Korhelyleves – Hungarian Drunkard’s Soup!

Happy New Year from Hungary! Last night, Budapestis rang in 2014 all over the city. I went down to the river to watch the fireworks show. It was packed. I should have brought my umbrella with me. So many people were spraying each other with bottles of Törley (Hungarian bubbly) that it seemed like it was raining champagne. Hungarians surely know how to celebrate. And yesterday I was Hungarian. When I finally waddled home I had quite the headache. It’s a good thing that the Magyars have something special for a Hungarian Hangover. It’s called Korhelyleves or Drunkard’s Soup. Nope, it’s not made of strong black coffee. It contains sauerkraut, sausage, and sour cream. Today, I made myself a giant pot. I needed it. I’ve included the recipe in case you need it, too. Happy New Year! Or as they say in Hungary - Boldog Új Évet Kívánok!

Recipe for Drunkard Soup (Korhely Leves)


  • 10 oz ham shank
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • water
  • 2 c. sauerkraut (drained, liquid reserved)
  • 6 c. chicken or beef stock
  • 6 potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces (use a waxy potato, not a baking potato)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pepper to taste
  • sour cream
  • 5 oz. dried sausage, diced

P1090204Directions: Cover and boil the ham (enough water to cover the ham) for 1/2 hour. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid. When cool cut into pieces. Melt the butter and sauté the onion until golden. Take the pan off the head and add the paprika and stir. Add the sauerkraut and a bit of water to loosen the mixture. Put back on the heat and add the sauerkraut juice, stock and reserved ham stock. Bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, pepper and ham. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. When ready to serve stir in the sausage and sour cream. Enjoy!


13 thoughts on “Korhelyleves – Hungarian Drunkard’s Soup!

  1. I’m surprised it doesn’t call for komenymag (caraway seed). That’s usually in these types of soups, too. We made our traditional lencse leves (lentil soup) with ham shanks cooked forever, add an onion, bay leaves, salt, rantas (roux) boil up, add vinegar and sugar. Top off with sour cream. Good stuff! BUEK! from Toledo, Ohio :)

  2. I think I understand what dried sausage is, but where do you find the “right” stuff to make it authentic Hungarian. My husband is Hungarian and grew up eating his Grandmother’s authentic Hungarian recipes. I’m doing my best to fill her very large shoes!

  3. I am so glad to find this site. My husband was Hungarian (passed 8 years ago) and I loved to make Hungarian dishes for him. I was limited as to what I could make depending on Hungarian cookbooks. I worked in a Hungarian restaurant and that greatly expanded my knowledge. I STILL cannot get the delicious pastries down to a science and I dearly love them. If anyone knows of a simple way to make them I would be so happy.

  4. I usually made this with a smoked pork hock cut in 3 pieces by the butcher and some smoked pork ribs (not many) boiled together until falling of the bone, bones removed, meat diced. Broth used of course! Water added. Then the rest of the recipe is much the same. I can assure you: THIS is a very restorative soup after a boozy evening. It works miracles on one’s woozy tummy & throbbing skull. I will try the above with the ham, even though I am lucky to live in a large city (Toronto) with many ethnic grocers.

  5. That soup looks delicious. Can you recommend a cookbook. I need a recipe for what my grandmother called “sick soup”. It was creamy and had caraway seeds in it.

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