A bowl of pasulj with a slice of bread and a glass of wine.

Pasulj (from phaseolusSerbian Cyrillic: Пасуљ) or Grah (in Bosnian), is a bean soup made of usually white, cranberry or pinto beans, and more rarely kidney beans, that is common in AlbanianSerbianMontenegrinBosnianCroatian and Slovenian cuisine (former Yugoslavia). It is normally prepared with meat, particularly smoked meat such as smoked baconsausage, and ham hock, and is a typical winter dish. Other commonly used ingredients include carrots and onions.

Pasulj hails from the Balkans. It’s similar to Fasole cu Carnate, a stew of beans, sausage, and root vetables. This one is thickened with a paprika roux similar to Jokai Bean Soup. Mine turned out quite thick, but could easliy be adjusted by using less roux or adding water.

I think traditionally it would use a larger white bean (one of the videos I watched, of a Serbian Baba teaching her grandson how to make it, said cannellini beans) but the beans shelf at the grocery store was pretty bare and I had navy beans in stock at home, so I chose not to run all over town looking for something else.

My recipe calls for water to cover your beans by about 2-3 inches. The total amount will vary depending on your pot. I used about 8 cups in my 7 qt. Dutch oven. A smaller pan will take less water.

Pasulj is best simmered for a long time, so the flavors blend and everything gets nice and soft. Try not to stir it too much, especially toward the end, so you don’t break up the beans.


Serves: 6-8
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 3 ½ hours
Total: 4 hours

2 cups white beans
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ⅓ lbs smoked ham hocks
2 bay leaves
6 Tablespoons parsley, minced
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
5 peppercorns
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ large carrots, diced
1 ½ ribs celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
¾ lb. Kielbasa, sliced
3 medium red potatoes, diced
¾ teaspoon salt
3 ½ Tablespoons oil
3 ½ Tablespoons flour
2 ¾ teaspoon paprika
2 Tablespoons dill, chopped

2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Sour cream, for garnish
6 oz. smoked bacon
2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
½ Tablespoon butter

Cover beans with water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 30 minutes, add a couple cups of cold water and remove from heat. Let sit for about 15 minutes, and then drain. Set beans aside.

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or heavy soup pot. Saute onion for about 5 minutes, until soft and golden. Add garlic and saute another 5 minutes.

Add beans, ham hocks, bay leaves, parsley, pepper and tomato paste. Stir well and add water to cover beans by 2-3 inches (This will vary depending on the pot you use. I used about 8 cups). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for about 2 hours.

Add carrots, celery, bell pepper, kielbasa and potatoes. Continue to simmer for another hour, until beans and vegetables are soft.

Remove ham hocks and allow to cool slightly. Season soup with salt.

Heat oil in a small saute pan over medium low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden. Remove from heat and stir in paprika. When soup is ready, scoop a couple ladles of broth into the roux and heat, stirring, until it bubbles. Pour roux mixture into soup while stirring. Remove meat from hocks and stir back into the soup.

Garnish with fresh dill. Serve with good bread and a glass of red wine. 

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