As a girl, I was not a big fan of fish soups but I’ve grown to like them. And it was Istrian fish soups in particular that changed my mind. Apart from fish, I also love all vegetable soups, not just for starters, but as a snack or as something to warm me up after a walk in the cold rain or snow, too.
The name comes from Italian “minestra”, meaning ‘soup’. It’s a classic Istrian soup delicacy made from vegetables, making it suitable for vegetarians, but you can also add meat to it for all the meat lovers out there. The main ingredients of this traditional soup are beans, corn, potatoes, and dried meat. You can add other vegetables to make it even tastier. The main ingredient changes the maneštra’s name, so there’s maneštra od bobići (corn), jota (sour cabbage), beans with sour beets, barley etc. My favorite is chickpeas and Brussel sprouts, giving maneštra a unique aroma.
This soup can last for several days, just like beans and other stewed vegetables. If made with bacon or dried meat, add vegetables after it’s been cooking for half to a full hour. Chard, spinach, cauliflower and parsley should be added at the very end.
The traditional Istrian soup is most often made from white fish. An example of an excellent soup would be the Savudrian Sole Soup. What makes it stand out is rice. Everything else is similar to other soups: carrot, celery, parsley, potatoes, spices – depending on your preference. Once the fish is boiled, it’s removed from the soup, cut into small pieces and put back in. For an even better taste, you can add white wine, which I can personally recommend.
If you still haven’t, now is the perfect time to try the Istrian Bean Soup because it’s delicious. You don’t need much to make it, apart from beans, vegetables and spices. The secret ingredient is the prosciutto bone that gives it that special taste. If you’re a fan of sour flavors, add some vinegar to make it just right for you.