A basic Hungarian peasant stew with a surprisingly delicious and unusual flavor


  • 4 cups lentils
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-½ lb. cooked ham or smoked ham shanks
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pints low-fat sour cream


Wash the lentils and remove any stones. If the ham shanks are smoked or cured in brine, soak them for 20 minutes in hot water to remove the excess salt.

Sauté onions in a 4-quart pot until clear in the olive oil. Add the lentils, ham and pepper, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer on very low heat for about 2 hours. Check the water level after 15 minutes, and add water or broth to bring the liquid level up just below the top of the lentils. At the end, the liquid level should be quite low, but not so low that the lentils burn on the bottom of the pot.

Remove the ham from the shank bones and skin, and shred back into the lentils. Mix a spoonful of the hot lentils into the sour cream to soften, then add to the lentils. Stir well, let sit for a 1/2 hour, then serve.


The original recipe calls for ham hocks and regular sour cream, which add a lot of pork fat (and flavor) to the dish. Make it with ham and low-fat sour cream to reduce the fat.

Nutrition: 375 calories per cup, approximately 10 grams of fat.

This recipe can be scaled down to make about 1 quart by using 1 package of lentils (12 oz), 1 medium-large onion, 1 lb of ham hocks, and 1 pint of sour cream. It can also be prepared 1 or 2 days in advance, keeps for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Basic, Pork, Stews
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