Bean Soup from Trieste

Jota is an ancient dish from Trieste which over the centuries has undergone very few changes; the most significant dates back some four centuries ago, when potatoes were introduced. It was considered a peasant dish made with leftovers and two common ingredients, beans and sauerkraut.

Serves 6 to 8


  • 2 cups dried borlotti or cranberry beans, covered with cold water and soaked overnight
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • Small bouquet fresh herbs such as thyme, bay leaf, rosemary and sage
  • 2 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup finely diced speck (or other smoked ham)
  • 1 14.4-ounce can sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Drain beans and place in pot; cover with vegetable broth; add the herbs and salt and pepper and bring to a boil; cook over medium boil until beans are almost tender; then add potatoes and continue cooking, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet; add onions and speck and cook until onions wilt. Stir in sauerkraut and cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Heat a small skillet and melt the butter; add the flour and whisk the mixture to form a brown paste.
  4. Add the onion mixture to the beans and combine well. Over low heat, whisk in the brown paste and heat soup until hot. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

This recipe was featured on Season 27 - Episode 2706.

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Made this today. Had to use canned beans and prosciutto instead of speck. The sauerkraut makes this dish. Very good, I would make this again.


Made it using dried cranberry beans, soaked for 10 hours, then cooked for more than 2 hours, by which time much of the 8 c. veggie stock had been absorbed, so added more but found soup to be more like a “stoup” than a soup (borrowed a Rachael Ray term there). Speck found at Christmastime at my Aldi’s – Priano brand imported from Italy & sold in 3 oz. pkgs.
Perhaps I too should have used canned beans.
Bottom line: wouldn’t repeat this recipe.

Linda Bowery

Absolutely love watching and learning new recipes.


Couldn’t find Cranberry beans per se but Roman beans look just like them from the Hispanic foods aisle so I bought them. (Googled it when I got home-they are the same bean!) Soaked them for 8 hours and boiled them for about an hour to get soft. Rest of the recipe went just as descibed. I did boil it down to more of a stew consistency but that is for my dietary needs not due to the recipe. (Boil less and keep that lid on if you want a true soup.) Tastes good. Next time I will play more with the flavor profile as we like it a little more…more. good recipe though. We’re making it again. Thank you!


I love this soup! I watched the episode of the show, and was intrigued, so I made a batch using small red beans (I couldn’t find cranberry beans), and we LOVED it. I ordered cranberry beans online, and the second batch was with the cranberry beans, which are likely the most creamy, delectable beans I have ever eaten. I got the roux nice and brown, but found I had to use twice as much butter as the recipe calls for. I typically do a 1:1 ratio of fat to flour for my roux. Great flavors, great texture, and an extremely easy recipe for the amount of flavor that you get. My Whole Foods market carries Speck.


Lidia Bastianich has this soup in one of her beginning cookbooks from the early 1990’s and she does not use flour. My grandmother and other relatives from the region also never used flour (or a roux). Just take out about half the potatoes after they’re cooked, mash them lightly and put them back in. Then cook another 5 minutes. And if the soup boils down too much, add more water or stock. It’s not rocket science here.

You can also add very finely diced or ground bacon, a few pork ribs or diced pancetta.

Otherwise a solid recipe.


This is a popular seasonal (winter) soup, and if you ask 10 Italian or Croatian cooks how to make it, they will give you 15 different recipes! My family version includes most of the same ingredients, except for the flour/roux. Instead of using that for thickening, we take about a cup of the broth and beans and puree them before adding back to the pot. This is a more subtle way of making the soup thicker without the boiling required by a roux. Also, diced carrots add color and a sweet flavor to the salty mix. A big handful of chopped flat leaf parsley added just before serving also adds to the flavor and appearance of an otherwise sort of “muddy” looking soup. It is a delicious, hearty, and savory dish perfect for cold winter days.

Rob J. G

My mother, a native of Istria and Trieste, would also add diced carrot, pearl barley and a ham hock which she would strip the meat of and add to the soup. I loved eating it cold, it was more like a thick stew that a soup.

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