Jókai bean soup – The great tale-teller’s favorite soup

by | Feb 15, 2014 | Soups

Jókai bean soup is named after Mór Jókai (1825-1904), one of the greatest Hungarian writers. He was the greatest figure of Hungarian romantic prose. But his enormous life-work can’t be categorized only in one style as his works bear marks of the new trends of post-romanticism. Jókai was extremely prolific, he wrote more than 100 novels. Amongst the finest of his works may be mentioned The Man with the Golden Touch, The Baron’s Sons, Poor Plutocrats, Black Diamonds, A Hungarian Nabob and Zoltán Kárpáthy.

Mór Jókai – photo: Wikipedia

Few people know that serious historical writings about gastronomy can also be found among his works. But he never published any food recipe. He looked for the domestic tastes in everything and everywhere, he adored the Hungarian dishes, among others this bean soup.


  • 1 medium smoked pork knuckle (approx. 1 kg ~ 2lbs)
  • 300 g (~10 1/2 oz) pinto beans
  • water
  • half bay leaf
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 parsley root, diced
  • 100 g (~3 1/2 oz) smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp lard
  • 2 tbsps flour
  • 1 tsp ground sweet paprika
  • 3 tsps salt
  • sour cream
  • small bunch of parsley

Rinse the pinto beans and the pork knuckle, put them into 2 bowls or pots, cover them with water and let them soak overnight.

Cover the pork knuckle with 4-5 l of fresh water and cook it until gets soft completely (bone can be removed easily).  Dice the meat and set aside. Keep 600-800 ml from the cooking water, the rest may be dumped.

Put the pinto beans in a pot, cover with 2 l of fresh water, add bay leaf and 2 tsps. of salt. Bring it to the boil, add carrot and root parsley dices and cook until soft.

Meanwhile heat the lard in a frying pan over medium heat, add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. With a wooden spoon, gently mix 2 tbsps. of flour into the cooked onion and garlic.  Mix till all ingredients are well combined.  Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes till the roux becomes light blond in color. Remove the frying pan from the heat, add the ground paprika and mix well to make sure that the paprika is evenly distributed. Set aside and let the roux cool.

If the pinto bean soup is cooked and roux is cool, use a whisk to whip the mixture together and to make sure there are no lumps formed. Pour in the meat’s cooking water to dilute the soup. Add the sausage slices, the chopped pork knuckle and rest of the salt and cook the soup for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Serve with sour cream (1 tbsp./plate) and  chopped parsley.

Jókai bean soup
Jókai bean soup – photo: zserbo.com

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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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