Istrian cuisine

Istrian maneštra

Top 10 Istrian maneštra recipes

Sweet Corn Maneštra
The thick version with sweet corn is the most popular maneštra in Istria. It is made from young corn kernels cut from the cob with a knife, and the remaining sweet kernels scraped off with a spoon. You can also put a few ears of corn in your maneštra. They will be a sweet treat after you've eaten the soup. If you find the "corn moustache" in your soup, don't bother taking it out. Thanks to frozen and canned corn, this maneštra can be eaten all year long.

Ground corn maneštra
Maneštra made from ground corn is completely different from its fresh variant. Corn used to be ground in home mortars or mills. This maneštra is thick, hearty and filling. It’s a shame it is eaten less today, as nobody wants to grind the corn anymore.

Chickpea maneštra
Chickpea has a uniquely rich and mildly salty taste. It yields a hearty, creamy soup. It's part of my usual menu for my most demanding gourmet friends.

Barley maneštra
The barley version has more names than any other Istrian maneštra, including far, šen, zimac, ješprenj, ječmik, stupanje. It is said that this maneštra is extremely good for cleansing the digestive tract. It is rich and smooth and excellent with smoked meat added to it. Warning: if you don't have two bay leaves, do not attempt to prepare this one.

Fennel maneštra
An extraordinary, lightly bitter taste characterizes this maneštra. People that enjoy telling morbid tales claim that the best fennel is found in the graveyard. Pick only the most delicate stocks and mince them into small pieces. It is traditional to toss in a pork tongue.

[Sauerkraut and bean soup]
A maneštra with pickled cabbage is called jota (it is incorrect to say "maneštra from jota"). It has a hearty, tangy taste and typically includes smoked pork spareribs. Some Istrians prefer their maneštra even more sour, so a tablespoon of vinegar is sprinkled on the soup just before serving.

Turnip jota
Even turnip is pickled in Istria, and pickled turnip is used to make exceptionally good jota. Bay leaves are also necessary, as well as larger quantities of meat.

Fresh cabbage maneštra
An exceptionally light maneštra, often enjoyed in winter, is made with fresh cabbage, seasoned with canned peeled tomatoes or tomato sauce. The cabbage must be coarsely shredded.

[Vegetable soup]
Minestrone, "big soup" in Italian, is the exception to all the other maneštras in that all kinds of vegetables are included. In fact, the more the better! Minestrone is a wonderful blend of colors and flavors, best without meat and bay leaves.