I re-discovered this classic dish while I was visiting the historical town of Banská Štiavnica a couple of weeks ago. It was a crisp winter day and I stopped for a hot meal in a small, family-run restaurant that served some of the long-forgotten Slovak delights. Kyslá zemiaková polievka or Sour Potato Soup was one of them. I asked the restaurant staff for the recipe and made the soup at home.
Slovak Sour Potato Soup
Serves 4 – 6
- 250 g smoked ham in block
- 1½ l water
- 4 potatoes
- 50 g bacon, diced
- 2 heaped tablespoons fine flour
- ½ l milk
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 heaped teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 chilli pepper (optional)
- Place the ham in a cooking pot and pour in the water so that the meat is fully covered. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer until the meat is tender.
- Meanwhile, peel and wash the potatoes. Take the milk out of the fridge and pour into a bowl to let it warm to room temperature.
- In a small pot or sausepan, heat the bacon over a low heat to let it sweat and melt, while producing fat for frying. Increase the heat to medium and stir in 1 heaped tablespoon of fine flour. Mix well until the flour is lightly charred and a smooth roux has formed. Set aside.
- When the ham is cooked through, transfer it onto a cutting board. Dice the potatoes and throw them in the meat stock. Add the bay leaves, peeled and crushed garlic and stir well. Bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes are tender. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Meanwhile, put 1 heaped tablespoon of fine flour into the bowl with the milk and mix well until smooth. Pour this milky mixture into the cooled bacon roux, add the paprika and stir well. Transfer into the simmering potatoes and bring to the boil.
- The soup will have thickened by now, so take it off the heat and stir in the sugar. Add the white vinegar and spice up with the chilli pepper if you like. Serve hot with slices of fresh bread and chopped cooked ham.Slovak Sour Potato Soup can also be made without meat. In fact, that’s how it was cooked in our kitchens decades ago when meat was saved for festive occasions only.