Grah is a hearty stew popular in Bosnia and Croatia made of smoked sausage, beans, vegetables, and the iconic Vegeta seasoning. It is best served in winter to fend off the cold and is often enjoyed alongside a cabbage salad and freshly baked bread.
The stew takes some planning in advance, as its mixture of beans requires a pre-soaking of about eight hours before the stew is left to simmer for up to three hours. Despite the planning required, the actual ingredients of the dish can be quite flexible.
Commonly used beans are pinto, cranberry, and kidney beans, though these can be substituted. For the smoked sausage, try to use kranjska, kobasice, or kiełbasa. For smoked meats, you can use smoked ribs, ham, dried beef, or ham hocks. Just ensure that any bones are removed before serving.
Origin & Cultural Significance
The word ‘grah’ literally means beans, an obvious nod to the main staple of this soup. This particular recipe is eaten in Bosnia and Croatia, where it is called ‘grah i varivah’ or “beans and soup. Beans are an important crop in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, where they can be dried and preserved throughout the long winters.
Grah is often compared to pasulj, a traditional Serbian soup, and has many other similar recipes in the countries surrounding Bosnia and Croatia. While grah is also enjoyed in Albania and Kosovo, Germany has its own version known as serbische bohnensuppe and Macedonia has tavce gravce.
- Dried beans, soaked overnight (pinto, kidney, white, etc) - 1 lb
- Garlic, minced - 4 cloves
- Onion, chopped - 1
- Smoked ribs, ham, dried beef or ham hocks - 1 lb
- Smoked sausage (kranjska, kobasice, or kiełbasa), cut into ½ pieces - 1 lb
- Carrots medium, diced - 4
- Bay leaf - 1
- Vegeta or stock powder - 1 tbsp
- Salt - to taste
- Pepper - to taste
- Prepare beans in advance. Soak them overnight for 8-10 hours and drain when ready. Before starting to cook, rinse once more and drain again.
- Begin to prepare the stew. In a large stock pot on high heat, add 12 cups of water. Place beans inside and bring to a rolling boil briefly before reducing to a simmer.
- Add the rest of your ingredients into the pot– smoked sausage and meat, garlic, onion, carrots, and your seasonings.
- Bring water back to a boil for 3 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer again. Partially cover and leave simmering for 2 ½ to 3 hours, checking every half hour. Stir occasionally and add water if it becomes too reduced.
- Your stew will be done once the beans and the meat are tender. Before serving, remove any bones and remove bay leaf.
- If your stew is not as thick as desired, you can add flour to the water and stir well. Add 2 tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached.
- Serve with warm bread or a cabbage salad. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 218Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 793mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 14g