This hearty soup is enormously popular in and around Trieste. In restaurants, the meat that has been simmered in the soup is usually lifted out before the soup is served and offered later as a separate course. At home, it's more typically removed from the bone and mixed into the soup.
1/2 lb. dried borlotti beans or kidney beans
2 smoked ham hocks
1 lb. pork ribs
2 bay leaves
1/4 lb. (4 strips) bacon, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 lbs. sauerkraut, drained
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put beans into a large heavy-bottomed pot, cover with cold water by at least 3", and set aside to soak at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain beans in a colander, then rinse and drain again. Return beans to pot, add ham hocks, pork ribs, bay leaves, and 12 cups cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming any foam that rises to the surface.
2. Meanwhile, mince bacon and garlic together with a sharp kitchen knife until they form a smooth paste, then add to pot with beans. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until beans are just soft, about 1 hour.
3. Rinse sauerkraut thoroughly in a large bowl of cold water, then drain in a colander and rinse again. Drain sauerkraut and add to pot with beans. Add potatoes to pot and continue simmering, partially covered, until potatoes are soft when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30 minutes.
4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a large bowl and coarsely mash with back of spoon. Return mashed potatoes to pot and season to taste with salt and pepper. Partially cover pot and continue simmering soup, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20–30 minutes more. Pick meat off bones, discarding skin and bones, and add meat to soup, if you like. Discard bay leaves before serving.