I love hearty soups that contain all the elements of a wholesome meal. Just as for example the Swabian beef soup (‘Gaisburger Marsch’), this pork rib soup has it all: Potatoes, vegetables, and meat. All cooked to perfection in a savory broth.
Spare ribs used to be a very cheap cut of meat in Germany. They were not used as barbecue meat in traditional cuisine. It was typical soup meat that was boiled in water until tender. However, with the growing popularity of American-style barbecue ribs, it’s now one of the higher-priced cuts of pork.
Spare ribs are nevertheless delicious and I still think they are the perfect soup meat. They contain large amounts of fat and gelatin that help to keep them moist and tender. Beef often dries out a little when cooked for soup and doesn’t have the great taste of pork meat.
Table of Contents
You decide which vegetables go into your pork rib soup
You can alter the veggies in this soup depending on your taste and the season. I like potatoes, green beans, and carrots. They should always be added to the soup just shortly before serving so that they are cooked through but not mushy. There’s nothing worse than tasteless carrot mush.
You don’t need to have any premade broth on hand to whip up this soup. Cooking the pork ribs in water will yield a light and savory pork broth. It’s best to use a pressure cooker for this dish to cut down on the cooking time. With a pressure cooker, the ribs are tender in just 15 minutes.
If you can’t get your hand on fresh savory for the broth, you can substitute it with dried savory or fresh thyme sprigs. It’s a very fragrant herb that is severely underused in Western cuisine. It improves the digestibility of the meal, especially of the green beans. Savory is used by a lot of German grandmas but has lost a lot of its popularity in recent years because it tastes slightly bitter. Other dishes that I use savory for are arctic char with horseradish sauce and braised green beans.
1 leek, white and light green part only, sliced into 4-inch pieces
1 medium-sized white onion, peeled and halved
3 savory sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
3 allspice berries
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups (1.9 liters) water
For the vegetables:
12 ounces (350 g) new potatoes
9 ounces (250 g) green beans, trimmed, about 2-3 cups
6 medium-sized carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces, about 2 cups
For seasoning the soup:
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
salt, to taste
Prepare the broth:
In a large pot, heat plenty of water until it is heavily boiling. Blanch the spareribs in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes to remove excess scum. Drain and set them aside.
Put all the broth ingredients inside a large pot or pressure cooker. If the water doesn’t cover all the ribs completely, add some more so that they are fully submerged. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat to the lowest setting and let the broth simmer, covered, over the lowest possible heat for 45 minutes until the ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender. Skim off any scum that might rise to the top and add some more water if necessary to keep the ribs fully submerged. If using a pressure cooker, cook the ribs on the high-pressure setting for 15 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally.
Strain your finished broth through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Set the ribs aside and discard the rest of the broth ingredients.
Cook your vegetables:
It’s best to cook your vegetables while your broth is simmering.
Place the potatoes skin-on inside a medium-sized cooking pot and cover them fully with cold water. Add plenty of salt to the cooking water and bring it to a boil. Boil your potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender. Pierce them with a sharp paring knife to test for doneness. If they easily slide off the knife and you can’t feel any resistance they are done. Set the potatoes aside and let them cool slightly. Peel them using a sharp paring knife while still warm and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.
Bring plenty of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Season liberally with salt and blanch the green beans for about 4-5 minutes or to your preference. Immediately after blanching, shock them in ice water. Blanch your carrots in the same pot for about 3-4 minutes or to your preference. Take them out and shock them in ice water as well. Drain your vegetables and set them aside.
Assemble the soup:
Heat up your strained broth so that it is lightly simmering and add in the ribs, potatoes, carrots, and beans. Add the white wine vinegar and season the soup to taste with salt. Be generous with the salt as the potatoes will soak up some of it. You’ve added the right amount of salt once the broth changes from tasting bitter and grassy to sweet and savory.