Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Serbian Bean & Sauerkraut Soup – Grah i Kupus

Every eastern European country has their version of this soup. Jota, Kupusnyak, Grah i kupus, Kupus i Grah….whatever…...it is delicious!  My Dad used to make this for us when he had a day off from the mill.  He was a great cook!  My Teta would serve it with diced potatoes in it.  I’ve done it with potatoes when my version came out too salty, as the potatoes would absorb some of the salt.  Just depends on the sauerkraut and how well you rinse it. My Baba used to serve it with a side of polenta.
I save the hocks and less desirable pieces of our roasted Christmas suckling pig, Pečenica, and freeze them for soup making during the winter months.  Smoked hocks can be purchased at any supermarket near the bacon section.  I load up on smoked ribs whenever I can find them.  Use bacon if you can’t find any. 

Serbian Bean & Sauerkraut Soup – Kupus i Grah
1/2 lb. dried pinto beans, cranberry or kidney beans  (may use more)
2 smoked ham hocks
1 lb. smoked pork ribs
12 to 15 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, smashed, but whole
2 lbs.  sauerkraut, drained
1 lb of kielbasa (optional)
3 potatoes, peeled and chunked (optional)
Few splashes of Liquid Smoke (if you have no smoked meat)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the pinto beans and soak them overnight in about 1gallon water.  Sort and clean the beans and transfer them to a large pot or Dutch oven with 1 gallon water. (Or if you forget like I usually do, use the quick soak method.  Cover beans with water, bring to a rapid boil, shut off the heat, cover for an hour and drain and rinse.)  Add water, ham hocks, pork ribs, bay leaves and garlic and bring to a boil again, skimming off any foam that may arise to the top. Rinse sauerkraut thoroughly in a colander. Drain sauerkraut and add to pot with beans Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 2 to 3 hours until beans are tender, adding more water, if necessary.
Clean meat off of bones and return to soup. Discard bay leaves before serving.  Prepare the roux for thickening and flavor of the soup.  Don't skip this step.

Zafrig (roux)

  • cup oil or bacon grease
  • 1 large onion
  • cup flour
  • ½  tsp paprika
Prepare the zafrig (roux). Use equal parts oil to flour. Saute onion in oil or bacon grease in large skillet until translucent. Add flour, salt, pepper and paprika (for slight color), stirring to prevent burning, until zafrig starts to brown (5 minutes maybe). Remove from heat and pour over soup. Add 1 cup cold water into pan, scrape bottom, stir until thickened and add to soup. Mix well and cook for another ½ hour or so.  This soup thickens when refrigerated because of the ham hocks and only GETS BETTER the next day.  We like to serve ours with finely chopped raw onion on top.

    Soaking the pinto beans

    Smoked pork hocks

    Smoked pork ribs

    Yum.....better the next day!



    1. This recipe is very close to my mom's posule without kupus....love it..!

      thx Martha

    2. Similar to my Baba's recipe, except we boil the pinto for 2 hours (I get most of the scummy stuff off during this time), then add 4 to 6 ham hocks and boil another hour and a half. We take out the ham hocks and I put in small chunks of leftover ham because the ham hocks are too fatty for me. But my mom and dad always ate them separately with horseradish. I don't rinse my sauekraut, just squeeze out the juice in a colander. Once I put it in, I make the zafrig, but I add some spices like pepper, onion and garlic powders, and paprika. Delish!