Bean goulash – Babgulyás

Bean goulash is similar to the traditional gulyás, but instead of potatoes it’s made with dried beans. In Hungary pinto beans are the most commonly used variety, but any kind of dried beans can serve the purpose. Concerning the meat the best choice is beef, one of the tastiest cuts is shank, which is perfect for long time cooking; babgulyás, however, can be also made with smoked and/or unsmoked pork. The soup is thick enough without noodles, but you can add pinched noodles (csipetke) if you want; in this case add the noodles to the soup 15-20 minutes before you finish cooking.

Bean goulash / Babgulyásphoto:


  • 600 g (~1 1/3 lb) boneless beef shank, cut into 2-3 cm/1 inch chunks
  • 400 g  (~1 lb) pinto beans
  • 1 tbsp lard
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tbps hot paprika (optional)
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 5-6 black pepper corns
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 2-3 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 wax pepper in whole
  • 1 small tomato in whole
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 parsley roots, diced
  • a small slice of celery root (approx. 50 g / 1 3/4 oz), diced
  • small bunch of parsley, finely choppped

Cover the pinto beans with 3 inches of water and soak overnight. The following day drain and discard soaking water. Place the beans in a medium sized pot and cover with 1 inch of water. (You may add a teaspoon of homemade seasoning blend.) Cook until beans are halfway done. Drain and set aside.

In a separate pot heat lard and sauté finely chopped onion and garlic. Add beef shank and fry until all sides turn white. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with paprika, add bay leaf, black pepper corns and caraway seeds, and give it a stir. Pour in 6 cups / 1,5 liters of water and return the pot to the heat. Salt and pepper, and add wax pepper and tomato in whole. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer. Keep adding more water as the cooking liquid boils away.

Once the meat is halfway cooked, add diced carrots, parsley roots, celeriac and pre-cooked beans. Add more water if needed (the dish shall look like a thick soup, not a stew) and adjust salt. Simmer until tender. Turn off the heat and add finely chopped parsley. Cover and let the soup steep for 30-40 minutes before serving.

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