Pork Soup

I know it’s perverse and wrong of me but ever since I read this story:

PARIS – Pig’s tail, pig’s feet and other pig parts, all tossed into a pot with turnips, carrots and onions. Perfumed with smoked bacon and served steaming hot. Delicious!

Small groups linked to the extreme right are ladling pork soup to France’s homeless. Critics and some officials denounce the charity as discriminatory: because it contains pork, the soup is off-limits for Muslims.

Critics view the stew — dubbed “identity soup” by its cooks — as a cynical far-right ploy to penetrate the most vulnerable level of society while masking their intentions as humanitarian.

The associations offering the soup are satellites of Bloc Identitaire, a small, extreme-right movement that defends the European identity and, as its leader Fabrice Robert said, “the rights of the little whites.”

“It’s not that we don’t like Muslims. It’s a problem of critical mass,” Robert said in a telephone interview. “Just 1,000 Muslims in France poses no problem, but 6 million poses a big problem.”

The country’s Muslim population — the largest in western Europe — is estimated at 5 million, many of them French citizens.

The associations deny any ties to the far-right National Front party, which opposes Muslim immigration and built its reputation around the theme of “French first.”

Still, the National Front salutes the pork soup project.

“One has the right to be charitable toward whom one wants,” said Bruno Gollnisch, the party’s No. 2. Moves to forbid soup kitchens offering pork reveal authorities’ “alienation” from the French people, he said.

Pork soup is an age-old staple of the rural heartland from which all the French, at least in the national imagination, are said to spring.

The groups dishing up the soup say their victuals are no more than traditional French cuisine and deny they are serving up a message of racial hatred — a crime in France — or that they would refuse soup to a hungry Muslim or Jew.

In Strasbourg, pork soup was banned this month after officials deemed it could disrupt public order.

I’ve been simply obsessed with pork soup.

Here’s a recipe for you.

Potée bourguignonne (Pork Soup)

Serves 4

½ lb. salt pork, chopped fine
2 pig’s knuckles (pork hock, or what-have-you)
6 sausages (good frankfurters, knockwurst, or similar)
2 leeks (white only) thoroughly cleaned and chopped
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch rounds
1 medium cabbage, cleaned and chopped
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
Bouquet garni (thyme, bay, parsley bound together with string)
Salt and pepper

  1. In a large soup pot render the salt pork out a little over low to medium heat. Do not brown!
  2. Add the onion, leeks, carrot, sausages, and pig’s knuckle and saute for three minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients except for the turnips and potatoes, cover with 3 quarts of water, and bring to the simmer.
  4. Add salt and freshly ground pepper.
  5. Reduce the heat, cover partially, and allow to simmer for 1 hour 40 minutes.
  6. Add the potatoes and turnips and simmer for an additional half hour.
  7. Remove the bouquet garni and the pig’s knuckles (unless you’ve got a pig’s knuckles sort of group), adjust the seasoning, and serve.

You’ll probably want to delay peeling and cutting the potatoes until you’re ready to cook them to prevent them from discoloring.

I recommend some good hearty dark bread with this soup. Traditionally, this is eaten with mustard (for the sausages) and cornichons.

10 comments… add one
  • Wow, I can’t believe they actually banned pork soup! How glad am I that I don’t live in France!!

    That looks pretty good, but I don’t ever see salt pork in the grocery store, am I looking in the wrong places?

  • Practically every grocery store here in Chicago carries it, Beth. It’s in the meat section.

  • Sounds delicous. I hail from a family in which the two major food groups were sugar and fat, mainly pork fat.

    Every summer holiday, we had a Hungarian-American cookout, which consisted of roasting hunks of slab bacon (on long wooden sticks) over a fire. It is the most wonderful meal in the world.

  • One of the grocery stores I shop at (walking distance if I were that ambitious) carries Hungarian bacon and sausage. Good stuff.


    You may have heard about the Identity Soups. These traditional pork soups are distributed in several towns in France and Belgium by Identity associations that are wishing to help their compatriots living in poverty.

    These de Identity soups have been accused of racism because, since they contain pork, they would exclude Jews and Muslims. Still, pork meat is key to the traditional Gallic art of cooking (Read again the Asterix’ adventures !). It is also the cheapest meat and this is an important factor of choice for non-subsidised associations. And, last but not least, when Jewish or Muslim associations are helping their fellows from the same religion they choose to serve kosher or hallal soups and this does not shock us nor does it shock anybody else… Now, when Europeans are trying to help their fellow compatriots with pork, why should it then be considered as racism ?

    January 14th 2006, following a request from the Mayor of Strasbourg (North East of France), the Prefect (representing the French State) has prohibited the distribution of the Identity Soup with the support of the police and has arrested the head of the association organising the soup, named Solidarité Alsacienne (Alsatian Solidarity).


    All European nations are concerned by this measure : if we do not react today, tomorrow they might prohibit the croissant as the racist symbol of the European victory against the Turkish Muslim army that was at the door of Vienna in 1683. Or, like a director of a British school did, they may prohibit to tell stories such as “The three little pigs” under the excuse that it could heart the sensitivity of Muslim kids. It is now that we shall react !


    If you want to protect French and European culinary traditions and especially the freedom of Europeans to live on their own soil according to their ancestral customs, phone, send a email and ask your friends to do the same to :
    – the Prefect of Bas-Rhin, Jean-Paul FAUGERE : chantal.jaouen@bas-rhin.pref.gouv.fr – tel. (33) 03 88 21 67 68),
    – the Mayor of Strasbourg, Fabienne KELLER : fkeller@cus-strasbourg.net – (tel. (33)
    – the Mayor’s « Premier Adjoint » Robert GROSSMANN: rgrossmann@cus-strasbourg.net – (tel. (33),
    – the local newspaper: redaction@dna.fr (tel. (33),
    – please copy us using the following address (this will be used to count the emails sent) : contact@les-identitaires.com

    This call is sent in more than fifteen European countries as well as in North and South America, Canada and Quebec. Our objective: that the Prefect, the Mayor and the local newspaper receive each 100.000 emails asking for freedom for Identity Soups. No insult, no threat, no attachment, just these few words as a title :


    For any information on Identity Soups :

  • Jim Smart

    Thank you for the pork soup recipe! I am most glad that i’m not the only person who wanted to try this!

  • Richard Mavritte

    You can order salt pork at Phillips Brothers Country Hams.

    It is called “Pork Side Meat.”

    It is available in chunk or sliced.


  • Thanks for the reference, Richard. It’s exactly the kind of place that I like.

  • “I know it’s perverse and wrong of me …”

    Nothing perverse or wrong about it. In a few months, I think I’ll see if I can come up with a kosher version of that soup, but to tell you the truth, I’m sorely tempted to start feasting on the trayf myself, preferably with the soundtrack for “Fiddler on the Roof” playing at this all pork and shellfish dinner party I’d be holding during Yom Kippur, just to get a few of the louder and younger complainers I know to just shut way the H*** up about this subject. Maybe after letting my beard grow out, so they’d have the full visual effect of watching Tevye munching on bacon. G-d would understand, I’m sure, at least under circumstances as obnoxious as these, when one is presented with a protest that so cries out to be protested.

    There is not now, never has been and never will be any such thing as the legitimate right to invite oneself into somebody else’s home. To take an imagined right of free immigration and then supplement it with a demand that those whose country one is barging into comply with one’s dietary laws so that they will not be inconvenienced when they go out begging – AND the French goverment is open to using force to back up such a demand? Outrageous.

  • Joe

    To hell with muslims and their ancient and outdated demands.

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