Janny de Moor Janny de Moor

‘Humkes’ soup


Serves four:

  • 1500 ml water
  • 400 g brisket (rib of beef)
  • salt
  • 400 g green runner beans, cut into squares
  • 400 g peeled celeriac in cubes
  • 200 g waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 leeks in thick slices
  • a pot of white beans, drained weight approx. 400 g
  • chopped parsley


Serve with:

  • buttered slices of white bread
  • thin slices of Naegelholt or smoke-dried beef

‘Humkes’ is a Low Saxon word for the ‘squares’ in which the beans are cut. This soup is a regional dish in the Dutch provinces Guelderland and Overijssel. It is old-fashioned kettle fare – in the past potagie, a one-pan dish cooked over an open fire, cooked with what was available. This is also the case with our soup. There are many variations, with spare ribs, fresh sausage and smoked bacon. But this is a deluxe version with beef.

White beans and runner beans are ripe just at the time of the grain harvest and during that period the soup was served in a festive manner with the, at the time, also very luxurious white bread, spread with butter and wafer-thin slices of Naegelholt, a dried piece of beef from the so-called muis (silverside), seasoned with nutmeg or cloves.

This beef was dried in the wieme, a slatted cage that sat between the ceiling beams in the living room. It also held sausages and sides of bacon. Naegelholt is still sold by some butchers in the Achterhoek, Twente, Veluwe, Salland and Drenthe and has rightly been included in the Ark of the Taste of Slow Food. Go and taste it on the spot. But you can also opt for smoke-dried beef, as on the picture.

  • Place the brisket with salt to taste and 1 l water in a pressure cooker (3 l). Bring to the boil, skim with a slotted spoon, bring to the highest pressure and cook for 1 hour. Or simmer gently for three hours in a regular pan (3 l) with salt and one and a half liters of water.
  • Cut the vegetables into the desired shape, wash and leave to stay covered with water.
  • If you have used the pressure cooker, add half a liter of water after an hour and bring back to the boil without pressure.
  • Place the drained vegetables in the pan and cook gently for about 20 minutes, without pressure. The last 5 minutes add the white beans and their liquid.
  • Cut the meat into chunks, put it back and bring to the boil for a moment. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley before serving.


Menu suggestion:

  • Ripe pears as a dessert.

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