Jota – sauerkraut and bean stew

This jota recipe is one of Friuli Venezia Giulia's most famous dishes and showcases the prominent Austrian influence on the northern Italian region's cuisine. Beans and sauerkraut are cooked together with pancetta, potatoes, cumin and bay leaves to create a stew or thick soup that's perfect for staving off the cold alpine weather.

First published in 2018
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Jota is the star of the winter cuisine of Trieste in Friuli Venezia Giulia. It’s a thick, comforting bean and potato soup married with sharp sauerkraut – known locally as capuzi garbi or crauti – and packs a solid carbohydrate punch, perfect for cold weather. It’s often served with thick pancetta, pork belly, or Austrian-style sausages.

The name jota is thought to come from the late Latin word for soup. The dish probably originated in the early seventeenth century when capuzi garbi was lengthened with beans, a product freshly arrived from the New World and cultivated in Friuli. Today the soup is made with borlotti beans or fagioli di Lamon, a typical product from the neighbouring Veneto region.

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

  • 300g of borlotti beans, (dried)
  • 1.5l water
  • 10g of rock salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 100g of pancetta
  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 450g of sauerkraut
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • black pepper

Equipment

  • Food processor or blender

Method

1
Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water
2
The next day, drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan with the water, salt, bay leaves and pancetta. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 ½ hours
3
Peel and cut the potatoes into large dice. Add them to the beans and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Check that the beans and potatoes are tender
4
Meanwhile, heat the oil gently in a frying pan. Add the whole clove of garlic to the oil and then the sifted flour. Stir with a whisk for a couple of minutes until the flour begins to turn golden. Remove the garlic and then set aside
5
In a separate frying pan, cook the sauerkraut and cumin seeds gently for about ten minutes
6
Remove about a quarter of the beans and potatoes from the water and blitz in a blender until smooth. Add the mixture back into the saucepan and stir until combined with the water to thicken
7
Add the sauerkraut and the flour mixture to the saucepan and continue to cook gently for about ten minutes. Check seasoning and add salt if necessary
8
Remove the pancetta and chop it into small pieces, if needed
9
Serve in bowls topped with the pancetta and plenty of black pepper

Discover more about this region's cuisine:

Luca Marchiori is a food writer, recipe developer and food historian. His blog Luca’s Italy is all about discovering authentic Italian food and sharing the recipes that Italians really eat.

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