Sunday, January 2, 2011
I crave cabbage. Yesterday, I braised red cabbage for lunch. Today I wanted cabbage soup.
I recently purchased Love Soup by Anna Thomas. I checked this book out of the library a few weeks ago and have been reading through the recipes as though they were chapters in a book. Anna Thomas wrote The Vegetarian Epicure back in the day. If you're not familiar, it was before its time and is a classic. She wrote it when she was in college, which is only more impressive. Love Soup was published much later, after her children were grown. It's a beautiful book, and I ordered my own copy from Amazon before returning the copy I'd borrowed.
Much of her cooking is Eastern European inspired from her mother, and I adore Eastern European food. Growing up, my family ate a lot of cabbage dishes, goulash, pierogies, kielbasa... as did many of us reared in PA... so, her food speaks to me on a personal level as well.
I opened her book first thing this morning when cabbage soup was calling my name... I remembered reading a recipe for caramelized cabbage soup and I was pretty sure that was what I would have on the stove for dinner that night. A quick read through the recipe sealed the deal.
I quartered and cored a small green cabbage before slicing it thinly. The cabbage was probably about 2lbs. The recipe called for a pound, but I figured I'd cook it all. I'd give the soup all it could take and pack the rest up for a quick side dish later in the week. I threw it all in a large bowl and coated it lightly with EVOO. I spread it out on a cookie sheet, sprinkled it with some gray French sea salt and stuck it in a 375 degree oven. Every 10 minutes or so, I'd stir it around and in about 45 minutes or so, it was browned and about half its size. While it roasted, I had chopped an onion and a leak. I put about a a teaspoon of butter and a tablespoon of EVOO into my saute pan along with the two members of the Allium family and a sprinkle of the sea salt. The heat was medium low, and I knew it would be around 40 minutes of patience until they were golden brown and sweet.
I chopped a Yukon potato, 2 carrots, and the innards of a stalk of celery. I love a new stalk of celery when I am making soup. The inside leaves are so tender and sweet, I always go for those first. Scott washed up the entire stalk for me, and I cut them into smaller sticks. We ended up putting some sunflower seed butter on a couple of the cut up sticks as an appetizer. I packed the rest for quick snacks throughout the week. I put 5 or so cups of veggie stock into my Le Creuset along with the chopped carrot, celery, and potato and brought it to a boil for about 20 minutes before adding in the caramelized onions and leeks and the roasted cabbage. I used almost all of the cabbage, but what is left will be perfect for my lunch later in the week. Anna Thomas suggests seasoning this soup with fresh dill and finishing the soup with milk. I didn't want to do that, even though I am positive it would be delicious. Instead, I seasoned with a little kosher salt and Alleppo pepper, which is from Turkey. You can get it at Penzey's. It's smoky, but with some heat, and I have found I adore it with cabbage, eggs, rice... I let it all cook down for another 2o minutes and the result was lovely.
Scott compared it to the broth from a french onion soup. The caramelized onions and leeks had seemed to let go of the touch of butter I used on them, resulting in a rich and thick broth. We sopped it up with chunks of whole grain bread and each went back for a small second helping. It was perfect for this rainy day and cured my cabbage craving... at least until tomorrow.