks like

You often ask me what kind of cottage cheese (or curd cheese or farmer's cheese - call it what you want) I use in the recipes. In Hungary the store-bought cottage cheese is dry and crumbly as you can see in the picture. So if a recipe calls for túró, I mean this type. If you can't obtain túró, you can try to make your own from whole milk. Click on the link below.

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In Hungary metric units are in use, all the recipes on this website are based on this system, so a kitchen scale is necessary. Since I’m not familiar with cup as a measurement unit, I convert grams to cups by using an online converter. The values in brackets, therefore, are only approximate volumes, so, please, double-check them before you start cooking.

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