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Balkan Beef and Bean Soup

What's The Big Idea?

Very much a "regional" rather than a national dish, this is typical of a style of cooking in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia, so you could use it if any of those nations - or teams from that region - are playing.

Traditionally this is made using dried haricot beans, and I've stuck to that tradition for the purposes of this recipe. This does mean that the beans need a lot of time in soaking, cooking and preparation, so if you prefer to take a short cut by using tinned beans, then of course feel free to do so.

It certainly makes for a hearty warming meal, especially when served with mountains of buttered mashed potato or plenty of fresh crusty bread. Whether it's technically a soup or a stew is a bit of a grey area, but it'll fill you up either way!

Shopping List

Here's the list of what you need:

  • 200g dried haricot beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 50g pork fat
  • 300g left-over cooked beef, cubed
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 280g sweetcorn (fresh, tinned or frozen)
  • 150g peas (fresh, tinned or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • A few sprigs of rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

What To Do

  • Place the beans in a large saucepan with 2 litres of water, cover and leave to soak overnight
  • Add the salt and pepper, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours
  • Melt the fat in a frying pan, and fry the onion, garlic and beef for 10 minutes
  • When the beans are soft, add the fried ingredients, the peas, sweetcorn, tomatoes and herbs
  • Season to taste and simmer for a further ten minutes

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