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Easy Ham and Bean Soup Recipe (Pasulj or Grah)

This delicious old-fashioned ham and bean soup is a Balkan classic. Known as grah or pasulj, the dish is so versatile you can use almost any type of meat or dry beans to make it.
5 from 3 votes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Bosnian, Croatian, Kosovo, Macedonian, Montenegro, Serbian, Slovenian
Servings 4
Calories 698 kcal


Soup (stew):

  • 12-14 ounces dry beans (kidney, white northern or canary, etc) look in the notes for more dry bean options
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or coconut or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion large, peeled, minced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves peeled, minced
  • 2 carrots medium, peeled, diced
  • 3-4 ounces ham, bacon, or dried beef diced, look in the notes for more meat options
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • (Optional) 1 tablespoon stock powder, Vegeta, or a bouillon cube
  • 1 bay leaf


  • 5-6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon paprika


  • 1 tablespoon parsley minced


  • Soaking: In a large bowl (or pot) cover beans with water, and leave to soak for 7-8 hours (or overnight).* The following day strain the beans and discard the water. Then wash them again, strain them, and set the beans aside. 
  • Soup: In a deep pot, heat oil over high and add onion and garlic. Lower to medium and simmer until translucent (2-3 minutes). Add carrots and meat. Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes occasionally stirring.
  • Add the seasonings and beans in, and cover with 6-7 cups of water. Mix ingredients well, cover with a lid, and raise the temperature to high until the liquid boils (about 15 minutes). Add the bay leaf in.
  • Bring the temperature down to low, and continue cooking until the beans are tender, but not falling apart.*   (Think about 2.5 hours.) If you lose a lot of liquid, add another cup of water during cooking.
  • Roux: A few minutes before the beans are done, heat the oil up in a small pan over high temperature. Lower the temperature, add flour and stir vigorously for 30 seconds to 1 minute ensuring the mixture doesn't clump. Add paprika in and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes more.
  • Whisk the roux into the soup. Cook soup for an additional 5 minutes and remove off heat. (Optional: discard the bay leaf, and garnish the soup with parsley.)
  • Serve warm.* Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat using your preferred method. If freezing, let cool down to room temp, place in freezer-ware, and freeze for up to 3 months.



  • Video: 
The video shows a variation of today's bean soup with a base of smoked beef (suho meso) instead of ham. The preparation process is exactly the same for both.
  • Cooking time:
The length of cooking time varies depending on the type of bean, age of bean, stove, and whether you're using a pressure cooker/Instant Pot or a regular pot. Younger beans will take a shorter period of time. 
  • Ingredients:
Beans you can use for this ham and bean soup recipe are: cannellini, navy, great northern, canary beans, kidney beans, black beans, cranberry beans, pinto beans, and black-eyed peas. Avoid chickpeas, soybeans and canned beans. 
Meat you can use: ham, bacon, dried or smoked beef, ham hock, ribs, ham bones, beef bones and sausage. Avoid poultry. 
  • Serving:
Grah is best when served along a fresh cabbage salad


Serving: 1of 4Sodium: 423mgCalcium: 116mgSugar: 5.3gFiber: 17.3gPotassium: 1607mgCholesterol: 16mgCalories: 698kcalSaturated Fat: 7gFat: 34.2gProtein: 28.4gCarbohydrates: 72.4gIron: 21mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!