Recipe of the Month

(Bean and Sauerkraut Soup)

This soup—also spelled “iota”—is considered to be one of Trieste’s native dishes. A similar soup is made in Carnia using brovada (fermented turnips) in place of the sauerkraut.

8 ounces dried borlotti (cranberry) beans
2 bay leaves
8 cups water
1 pound white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 cups sauerkraut
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In advance, place the beans in a medium bowl and cover with water. Let soak for at least 12 hours, or overnight; drain.

Place the beans in a large pot, along with the bay leaves and 8 cups water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, for 2-1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a medium pot filled with water; bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and divide into two portions; mash half the potatoes, leaving the other half in cubes.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and garlic; cook and stir until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and caraway seeds; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Add the sauerkraut and black pepper; cook and stir until thickened, about 4–5 minutes.

After the beans have simmered for 2-1/2 hours, remove half the beans, plus a little of the liquid; purée in a blender or food processor. Add the puréed beans back to the pot, along with the sauerkraut mixture and potatoes; return to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves; season to taste with salt.

Serves 6.