Vipavska corba is a Slovenian stew of sauerkraut, white beans and bacon. It is very similar to the favorite dish of Trieste, Italy: white bean and sauerkraut soup. But the Slovenians, being very fond of fatty soups and stews, add a pound of bacon to their sauerkraut soup.
The basic cooking of this stew can be done ahead and the soup put together in a few minutes. This is actually the traditional way of preparing this stew as the Slovenians prefer to cook all the ingredients separately and then mix them together at the last minute. Serve the Corba with a sour rye bread and fresh butter.
Borovnica Viaduct, Slovenia
The following recipe comes from Ann Rogers’s delightful austerity cookbook, The New Cookbook for Poor Poets and Others (1966).
1 pound small white beans
1 two-pound jar sauerkraut
1 pound slab bacon
1 pound potatoes
1 tablespoon fat
1 tablespoon flour
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
2 or 3 bay leaves
salt and pepper
sour cream or yogurt
Soak the beans overnight. Remove the ring from the bacon but leave it in one piece. Cut the potatoes into small chunks. Cook the beans, bacon, and potatoes separately. Keep the stock!
Chop onion and garlic and saute them in one tablespoon of the fat that has risen to the top of the bacon stock. Sprinkle in flour and stir. Then add the beans, potatoes, sauerkraut, bacon that has been cut in dice, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Add more water if necessary. Cover and cook until heated through. Top each serving with sour cream or yogurt.
If one pound of bacon is too dear, the quantity can be reduced.
On a cold evening in 1846, a county archivist stopped by a local inn in Budapest. He was famished and tried to order one of his favorite dishes. But it was close to closing time at the little inn and there was nothing to be served but pork and some leftover sauerkraut. His hunger spurring him on, the little archivist, who went by the name Jozsef Székely, demanded that the few scraps of food left in the kitchen be thrown together and heated into a stew. He found the resulting dish so delightful that he returned to the inn, with friends in tow, to order this new goulash dish. The poet Sándor Petőfi later christened this new goulash dish Székelygulyás.
Below is a recipe for this delicious and economical meal from Hungary Starts Here, a delightful blog on the fascinating cuisine of Hungary.
1/2 kilo meat (pork shoulder/leg or turkey’s leg), 1 kilo sauerkraut (pickled cabbage), 1 medium onion, 1 tbs red paprika powder, water, oil, salt and ground black pepper and marjoram to taste.
Ingredients for the roux: 1 cup sour cream, 1 tbs flour.
1. Make a pörkölt (stew). I mean that heat the oil in a large pot and the sliced onions and sauté until they get a nice golden brown color. Add the meat cube and sauté together until the meat begin to whiten. Sprinkle them with paprika powder and sauté a bit more. Add the salt and ground black pepper and marjoram, pour water enough to cover the content of the pan and let it simmer on low heat for the meat is half-cooked.
2. Rinse the sauerkraut (so it’s not too sour). Afterwards steam the sauerkraut in oil until it’s half-cooked.
3. Add the steamed sauerkraut to the pörkölt and cooked together until the meat cubes and sauerkraut are also softened.
4. Mix flour with the sour cream in a soup-plate and add one big spoon soup, mixed well. When cool enough the soup carefully add the whole mixed and boil again.
5. Finally if necessary add more spice and a little (just one or two teaspoon) juice of rinsed sauerkraut. This step is the second most important secret.
In her introduction to Two Hundred and Seventy-Five War-Time Recipes (1918), Carolyn Putnam Webber writes that the recipes in her book originally appeared “on the slips used at demonstration lectures,” but that she had assembled them for everyday use. She confesses that her recipes represent her belief that “true economy does not consist of going without but in making the most of what one has.” Expressing her conviction that frugal housekeepers in the United States represent a “volunteer army,” Webber adamantly stresses that their efforts can “help avoid rations or restricted diets and stabilize prices.”
Below are two recipes from Webber’s book. They can be served together, or as separate dinners. For the English stew, use whatever meat is most economical. And the samp for the baked samp recipe is not hard to find: Samp is the same thing as hominy, save that it is cracked into smaller pieces.
English Stew with Barley
1 lb mutton
4 potatoes sliced
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 tsp chopped parsley
Cut meat in small pieces and brown with onions in fat from meat. Add barley and 2 quarts cold water. Simmer in covered dish 1 1/2 hours. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are soft.
2 c. boiled samp
1 tbsp. butter substitute
1/4 tsp paprika
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
Arrange samp, cheese and seasoning in alternate layers. Add milk, put crumbs on top, bake 20 minutes.