This Hungarian Green Bean Soup Recipe Was Passed Down By Family!
Hungarian cuisine is known for its love of soup – and this love dates back centuries. So, if you’re looking for a creamy green bean soup- or tejfölös zöldbableves as it is called in Hungarian – this is the recipe for you!
Made with crisp green beans, sour cream, and paprika, this bean soup is a lighter but warm addition to a meal – or can be served as a main meal itself.
The classic orange color comes from the mix of white sour cream and bright red paprika – a staple of Hungarian cooking and national identity.
This recipe is another one that was passed down by Eric’s Hungarian grandmother – or Mama. She used to make to when Eric was a kid and he remembers going to “Mama and Papa’s House” to eat it.
Years later, his mom has taken on the task of cooking up a pot of soup… and now the recipe has been passed down to make its way here. Not bad for a piece of knowledge that traveled to Canada from a small town in western Hungary.
Having said that, our family calls this green bean soup “bableves” (literally: bean soup) which is actually kind of incorrect.
Bableves is actually a more general term which describes soups that include beans. To complicate matters, there are other versions of bean soup in nearby countries like Romania and Germany!
But don’t worry because we will make many more versions of bean soup on this website and will try to get into the differences and similarities.
Even within this recipe for a creamy version of green bean soup, there are different variations – from the ingredients to how it is served. For example, you can eat it warm or chilled.
We personally prefer it to be warm. To make it more filling, you can add a meat like small pieces of smoked ham. You could also eat this soup with egg dumplings added into it. We’ll make egg dumplings and link them here when we do it.
Before diving into this fairly simple recipe, there are a few things you should consider:
- Prepping the beans – washing, trimming the ends, and cutting them – can take surprisingly longer than you think so be sure to give yourself lots of prep time if you are doing it by yourself.
- As we mentioned in the recipe for Hungarian Goulash, there are different types of paprika. Hungarian paprika is the “classic” version but there are smoked, sweet, and even spicy hot paprika – so be sure to know which one you are adding to your soup!
Hungarian Green Bean Soup
- 1 large onion
- 1 pound green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika, more or less to taste
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Chop the onion into small cubes and set aside.
- Wash the green beans, trim off the ends and cut the beans into 1 inch long pieces. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large pot and add the onions. Sauté the onions on medium heat until they become translucent.
- Add the green beans to the pot, then add 2 cups of broth. The mixture of onions and beans should just be covered.
- Add the paprika, reduce the heat, and let everything simmer for around 30 minutes (or until the beans are tender – but not mushy).
- Add the sour cream, milk, and corn starch together in a bowl and whisk well.
- Add the corn starch mixture to the pot and mix everything well.
- Bring the soup back to a boil for around 2 minutes or until it has reached the desired thickness. Stir frequently.
- Serve and enjoy!
This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.
30 thoughts on “Creamy Hungarian Green Bean Soup”
The recipe doesn’t include salt, but there’s sodium amount listed under nutrition.
Do you add salt in this soup while it’s cooking? Or is it added by preference in each person’s bowl?
We use vegetable broth for this recipe, which typically contains salt, so we don’t usually add any extra salt. That’s also why you see sodium listed under nutrition. Even store-bought sour cream often contains a little bit of salt. I hope that makes more sense now! /Lisa
My husband is full Romanian but there could be a dash of Hungarian due to borders back before WW1. 😉 His mom made this often but she made it with a bit of meat or bacon and made a roux with the paprika. Added garlic also. She finished it with half & half rather than sour cream. Probably for a smoother and lower fat option. No vinegar.
Thanks for sharing, Patricia – It’s always so interesting to hear about different versions of dishes! I’ve also noticed that there are quite a few very similar dishes that Eric’s grandma made (Hungarian close to the Austrian border) that I’m familiar with from home (Germany closish to Austria). /Lisa
Thank you, this is so similar to the way my Hungarian Jewish Grandmother made it and I’ve been looking for this recipe. She also made 2 other similar soups. One was with potatoes & the sour cream instead of green beans. The other was with Sour Kraut and the sour cream. The Sour Kraut one was not popular, specially with us kids. I’ll be making this. Thank you again.
Thank you for sharing, Barb! Eric said that the soup with sauerkraut and sour cream sounds familiar to him – maybe we still have a recipe for it somewhere. I’d be interested in trying it. /Lisa
This is the way my nagymama made it, she always added a splash of white vinegar at the table. I bought green beans tonight to make it this weekend.
We always made this with added cottage ham ,kielbasa ,dill, and the vinegar. Absolutely delicious. Has to cook much longer with the cottage ham then add sliced kielbasa 1/2 hr before it’s done
Thanks for sharing your version, that sounds tasty!
I m Jewish and sometimes kosher and I really like green beans. Yes I do like this recipe. Thank you. I ll use it for maybe a luncheon out here in California.
This particular bean soup, I call it the brown one I don’t put vinegar in. The white one, yes vinegar.
I put carrots and Hungarian sausage as well as doing up a bit of dark roux to give more color and flavour. My mother sometimes creamed this soup and other times did not. One of my favorites.
Thanks for sharing, Steve – it sounds delicious!
There is no mention of vinegar in the recipe, but my Hungarian grandmother always added it. Vinegar is mentioned in the comments.
Vinegar is not usually eaten with it in Eric’s family (that’s why we didn’t initially include it) but we know lots of people add it or serve it on the side. This is one of our oldest recipes on this website, so we’ll definitely give it an update soon and mention vinegar! 🙂 /Lisa
HOW MUch apple cider vinigar?
I love green beans, my husband not so much. I will definitely make this and maybe tempt him to try them . . Thank you for posting.
I’ve been looking for this recipe for years for my Hungarian husband. His mother would not share, or if she did, she didn’t give the correct recipe. Both are now gone. Please, please share your recipes with everyone! Why would you not want your loved ones to continue to enjoy your splendid dishes after you ‘re gone? Mother used the broth from cooking a cottage ham.
My exes grandmother only trusted me with the secret recipe…needless to say she’s gone and I lost the recipe years ago!!
Hi I will try this soup my Husband is Hungarien I cook a lot of hungarien meals I come from Austria
Absolutely love the vinegar in it. My grandma used it in this soup.
I followed my grandmother and mother with this soup but made the broth with ham hocks and usually a shank. Then I take the meat and add it to the soup. Can anyone tell me the reason for the vinegar? I am the last in the family so have no one to ask and am just curious.
Gives it great punch
It was very good!! Sometimes I add dill to it, but my Hungarian grandmother didn’t make it that way. I suggest adding enough high quality sweet authentic Hungarian paprika to give the soup a light orange color.
My father was full blooded hungarian. This soup was always one if my favorites. I was taught to always brown the paprika in butter. (In all hungarian recipes using paprika)When You do this, you have to get it nice and dark without burning it. Saute onions on the side till almost done then add to the browned paprika, finish waiting onions, then add your broth and beans. Cool a bit before adding sour cream or it will curdle, lastly add a bit of vinager. This was the way my hungarian grandmother made it. Serve warm with buttered rye bread on the side.
That’s so interesting – thanks for sharing, Lynn! We’ll try your version the next time we make green bean soup. /Lisa
Wow, this is the way I remember my grandmother in Pittsburgh making green bean soup. Thanks
My Hungarian family made this soup all the time, we never used onion, vegetable broth or paprika in our green bean soup. Milk was poured in the pot of beans and a thickening of flour and milk were poured in the pot with the beans and thickened, then we added sour cream just to melt and a couple spoons full of vinegar. Grandma said if they were lucky, they would have bacon on hand to add to the soup. Maybe this was a different part of Hungarian cooking. Anyway, my grandmother taught our mothers and grand daughters how to make this soup.
That’s really interesting, thank you for sharing! I’m sure there are lots of different versions of the soup. This recipe was passed down from Eric’s Hungarian grandma, but unfortunately she’s not with us anymore so we can’t ask her if she modified it over the years. That would have been interesting to find out. /Lisa
ADD HEAD OF DILL. STEM AND ALL. VINA GAR TO TASTE IAM. FULL HUNGARIAN LOVE THIS DISH LOTS OF BEAUTIFUL BEANS
i made it last week and my husband loves it so I’m making again this week