Hearty Winter Soup

This is the perfect sort of soup to eat on really cold winter days. I like to prepare it in time to serve upon return from a trek in the forest through the snow. Nothing else is necessary after a couple of bowlfuls, except maybe a dish of baked apples or some sliced oranges. A good rich red wine like a Merlot complements the flavours perfectly.


  • 300 g (10 oz) dried borlotti, kidney or cannellini beans, soaked overnight
  • 150 g (5 oz) pork belly, diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or pork dripping
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 50 g ( oz) lard
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, very finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoon polenta (yellow cornmeal)
  • 100 g ( oz) smoked streaky bacon or pancetta
  • 300 g (10 oz) sauerkraut
  • salt


Drain the beans, put them in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. After 10 minutes, drain and rinse, then cover with about 1.5 litres ( pints) cold water and the diced pork belly. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer slowly. Fry the oil and flour together to make a roux, then stir it into the beans. Continue to cook for approximately half-an-hour.

Fry the lard, onion, sage, garlic and parsley together until amalgamated. Add the polenta then add this to the beans. Stir and simmer for another 30 minutes. Fry the bacon until the fat is running and sizzling, add the sauerkraut and stir together, then mix into the soup. Taste for seasoning.