Happy New Year! Sal mubarak! Hope you rang in the new year surrounded by friends, family, good food, and love! Our new year started off with a lovely brunch of an irresistible spinach quiche with a wonderfully flakey homemade crust (recipe to come), tasty leek ragu, decadent fromage d'affinois, and blue bottle coffee. Carrying on my mother's tradition (with a new twist), we ate blacked eyed peas and collard greens Indian style to bring good luck and prosperity for the new year.
Then we celebrated our first family dinner of the new year with old favorites, parmesan roasted broccoli with Meyer lemon and penne with my famous heavenly tomato vodka sauce.
If January 1st is any indication of the days to come, then 2012 is looking to be a delicious year!
Continuing with the theme of family dinners, this healthy, comforting cabbage soup is full of nutrients and is a great way to incorporate winter vegetables into your meals. I think of winter as a time to cook rustic, peasant-style dishes that satisfy cold-weather cravings. It is a time when one pot meals shine and are best at creating a bowl of "comfort." There are days when nothing satisfies more than a bowl of steaming hot khichdi with yogurt or spicy chole and roti. Other days, especially relaxing Sundays, are perfect for simple hearty soups, and who doesn't love having leftovers for the upcoming weeknights.
To be honest, this cabbage soup is more than just boiled cabbage, it is a pot of winter vegetables delicately infused with thyme and parmesan. The recipe is very forgiving, you can mix the vegetables in whatever proportion you have on hand and add or remove ingredients freely. And it makes for great leftovers.
In a dutch oven, sweat onion and garlic in a little olive oil and butter. Add a bay leaf and fresh thyme. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Plop in a parmesan rind to infuse a hearty, savory flavor to the soup as it simmers. It will add a wonderful umami flavor to the soup. Stir in leeks, diced potato, diced turnip and sliced cabbage, seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. To make the soup more hearty, add cooked (or canned) cannellini beans. Simmer until cooked through. Taste and adjust salt until the flavors pop. Sometimes the parmesan rind will dissolve into the soup, if it did not dissolve, simple fish it out with a slotted spoon before serving. Serve with freshly grated parmesan and crusty, toasted whole grain bread.
If you wish, you can ladle the soup over the toasted bread to soak up the liquid and make a heartier meal.
Rustic Cabbage Soup with Cannellini Beans and Parmesan
1 small cabbage
4 small potatoes, peeled
2 small turnips, tops and bottoms removed, no need to peel if using baby turnips and peeled if using larger turnip
2 leeks, tops trimmed
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, or 2 cups of cooked cannellini beans
5 cups vegetable stock
Halve the leeks lengthwise, slice crosswise into 1/2" pieces. Transfer to a large bowl filled with cold water and let stand until dirt and sand falls to the bottom. Rinse thoroughly and drain in a colander. Trim and core the cabbage, slice in half and slice into 1/4" ribbons and half crosswise. Halve potatoes and cut into a 1/2" dice. Halve turnips and cut into a 1/2" dice.
In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, stir, and cover and let sweat for 5 minutes. Add bay leaf and fresh thyme, stir for 1 minute. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil, plop in the parmesan rind. Add potatoes, turnips, leeks, and cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add cooked cannellini beans to the soup and simmer for 10 minutes. Sometimes the rind will dissolve into the soup, if it did not dissolve, simple fish it out with a slotted spoon before serving. Serve hot with grated parmesan on top and alongside toasted crusty bread.