The secret of ‘palócleves’ is the intense, strong-tasting stock made from lamb bones and meat and vegetables. The strained juice is enriched with sour cream and used to cook the yellow beans, diced potatoes and then the turnips and beetroot. The purple potatoes marinated in the vinegar add a playfulness to the soup that makes the taste explode in your mouth. Fresh onion, dill and parsley are added to freshen it up.
In 1889, Károly Gundel's father took over the patinated Hotel István Főherczeg. Among the regulars at the hotel's restaurant was the 'greatest Palóc', Kálmán Mikszáth, one of the most famous writers of the time. It was in his honour, on the writer's birthday, that Gundel created this sour and substantial dish, named ‘Palócleves’ because Mikszáth was born in Nógrád. He also wanted to create in honour of the writer's great creative ambition. The original recipe was made from mutton, but it is almost unobtainable, so it is made from lamb.
The flavour harmony of the ‘Palóc’ green bean soup is an accurate reflection of the Hungarian tradition, which is why Hungarians love their soups so much. Almost a one-dish meal, it contains a wide variety of vegetables and meat. With a roasted base and red pepper, ‘palóc’ soup can even be prepared in a cauldron. It has a dense, intense flavour, balanced but with a strong overall effect. It is creamy from the sour cream, fragrant from the fresh dill and bay leaf, but with an intense play of acids due to the excellent ratio of sour cream to tarragon vinegar.