Traditional Polish Bean Soup (Zupa Fasolowa)

by Jan Vasil
Traditional Polish Bean Soup (Zupa Fasolowa)

Zupa Fasolowa, or Polish Bean Soup, is a hearty and flavorful staple in Polish cuisine. With its rich blend of beans, vegetables, and spices, this soup has been warming the hearts and bellies of the Polish people for centuries. Perfect for cold winter days or when you just want a bowl of comfort, this traditional dish is sure to become a favorite in your household too.

How to Make a Good Bean Soup?

Creating a delicious bean soup hinges on the harmony of well-prepared beans, a robust broth, and a flavorful blend of vegetables and spices. To achieve this, it’s crucial to select fresh beans, as older beans might not soften adequately and can take longer to cook. Soaking the beans is a crucial step, as it not only expedites the cooking process but also aids in digestion.

To lay the foundation for a tasty soup, one should begin with a rich broth, be it vegetable, chicken, or beef. The act of sautéing vegetables like onions, garlic, carrots, and celery prior to adding the broth can significantly amplify the soup’s flavor. And lastly, a generous hand with herbs and spices, incorporating ingredients like bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and cumin, can truly elevate your bean soup to the next level.

What to Add to Bean Soup?

The versatility of bean soup is one of its standout features. To enhance its richness and complexity, consider incorporating a range of vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and spinach. For those seeking a protein kick, smoked sausage, bacon, ham hocks, or even tofu make excellent additions.

To make the soup even more substantial, you can introduce grains like barley, rice, or quinoa. And when it comes to herbs and spices, the inclusion of bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, cumin, and smoked paprika can work wonders. Lastly, a touch of acidity, be it from lemon juice or vinegar, can invigorate and brighten the soup’s flavors.

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How Do You Prepare Beans for Soup?

The journey to a delicious bean soup starts with meticulous preparation of the beans themselves. This begins by spreading the beans on a flat surface to meticulously remove any unwanted stones or debris. Following this, the beans should be washed under running water to remove any residual dirt. To ensure the beans cook evenly and are easier to digest, they should be soaked, preferably overnight.

However, if you’re pressed for time, a quick soak method involving boiling the beans briefly and then letting them sit for an hour works just as well. Once soaked, the beans should be drained and rinsed before being added to the soup.

Should I Soak Beans Before Making Soup?

The act of soaking beans before making soup is highly recommended. This process not only considerably shortens the beans’ cooking time but also aids in breaking down some of the complex sugars that are known to cause gas, making the beans more digestible. Moreover, beans that have been pre-soaked tend to cook to a more consistent and desirable texture.

How to Thicken Bean Soup?

Achieving the desired consistency in bean soup often requires some thickening. One effective method is to use an immersion blender to puree a portion of the soup and then reincorporate this puree back into the pot. For those looking for a more rustic texture, the addition of potatoes, grains, or pasta can naturally densify the soup.

Alternatively, a roux, made by blending equal parts of flour and fat like butter, can be whisked into the soup to give it a creamier consistency.

How Do You Add Flavor to Bland Bean Soup?

A bland bean soup can be rejuvenated and enhanced in numerous ways. Introducing acids like lemon juice, vinegar, or even a touch of yogurt can inject a burst of freshness into the soup. Freshly chopped herbs such as parsley, cilantro, or dill can also impart a refreshing aroma and taste.

If the soup lacks depth, spices like cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, or cumin can be added. For a deeper, more savory note, umami boosters like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or even a piece of parmesan rind can be infused into the soup.

Why Does My Bean Soup Have No Flavor?

A flavorless bean soup can often be attributed to several factors. One common culprit is under-seasoning. Beans inherently require a significant amount of salt to bring out their flavor. It’s imperative to taste and adjust the seasoning at multiple stages during the cooking process. Using beans that have been stored for a long time might result in them not absorbing flavors effectively.

A lackluster soup can also emerge from using plain water instead of a seasoned broth. Moreover, bypassing the step of sautéing vegetables can rob the soup of potential flavor layers. With due attention to these nuances, a basic bean soup can be transformed into a delectable dish.

Traditional Polish Bean Soup (Zupa Fasolowa)

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Jan Vasil Course: Recipe bookCuisine: PolishDifficulty: easy


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  • 500 g 500 white beans (e.g., navy beans or cannellini beans), soaked overnight

  • 1 large 1 onion, diced

  • 2 2 carrots, peeled and diced

  • 1 1 parsnip, peeled and diced

  • 1 1 leek, cleaned and sliced

  • 2 cloves 2 garlic, minced

  • 200 g 200 smoked bacon or sausage, diced

  • 2 liters 2 water or broth

  • 2 2 bay leaves

  • 5 5 allspice berries

  • 2 tsp 2 marjoram

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 tbsp 1 vegetable oil or lard

  • 1 tbsp 1 tomato paste (optional)

  • 1 1 -2 potatoes, diced (optional)


  • In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil or lard. Add the diced bacon or sausage and fry until lightly browned.
  • Add the onion, carrots, parsnip, and leek to the pot. Sauté the vegetables until they become soft and translucent.
  • Stir in the minced garlic and sauté for another minute.
  • Drain the soaked beans and add them to the pot along with the water or broth.
  • Add the bay leaves, allspice berries, marjoram, and tomato paste (if using). Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.
  • (Optional) If you’re using potatoes, add them about 30 minutes before the soup is done.
  • Adjust the seasoning as needed and serve hot. You can garnish with fresh herbs or serve with a slice of rye bread.

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Can I use canned beans instead of dried beans?

Yes, you can use canned beans. If using canned beans, reduce the cooking time as they are already cooked. Make sure to rinse them thoroughly before adding them to the soup.

What can I use as a substitute for smoked bacon or sausage?

You can use smoked tofu or any smoked meat of your choice. The key is to have a smoky flavor in the soup.

How can I make this soup vegetarian or vegan?

Omit the bacon or sausage and use vegetable broth instead of meat-based broth. You can also add smoked paprika to get a smoky flavor.

Can I freeze this soup?

Yes, Zupa Fasolowa freezes well. Let the soup cool down completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

What can I serve with this soup?

Polish Bean Soup is often served with rye bread or rolls. You can also pair it with a side salad or pickled vegetables for a complete meal.

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Dive into the rich tapestry of Central Eastern European culture with “Taste Is Yours,” a culinary journey that celebrates the region’s deep-rooted gastronomic traditions. From the hearty stews of Hungary to the iconic dumplings of Poland, our blog is a tribute to the authentic dishes that have graced family tables for generations.


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