Hungarian Lentil Stew

Lentil stew is most commonly served as a New Years’ dish, meant to be eaten on the first day of the year. The lentils symbolise coins, while pigs are seen as lucky, so the two together can only mean lots of wealth and luck for the coming year!

The dish is popular all throughout the winter season, and rightfully so – it’s hearty, rich and full of flavor, so it’s just the thing to warm you up on a cold day. Also, this is one of those dishes that just get better after a day, so we recommend making a big amount and saving some for later. Give it a try, whether it brings luck or not, you won’t be disappointed!


  • 500g brown lentils, soaked overnight in water
  • 6 medium sized onions, diced
  • 500g diced soup vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and leeks)
  • 1 liter ham cooking water (or beef/vegetable broth)
  • 500g Mangalitza ham, cut into medium-sized pieces
  • One big squeeze garlic paste (or 4-5 cloves, minced)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder
  • Herbs and spices to taste: caraway seeds, cumin, smoked paprika, black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic paste and soup vegetables to the pot, and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until nicely browned, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the ham to the pot, followed by the bay leaves and herbs.
  4. Add the ham water or broth, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let simmer for 30 minutes. If you have the patience, you can wait longer and let the meat slowly render with the vegetables for up to 1-2 hours to enhance the flavor.
  5. Add the rinsed lentils and the mustard. Simmer until lentils are tender and stew is thickened, about 30-40 minutes more.
  6. Season the stew with salt to taste. Serve hot.
  7. Optionally you can top it with sour cream or Hungarian kolbász.