This Lobio recipe is one of the most popular and delicious dishes of Georgian cuisine. Best when made with dry beans, but canned beans are always an option when in a hurry. This recipe is vegan, very easy to make and loaded with healthy ingredient and incredible aroma.
For a very long time I was hesitant to post this Lobio recipe because every food photographer would agree – beans are not the prettiest thing to take pictures of.
But now that beans are number 1 item in everyone’s pantry, I decided that the timing couldn’t be perfect for sharing this simple yet A-M-A-Z-I-N-G Georgian Red Bean Stew.
What is Lobio?
Lobio is one of those recipes that highlights the simplicity yet uniqueness of the Georgian cooking.
Traditionally, Lobio was prepared using Dolichos, a type of legumes. After regular beans have become wildly popular in cooking, they replaced Dolichos and most Lobio recipes are now prepared with either red/white beans or green beans.
The basic recipe envisions soaking dry beans overnight and then cooking them in water until they’re soft and fully cooked.
The most essential additions to Lobio are sautéed onion and herbs such as cilantro. Skinned tomatoes, garlic and walnuts are also one of the most added ingredients.
How to eat Lobio?
Lobio can be served warm or cold. You can also sprinkle it with marinated onions and/or pomegranate seeds.
In Georgia, Lobio is served alongside a traditional Georgian bread Shotis Puri. Its shape resembles Khachapuri but it doesn’t have the latter’s distinctive cheese filling.
The main 2 ingredients in Lobio are beans and walnuts. When in comes to beans, you can use any variety that you have. In Georgia, Red Kidney beans are used most often.
I also found that the combination of Kidney beans and Great Northern Beans makes a wonderful Lobio.
Other ingredients in this recipe are:
- olive oil – if you follow no oil plant-based diet, you can use veggie broth or water
- onion – makes a base for the stew
- beans – use Kidney beans or in combination with other beans that you have on hands. Dry beans are preferred but you can use canned beans as well
- walnuts – these are superfoods that supply us with important Omega-3 fatty acids
- Hmeli-Suneli is one of the best spices in Caucasian recipes. You can always find Hmeli-Suneli on Amazon, in European grocery stores in your area or you can make it yourself. See the instructions below
- cilantro – provides with additional flavor and is also believed to pull heavy metals out of the body
- garlic – always a “must” in Caucasian cuisines
- tomato juice is used for thinning out the sauce, but bean cooking liquid can be used as well
- Cayenne pepper – for an extra kick, but this ingredient is optional
- Balsamic vinegar
How to make Georgian Red Bean Stew
- Soak and cook the beans – add beans to a large bowl, fill it with water and soak the beans for at least 10 hours or overnight. Then, rinse them a few times and cook on a medium heat for about 1 or 2 hours. One hour into the cooking remove 3 beans from the pot and taste them. If all of them are soft – beans are ready; If you use canned beans, move on to the next step.
- Mash the beans – drain cooked beans and reserve all cooking liquid. Using a potato masher, mash half of the beans. If you’re using canned beans, drain them, reserve the liquid and mash half of the beans.
- Chop the walnuts – I like using food processor. Simply pulse the walnuts until they are a size of a buckwheat seed. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop the walnuts by hand or add them to a plastic bag, seal it and pound with a rollin pin.
- Sauté the onion – you need to sauté it for about 7 to 10 minutes until it’s very soft and starts to brown. Add mashed beans, spices, walnuts and necessary liquid and simmer for 5 minutes. Finish off by adding garlic and cilantro and cooking for another 30 seconds.
How to make Hmeli-Suneli at home?
Hmeli-Suneli can easily be made at home. Simple combine the following spices:
- 2 tbsp dill weed
- 2 tbsp marjoram
- 2 tbsp basil
- 2 tbsp coriander
- a tiny pinch of Cayenne pepper
- a tiny pinch of saffron
Storing and freezing
Lobio will keep well for 4 days in the refrigerator.
It freezes great as well. Just let it cool before freezing and transfer Lobio to a freezer-safe container. Lobio will keep well for 2-3 months in a freezer.
You can thaw it in the fridge overnight or under cold water in the sink. To reheat, simply add thawed Lobio into a cooking pot and simmer for 5 minutes. If it gets too dry, add a bit of olive oil or water.
- 1 c dry Kidney Bean Note 1
- 1 c dry Great Northern Beans
- 1 c walnuts
- 2 tbsp olive oil you can replace with veggie broth or water
- 1 large onion very finely minced
- 1 ½ tsp Hmeli-Suneli Note 2 for substitution tips
- ¼ tsp Cayenne pepper optional
- 2 c tomato juice Note 3
- 1 tsp Balsamic vinegar Note 4
- salt, pepper
- 2 c cilantro finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- Rinse the beans and place them in a bowl with water. The water should cover the beans by 3-4 inches. Soak the beans overnight or for 10-12 hours.
- Drain the soaked beans and rinse them a few times. Transfer the beans into a cooking pot, fill it with water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 1-2 hours. One hour into the cooking remove 3 beans from the pot and taste them. If all of them are soft - beans are ready.
- Drain the beans reserving all cooking liquid. Return half of the beans to a cooking pot and mash them with a potato masher.
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan and over medium heat. Add onion and sauce for 10 minutes until it's soft and translucent. Add beans, walnuts, Hmeli-Suneli, Cayenne pepper, 1 cup of tomato juice and Balsamic vinegar. Give everything a nice stir and add more tomato juice if necessary to thin out Lobio. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add garlic pushed through a garlic press, cilantro, stir for 30 seconds and remove from the heat. Lobio is ready.
- Beans - here you can use Kidney beans or Great Northern Beans or both like I did.
- Tomato juice is used for thinning out Lobio, making it less thick. If you don't have tomato juice, you can use bean cooking water. Make sure not to discard it after you cook the beans. If you're making Lobio with canned beans, use bean liquid. If it's not enough, use plain boiled water.
- Balsamic Vinegar - if you don't use tomato juice in this recipe, increase the amount of Balsamic vinegar to 1 tablespoon.