On Tuesday, Halloween Day, I spent the morning cleaning out the fridge, making space for the arrival of this week’s CSA.
I pulled out a bag of sliced Napa cabbage, several weeks old, beginning to gray. I found a few leeks with frayed greens and a handful of potatoes needing a bath. The stars were aligning for Paul Steindler’s cabbage soup, but this time I would make it vegetarian, omitting the bacon, substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock.
I know the thought of making stock of any kind can feel like too much trouble, but the reality is encouraging: throw some things in a pot, cover with water, simmer. Vegetable stock, which my friend Darcy introduced me to several years ago, simmers for only 45 minutes, and on Tuesday it seemed I blinked, and the stock was done: just when I needed to add it to the soup, the timer dinged.
During those 45 minutes of simmering, I chopped the onions and began sweating them in olive oil, submerged the cabbage in boiling water then drained it, peeled and diced the carrots and potatoes, and gathered the remaining ingredients: vinegar, crushed caraway seeds, heavy cream, and lots of fresh dill. This soup requires a fair amount of chopping but the upshot — cabbage soup for days! — makes the effort worth it.
This is one of my favorite recipes to make this time of year, foremost because I always seem to be swimming in cabbage — despite having emptied the bag of sliced cabbage, I still have three heads (2 green, 1 red) hanging out in the fridge, where they’ll likely remain for weeks.
But I also, of course, love this soup for its texture and flavor: slightly creamy, loaded with vegetables, infused subtly with caraway, whose citrusy notes along with the vinegar pair so well with the cabbage and other vegetables, offering a much needed acidic counterpoint. Dill, too, which I just learned is in the same family as caraway, brightens the stewy flavors just before serving.
Friends, confession: I was so distracted by my fridge clean-out successes that I totally forgot to pick up the farmshare. Gah! Somehow the morning disappeared into the early afternoon and as the house filled with the pitter patter of excited soon-to-be trick-or-treaters, the pot of soup moved from the stovetop to the fridge, the bowl of Snickers, M&M’s, and Twix from the cupboard to the counter, and all at once all other concerns disappeared — not the worst thing in the world.
Have a wonderful weekend, Everyone.
ALL the Cabbage Recipes → Right Here
Soup and stock time:
Vegetable stock: leeks, onion, carrots, celery, peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic, thyme parsley, salt — use the recipe as a guide.
Soup vegetables: carrots, onions, potatoes:
Sliced cabbage covered in boiling water:
Flour added (see recipe notes for an alternative to the flour):
Straining the vegetable stock:
Adding the stock to the soup:
Adding the vegetables:
Adding the caraway:
Adding the dill and cream:
Soup + bread … is there anything better?
Vegetarian Cabbage Soup
Slightly adapted from a Craig Claiborne & Pierre Franey recipe; If you wish to make a version closer to the original, which included bacon and chicken stock, see this recipe: Paul Steindler's Cabbage Soup
I was recently listening to a Milk Street podcast and heard Sara Moulten mention that she never thickens soups with flour, preferring instead to purée a portion of the soup. If you have an immersion blender, this will be easy. Otherwise, you could ladle a few cups of soup into a food processor or blender. I love this idea, especially if gluten intolerance is a concern. Will try it next time, though I have no problem using flour, and don't find it adds an off taste or texture to the finished soup.
Re stock: When I made this most recently, I found the stock yielded 2 quarts, all of which I used here, along with 2 more cups of water. So, if you don't have a full 10 cups of vegetables stock, using a mix of stock and water will work just fine.
I'm not sure why the recipe calls for submerging cabbage in boiling water for one minute, but I suspect this step helps rid the cabbage of some of its water content, which can be stinky, and which might therefore cloud the flavor of the broth.
Note: This is a double recipe, and it yields a lot, but it’s so nice to have on hand, especially, if you have company arriving. With a little hunk of fresh bread, it makes the most wonderful lunch, and with a salad, a perfect dinner.
- 12 cups shredded cabbage*
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 to 3 cups finely diced onions
- 1/2 cup flour, see notes above
- 10 cups homemade vegetable stock or water, see notes
- 2 cups finely diced carrots
- 2 to 3 cups finely diced potatoes
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons whole caraway seeds, crushed or pulverized
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill (or more or less to taste)
*If you use one relatively large head, you may get about 14 cups — use it all.
- Place cabbage in a large bowl. Bring enough water to a boil — I fill a tea kettle, but you could always fill a large sauce pan — to submerge the cabbage in the bowl. Pour the water over the cabbage; let sit one minute or longer; drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the onions, immediately turn the heat down to medium or low, and cook, stirring, until they are soft, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir. (Note: If you do not wish to add the flour, see the notes above for an alternative method for thickening the soup.) Add the broth or water, stirring rapidly with a wire whisk. When the mixture simmers, add the cabbage, carrots, potatoes, salt, pepper, caraway seeds, vinegar and sugar.
- Simmer, stirring every so often, for about about 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and simmer five minutes. Add the chopped dill to the pot. Taste and adjust as needed with more salt and pepper to taste. I typically add 1 to 2 teaspoons more salt, but I am a salt lover, so adjust as needed. Serve, adding more chopped dill to each bowl if desired.