Make Ahead

Bulgarian Bean Soup - Bob Chorba

June  5, 2012
5 Ratings
  • Makes about 5 quarts
Author Notes

Bean soup in Bulgaria is a "national" dish. Most popular is the Monastery Version which is totally vegetarian. When our family makes it, however, we like to add a little meat for a smoky flavor. A smoked ham hock or smoked neck bones along with paprika and fresh mint give this a very distinctive flavor. —inpatskitchen

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, soaked in water for about 6 hours, rinsed and then cooked in water for 45 minutes to an hour until tender
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 1 1/2 cups diced carrot
  • 1 1/2 cups diced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 cups water
  • 5 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 large smoked ham hock
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh winter savory ( or one teaspoon dried savory)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • Additional salt, black pepper and paprika for reseasoning
  1. After cooking your beans, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and add the onion, carrot celery and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onion softens.
  2. Add the crushed red pepper, paprika, salt and black pepper and continue to saute for just a few more minutes.
  3. Add the water, chicken broth and ham hock, bring up to a boil and simmer for about an hour, partially covered.
  4. Remove the ham hock from the pot to let cool. Turn the heat off from under the soup pot and stir in the beans, mint, parsley and savory.
  5. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup for just a minute to break up some of the beans. (Alternatively remove about a cup of the beans to a bowl and mash them with a fork and then return them to the pot)
  6. Remove any meat from the ham hock, dice it finely and return it to the pot. Return the soup to a simmer and reseason with salt, pepper and paprika.
  7. NOTE: This soup is best when made very early in the day or even the day before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mil Dim
    Mil Dim
  • Martin Pacemski-Jones
    Martin Pacemski-Jones
  • boulangere
  • inpatskitchen

Recipe by: inpatskitchen

I think I get my love for food and cooking from my mom, who was an amazing cook. She would start baking and freezing a month before Christmas in order to host our huge open house on Christmas afternoon. I watched and I this day I try not to procrastinate when it comes to entertaining. My cooking style is pretty much all over the place, although I'm definitely partial to Greek and Italian cuisine. Oh yes, throw a little Cajun in there too!

6 Reviews

Mil D. September 18, 2019
Sorry Guys. Nothing to do with the traditional bulgarian bob chorba. Nobody would ever use chicken stock or .. whatever. Bob chorba is pure beans with spearmint (not mint) , and onions and carrots. That's all. Very simple and delicious. This is a very made up recipe that's a deviation from the tradition.
inpatskitchen September 18, 2019
This is my family"s noted in my headnote I'm fully aware that true Bop Chorba is vegetarian. My grandparents came from Bulgaria and probably made the changes as they became a bit more affluent.
Martin P. February 22, 2018
The isn't quite Bob Chorba as there is meat in it. Typically this is eaten during Fasting when no meat apart from certain fish can be eaten. There is a version Bob sus Kyofte which is more of a stew consistency, with something like meatballs but they are more similar to the German Frikadellen. This recipe here is probably more of a celebration version or something more likely a variant Rodope bean stew which does contain a ham hock or gammon piece (used as cold cuts with salad after) and of course served with Rakia (schnapps).
Ray June 13, 2019
I agree with everything you wrote, Martin....except....Rakia is not schnapps...not even close to schnapps. You are clearly not Bulgarian (its ok...I’m not But, I have spent some time in Bulgaria (my girlfriend is Bulgarian)
Rakia is a fruit brandy. Many Bulgarians make rakia at home using grapes, pears, apricots, etc. The most flavorful rakia is homemade, of course. I’ve never had store-bought rakia that even comes close to homemade. Bulgarians also make a lot of homemade wine that is quite delicious as well.
Grab a bottle of Rakia and watch Bulgarian travel videos on YouTube....I guarantee you’ll book your next trip there!
It’s an amazing place!
boulangere June 5, 2012
I love the smoky-mint combination. And anything with beans is aces in my book.
inpatskitchen June 5, 2012
Thanks,b. The mint is my favorite!