If you ask me, when we talk about comfort food, nothing can beat Jota - thick bean and sauerkraut soup. It's one of those ancient dishes that no one can really tell where and when was prepared for the first time. It is topical staple food in Dalmatia, Istria, Slovenia and part of northmen Italy (around Trieste). Each region has its own variant, but two main ingredients beans and sauerkraut are the basics! If you are interested to learn more about history of this meal, original recipes... read the article about it.
I'm bringing you the recipe that I use. I do make variations with meat that I use. This time I used sausages but any other smoked meat like the knuckle of prosciutto, or pork ribs will do just fine if not even better.
Jota - bean and sauerkraut soup
250 gram beans
500 gram sauerkraut
sausages or other smoked meat according preference
100 gram fine-cut bacon
1 onion, fine-cut
2 cloves of garlic
carrot, according preference (I like to use lots of carrot)
parsley and celery root
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
0.5 dl olive oil
Soak the beans overnight. I didn't have to do this since I had young beans that didn't needed soaking and long cooking. Instead I precook it for 1 hour.
Heath the olive oil in the large pot, add bacon and fry for 2-3 minutes on medium heath.
Add onion and brown it.
Add sliced carrot, parsley and celery root. This is not the part of the original recipe but I prefer it this way.
Add the sausages and let them burn a bit just to add the taste of sausage to the aromats.
Pour in the stock, bay leaf, salt, paper to taste. Add beans and cook until beans are almost completely soft.
Add sauerkraut. Pour more stock if needed.
Cook until beans and sauerkraut are completely tender.
Jota lets you be creative so use that. You can make numberless variations in every step of the recipe. You can use meat, but Jota can be great vegetarian dish too. Instead of sauerkraut you can use soured swede (purist will insist it is not Jota anymore, but trust me it is delicious too). Some add sour cream, some like to tick it with pestata...
Be careful with beans. If us "old" beans it will need longer time to cook. I do not cook sauerkraut too long for two reasons. The first is that I like to "feel" the crispy sauerkraut and secondly because Jota is one of those dishes that you prepare to eat for at least two days so you will re-heath it few times and sauerkraut will get very soft at the end.
As you can see, Jota is "flexible" so there are no reason not to do cook it today. Let me know how it worked for you.