Croatian Bean Soup (Grah i Varivah) Recipe

Croatian Bean Soup-Stew or Grah i Varivah
Croatian Bean Soup-Stew or Grah i Varivah. © Barbara Rolek licensed to, Inc.
  • 3 hrs 5 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 3 hrs
  • Yield: 8 servings Croatian Bean Soup
Ratings (18)

This Croatian bean soup is so thick, it's called a stew and that's why it's known as grah i varivah (literally "beans and stews") in Croatian. It can be eaten as a main meal, but many people eat it as a hearty soup.

Any type of smoked meat or sausage will do, but smoked rib meat is traditional and yields the best flavor in my book. I also use a combination of dried beans but pinto, cranberry or kidney beans are typically used.

Serve with hearty bread and you have a filling meal, especially when there's a nip in the air. The beans must be soaked overnight so plan accordingly.

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound dried pinto, cranberry or kidney beans, rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight
  • 12 to 15 cups cold water
  • 3 cloves peeled and minced garlic
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 pound smoked Croatian sausage like
  • kranjska kobasice or smoked Polish sausage like
  • kiełbasa krajana, cut into 4-inch lengths
  • 1 pound smoked ribs or meaty smoked
  • ham hocks
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • Salt, pepper and
  • Vegeta to taste (see more about Vegeta, below, after the recipe directions)

How to Make It

  1. Drain the beans you have soaked overnight, rinse and drain again. Place in a large pot and add 12 cups fresh cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
  2. Add garlic, onion, smoked sausage of choice, smoked ribs or meaty smoked ham hocks, bay leaf, salt, pepper and Vegeta seasoning powder to taste.
  3. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 to 3 hours or until beans and meat are tender. Add water, as needed, while cooking, stirring occasionally.
  1. Remove bay leaf and discard. Remove bones from rib meat or hocks and return meat to the pot. If soup isn't thick enough, continue to simmer until desired consistency is achieved. Serve in heated bowls with hearty bread and a glass of beer.

About Vegeta Seasoning

Vegeta is made in Croatia by the Podravka company, which describes it as an "all-purpose seasoning made from a special blend of the finest vegetables, herbs, spices and select natural ingredients."

It is the go-to seasoning in Balkan and Slavic Eastern European countries alike used to flavor foods from soups to veggies to meats and poultry. For some, the problem lies in one of its ingredients -- MSG, which can pose a real problem to people allergic to it. Now the company makes a No-MSG-Added Vegeta but it still contains loads of sodium.

This Homemade Sodium-Free, MSG-Free Vegeta Recipe is very similar to the one manufactured by Podravka. Real veggies are roasted until dehydrated and then whizzed into a powder. Store the resulting mixture in a screw-top jar in a cool, dry place.