This Lobio recipe is one of the most popular and delicious dishes of Georgian cuisine. Best when made with dried beans, but canned beans are always an option when in a hurry. I'll show you how to make the best Lobio in the whole world. It's very easy, loaded with the healthy ingredients and incredible aroma.
Also try my easy and delicious Cannellini Bean Stew
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.
However considering the fact that beans are number 1 ingredient in everyone's pantry, I decided that I absolutely have to share this simple yet A-M-A-Z-I-N-G Georgian Red Bean Stew.
This recipe is probably my most favorite bean dish along with Moroccan Loubia (sounds similar to Lobio, right?).
I make Lobio very often and make sure to always have Khmeli-Suneli in my pantry. It's a mandatory spice for making Lobio and I'll tell you where to find it.
What is Lobio?
Even though I don't eat meat, I always recommend the above dishes to anyone who wants to try Georgian food.
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 leaves. Skinned tomatoes, garlic and walnuts are also one of the most added ingredients.
Lobio that I'm about to show you is my mom's recipe. I absolutely love her version, because it's easy, savory yet super flavorful and always delicious.
Whenever she makes it, I always ask to double the beans, because this Georgian Lobio is awesome for the meal prep.
Here's Why This Recipe Works
- Lobio stew is super satisfying. Just think about it - protein and fiber-rich beans and ground walnuts are cooked in the aromatic Hmeli-Suneli spice and tomato juice (or bean cooking water). Your kitchen will smell amazing and you'll love the taste of beans. It's unlike any other bean recipes that you've tried before;
- use dried or canned beans. Yes, I've said it. Although authentic Lobio is made with dried red kidney beans, you can absolutely make it with canned kidney or Cannellini beans (also check out my best vegan Cannellini Beans recipes). Make sure not to discard the liquid from the can in case you're using it in place of tomato juice. I myself make Lobio from canned beans quite often and it is just as delicious;
- serve as a stand-alone meal. Unlike most bean dishes that you have to serve with a side dish like rice or pasta, Lobio can be enjoyed on its own. Really, it's packed with good-for-you ingredients, hearty and you won't feel a hunger.
Here's an overview of the specific ingredients for this recipe. For the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.
- beans. Traditionally, Lobio is prepared with red beans. In post Soviet countries, there's not such thing as kidney beans, so any red colored beans might be used. I usually make Lobio with red Kidney beans. However, Adzuki beans or Mexican red beans can also be used. In addition, I love incorporating 2 types of beans into my Lobio: kidney beans and white beans (either Cannellini or Great Northern Beans). This will produce a bean stew that has a beautiful dark orange color. You can stick with just one type of beans;
- walnuts - these are superfoods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids which fights inflammation; Walnuts are a mandatory ingredient in Lobio. They make it heartier, richer in nutrients and the texture is unlike any other bean stew;
- Hmeli-Suneli is one of the best spices in Caucasian recipes. You can always find Hmeli-Suneli on Amazon, in Russian-Urkainian grocery stores in your area or you can make it yourself. See the instructions below;
- fresh cilantro leaves is also a must for Georgian Lobio;
- olive oil. If you follow a no-oil plant-based diet, you can use veggie broth or water
- tomato juice is used for making Lobio less dense. It's not a mandatory ingredient though. You can totally replace it with a bean cooking liquid;
- Soak the beans. Rinse the red kidney beans and white beans and add them to a large bowl. Fill the bowl with water. It should cover the beans completely. Leave it on the counter for at least 8 hours or better overnight to expand.
- Cook the beans. Rinse the soaked beans 1-2 times and cook on a medium heat for about 1 or 1 ½ 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 the mixture of cooked beans and reserve all cooking liquid. Using a potato masher, mash half of the drained beans. If you're using canned beans, drain them, reserve the liquid, transfer the beans into a large bowl 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. If necessary, add more olive oil to prevent the onion from sticking.
- Finish. To a pan with the onion, add mashed beans, spices, walnuts, vinegar and tomato juice (or bean cooking liquid) and simmer for 5 minutes. At this point, I recommend tasting Lobio. What you're looking for is a bean stew that has a consistency of a porridge. It's dense yet creamy at the same time. You should also taste slightly acidity that tomato juice and vinegar is responsible for. You can also use red wine vinegar. The acidity in Lobio is important however it should not feel overpowering. That's why I recommend to start with just a teaspoon of Balsamic vinegar and if you feel like it needs more, add another teaspoon or two.
- Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. Add garlic, garnish with a cilantro and cook for another 30 seconds.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
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.
💭 Frequently Asked Questions
Red kidney beans, nuts, cilantro and spices are the main ingredients of Lobio. Depending on the region and family traditions, there can be different variations of the recipe.
In addition to the onion and garlic, other recipes might incorporate fenugreek, green onion, thyme, coriander, basil, parsley, celery and mint.
The shortest time to cook the beans is 40 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove 3 beans out the pot, wait a few seconds for the beans to cool and try them. All 3 beans have to be completely tender. If they're not, cook them for another 20 minutes and then try the beans again.
8 hours is the minimum time to soak the beans, better overnight. Soaking the beans helps to shorten the cooking time. In addition, beans contain phytates, special substances that hold on to the nutrients in legumes and prevent their absorption. Soaking helps to significantly remove the amount of phytates.
Hmeli-Suneli can easily be made at home. If you have whole seeds, it's best to use mortar and pestle to grind them. Otherwise, in a small bowl combine the following spices:
2 tablespoon dill weed
2 tablespoon marjoram
2 tablespoon basil
2 tablespoon 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.
If you make this recipe, please leave me a comment below and rate it. I always appreciate the feedback. Also, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
If you're looking for a quick overview of the recipe, please check out my Lobio web-story.
- 1 c dry Kidney Bean
- 1 c dry Great Northern Beans
- 1 c walnuts
- 2 tablespoon olive oil you can replace with veggie broth or water
- 1 large onion very finely minced
- 1 ½ teaspoon Hmeli-Suneli
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper optional
- 2 c tomato juice
- 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
- salt, pepper to a taste
- 2 c cilantro finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
Soak the beans
- 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.
Cook the beans
- 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.
Mash the beans
- Drain the beans reserving all cooking liquid. Return half of the beans to a cooking pot and mash them with a potato masher.
Chop the walnuts
- Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until they are a size of a buckwheat seed or smaller. 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
- 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.
2 tablespoon marjoram
2 tablespoon basil
2 tablespoon coriander
a tiny pinch of Cayenne pepper
a tiny pinch of saffron Tomato juice is used for making Lobio less dense. It's not a mandatory ingredient though. 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. Refrigerating. Lobio will keep well for 4 days in the refrigerator. Freezing. 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. Defrosting. You can thaw Lobio 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.