Quick and easy to do, simple, yet satisfying – that’s how this traditional Slovak soup could be described in a few words. The name hints at a piquant flavour the soup gets from vinegar.
I re-discovered the simple beauty of this classic dish while visiting Banska Stiavnica a couple of weeks ago. Surely the town’s ambience and the coziness of the restaurant I was eating in added to the experience. Anyway, the restaurant staff were happy to share with me the recipe, which I want to bring to a wider audience now. Hope you will enjoy it.
Slovak Sour Potato Soup
Serves 4 – 6
- 250 g smoked ham in block
- 1½ l water
- 4 potatoes
- 50 g bacon cubes
- 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
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 cubes over a low heat to let them 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, take it out and transfer 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 soft. 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 out of the heat and stir in the sugar and white vinegar. Serve hot with slices of fresh bread and chopped cooked ham, if preferred.
As you can see from the pictures above, I used a chilli pepper to spice up the soup, because my family like a little more heat in their food.
Slovak Sour Potato Soup can also be made without meat. In fact, that’s how we used to cook it decades ago when meat was saved for festive occasions in the Slovak kitchen.