Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cabbage Soup

Here are two Cabbage Soup recipes to get a head start on winter. I like both and each has a very different flavor.

When I was commuting between Tulsa and Chicago every week, I stayed with my friend Helen Miller and she made the most remarkable cabbage soup. This recipe is an inspirational start and I’ll draw on it to try and achieve the same great taste that she use to make.

After all these years, I still dream about that soup.

Bon Appetit!

Bacon and Cabbage Soup

• 1 (1/3-pound) piece Irish bacon (available at specialty foods shops) or Canadian bacon

• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

• 1 medium onion, finely chopped

• 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

• 5 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

• 4 Turkish bay leaves

• 2 teaspoons kosher salt

• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• 1/2 small head Savoy cabbage, cored, thinly sliced, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

In small saucepan, combine bacon and cold water to cover. Cover, bring to boil over moderate heat, and skim foam from surface. Reduce heat and simmer 7 minutes. Drain and cool, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Set aside.

In 6-quart heavy stock pot over moderate heat, melt butter. Add onion and sauté, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add potatoes and sauté 2 minutes. Add stock, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat to moderately low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add cabbage and simmer 5 additional minutes. Discard bay leaves. Working in 3 batches, in blender purée soup until smooth (using caution when blending hot liquids). Return to pot, stir in bacon, and rewarm if necessary. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Bacon, Bean and Cabbage Soup

Known as Oulillade, this recipe is based on a traditional French dish of meat and beans and is packed full of down-to-earth flavors.

Serves 6-8

Takes about 2 hours to make, plus overnight soaking

• 12 ounces dried beans

• 1 hock unsmoked bacon

• 2 tbsp olive oil

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 1 large carrot, chopped

• 5 ounce turnip, peeled, quartered and chopped

• 12 ounces potatoes, peeled, halved and chopped

• 1/2 savoy cabbage

• 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

• 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Soak the beans in cold water overnight.

2. The next day, put the bacon hock into a deep pan with 2 ½ cups of water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then cover and leave to simmer gently for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning it over now and then as the liquid starts to reduce, until the meat is tender and falling away from the bone. Leave the hock in the cooking liquor until cool enough to handle.

3. Meanwhile, drain the beans and put into a second pan with 1 cup of cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming off any scum as it rises to the surface, then lower the heat, cover and leave to simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender. Drain and set aside.

4. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes. Add the carrot and cook for 5 minutes until it’s soft. Strain 1 quart of the bacon’s cooking liquor into the pan, add the turnip and potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, discard the skin from the hock and tear the meat into small, bite-sized pieces.

6. Quarter the cabbage, remove the core and thinly slice. Add the bacon pieces, cabbage and beans to the soup and simmer for 5-7 minutes until tender.

7. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the garlic, parsley and plenty of black pepper. Ladle into large warmed soup plates and serve with lots of fresh crusty bread.