Bulgarian Monastery Bean Soup


Today’s recipe is an excellent illustration of why one should hire a recipe tester before publication – or at least do some basic logic-oriented proofreading! There are poorly-worded directions, ingredients out of order, and an entire set of instructions which go nowhere and leave the reader hanging. No bueno, my friends. Muy mal.

Ingredients out of order are a large problem for the home cook. It is very annoying to read through a recipe, begin cooking, and then realize that something is missing. Preparation instructions are also important. I would like to point out to the publisher of today’s recipe that carrots are round. You do not cube carrots. I know that this is a small detail, but details are important.

The most notable problem with this recipe involves the preparation and addition of the paprika. The technique described is borrowed from Indian cooking, and is called chaunk: spices and seasonings are fried briefly in a small amount of oil to enhance their flavor, and then added to a dish. This recipe totally screws up the concept. The amount of oil used is WAY too much: 1/2 cup?! If I actually added this much oil to a soup, it would be disgusting. 1 tablespoon would have been sufficient. Still, even with a corrected amount of oil, the recipe has a still larger problem: after the instructions to prepare the paprika in oil, there is absolutely NO further reference to said paprika or oil whatsoever! If I had made this soup precisely according to the recipe, I would have ended up with a pot of somewhat inoffensive soup, and a skillet full of red, burnt oil sitting on my stove until the cows came home. Not acceptable, recipe publisher. You fail the test.

I chose to avoid the paprika-oil-chaunk problem altogether, and simply add 1/2 tablespoon of paprika directly to the soup. The resulting flavor was pretty good, and I would make this again – my rewrite, not the original.


  • 1 pound dried lima beans
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint, or 1-2 tablespoons dried mint
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • Parsley to garnish


In a large pot, soak the beans in water for several hours.


Bring the water-covered beans to a boil, and add the onion and carrots.

Boil for 30-45 minutes, or until the beans become soft.


Add the mint, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for another 15 minutes.


Add the tomato paste, paprika, and salt, and simmer over low heat until ready to serve.

Serve warm, and garnished with parsley.


Serves 6-8.

Click here for a print-friendly version.


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