Trieste-Style Bean and Sauerkraut Soup


Called jota, this thick, hearty soup is perfect for warming body and soul during the first cold snap. In this version, mushrooms stand in for the traditional Italian bacon, or pancetta, providing a rich undercurrent of flavor without meat or added fat. The soup will taste even better after an overnight rest in the refrigerator. Reheat it gently. Don't neglect to rinse the sauerkraut well or the soup will taste too salty.

  • SERVINGServings


  • 1 & 1/2 cups dried beans, such as borlotti, cranberry, romano or pinto beans (or 4 1/2 cups pre-cooked or canned beans)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 lb. russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced yellow onions
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 lb. sauerkraut, well rinsed
  • 1 Tbs. Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 4 oz. cremini or baby portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley


1. Soak the beans for 12 hours in water to cover by 4 inches. Refrigerate so they do not ferment. Or pour boiling water over the beans to cover by 3 inches, and allow to stand for at least 1 hour, or until the beans swell to twice their size. Drain well. Omit this step if using canned beans.

2. Place the beans, bay leaves and 2 & 1/2 quarts cold water in a soup pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Add the potatoes, and continue cooking for 30 minutes more. Remove the bay leaves, and discard them. Mash the beans and potatoes well with a potato masher.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes more, or until golden brown. Scrape the onion-garlic mixture into the soup pot, and continue cooking.

4. Wipe out the skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the sauerkraut, paprika and caraway seeds. Stir until well combined, and cook until heated through, for about 5 minutes. Add the mixture to the soup pot.

5. Wipe out the skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, and sauté until the mushroom juices evaporate, for about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and parsley, and stir to combine. Scrape the mushrooms into the soup pot.

6. Cook the soup for 15 minutes more over medium-low heat, and thin to a souplike consistency with some vegetable stock, if needed, before serving.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size: Serves 8
  • Calories: 250
  • Carbohydrate Content: 40 g
  • Fat Content: 6 g
  • Fiber Content: 12 g
  • Protein Content: 11 g
  • Saturated Fat Content: 1 g
  • Sodium Content: 120 mg
  • Sugar Content: 3 g