Food & Drink Magazine

~grah i Varivah~croatian White Bean Soup~

By Ally @allykitchen

Soup was always something my Croatian Mom fixed growing up~~it was an integral part of most Croatian meals.  And, hearty bean soups were brewing on the stove especially during the cold winter months.  Serbian white bean soup or ‘grah i varivah’ is a bean dish usually made with white or brown beans~~it’s traditional to Eastern Europeans areas like Slovenia, Serbia (where it’s called ‘pasulj’) , Bosnia, Albania and Croatia.  Usually, it’s prepared with smoked meat, like smoked bacon, smoked sausage, and smoked joints.

This soup, like most stews and soups, does get better on day two, so you might want to prepare it, then serve a day later.  It’s depth of flavors just gets richer and richer!  The sauce is thick and gravy like, but if you prefer otherwise, just add some extra chicken broth to thin it out.  If you want to add a dollop of sour cream and chives or sliced green onions on top, then that’s a great topping that can add some panache and flair!  With a hearty salad, this soup can become the meal entree…just add some good bread for dippin’ and soppin’!

 ~grah i varivah~croatian white bean soup~

What you need:

1 lb dried great Northern beans

32 oz chicken broth + 6-8 cups water (divided)

1 large ham shank or ham hock

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp red chili flakes

1/2 tsp white pepper (black can be substituted)

2 tbl olive oil

3 minced garlic cloves

1/2 cup sliced carrots

1/2 cup diced onion

2 celery ribs sliced

 ~grah i varivah~croatian white bean soup~

What you do:

Put the beans, 2 cups chicken broth, 3 cups water and the ham shank into a large pot over high heat.  Do not cover.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover pot (put the lid askew so steam can escape), and cook about 2 hours add chicken broth and water as needed.

Add cumin, paprika,  salt, chili flakes and pepper and blend.  Add more chicken broth and water as needed.  In a saute skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the garlic about 3 minutes.  Add the carrots and onion, blend and cook about 5 minutes.  Add this mixture to the beans.

Reduce heat to medium low and cook another about 30 minutes then add the celery and cook another 15-20 minutes.  Beans should be very tender and the broth should thicken some.  Remove the ham shank, tear off any remaining meat on the shank and add back to the beans.

 ~grah i varivah~croatian white bean soup~

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