This is a very hearty soup from a base of pork, beans and potato. Our weather has been perfect for making soup; cold and rainy. This base can be made and and kept in the freezer for another time. Other vegetables can be added or for those meat lovers, kielbasa and Italian sausage can be added. The recipe is from Lidia Bastianich from her Lidia’s Family Table cookbook.  I decided to serve it as is, and only added 10 cups of water instead of her 5 quarts and I still had some leftover to freeze.  You do have to set time to make this, the beans should be soaked overnight and cooking time can take about 3 hours.


  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print


1 1/2 cup of dried cranberry beans soaked overnight in water

10 cups cold water

2 pounds russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes or to taste

For the pestata

3 ounces smoked bacon cut into 1 inch pieces

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

8 plum garlic cloves, peeled

Meat for flavoring

1 pound bony fresh pork hock or neck

For the sofrito

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup canned San Marzano tomatoes

2 teaspoon salt and more to taste



Drain the soaked beans and put them in a pot with the water, potatoes, bay leaves and the hot pepper flakes. Cover and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile make the pestata using a food processor. Scrape every bit into the soup pot. Rinse the pork in hot water and add to the pot. Bring to a full boil and reduce heat for a gentle boil. Place the cover ajar and cook for about 1 hour and 1/2. The potatoes and beans should be tender. Skim any excess fat off the top.

Meanwhile make the sofrito. Heat the oil in a small skillet and cook the onions over medium heat for abut 6 minutes, till tender. Crush the tomatoes in your hand and add to the onion with it’s juices. Sir in the salt and simmer rapidly till some of the juices have reduced. Add to the soup pot when the beans and potatoes are tender.

Cook the soup for another 1 hour and 1/2, stirring occasionally. If it’s sticking to bottom lower the heat. Take out the pork and shred the meat off the bone and add to the soup. Fish out the bay leaves and taste for seasoning before serving. 

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