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I have yet another confession to make (they say it's good for the soul…):
I'm out of control when it comes to making soup.
I know, on an intellectual level, how to make an appropriate amount of soup.
I can tell some one else how to make an appropriate amount of soup.
I just can't do it.
And mon mari is an enabler!
Oh I can make small quantities of simple soups for first courses. It's the big, full meal soups that I have a problem with.
It started innocently enough, shortly after we were married.
I decided to make soup. I got out my 5 quart soup pot and started making whatever stock I needed for the base. Sometimes that meant cooking a chicken or some beef bones; sometimes not. It might be beans, lentils or split peas.
I chopped and added the 'base' vegetables: onions, celery, carrots.
Then, as usual, I started to think about what other vegetables should go into that particular soup: Potatoes? Cabbage? Rutabagas? Courgette? Tomatoes? And so on…
I chopped and added and stirred.
Then, as usual, I looked in the fridge and the pantry to see what else would be good.
I chopped and added and stirred.
When the pot was so full I could no longer stir, and there was still a pile of vegetables on the counter, not to mention the meat, and all the final herbs and seasonings, I realized I had a problem. I put some of the soup into a 4 quart pan and continued on, stirring and switching and blending.
For my birthday mon mari gave me an 8 quart soup pot.
The next time I made soup I was determined to prove him wrong.
I could control my urges.
I could make soup and bring it to completion in under 5 quarts.
I devised my plan; calculated my ingredients; weighed the options; and carefully made soup. Mon mari watched.
Halfway through I conceded defeat and dumped the contents of the 5 qt pot into the 8 qt pot.
Did you know that there isn't a whole lot of difference between 5 qts and 8 qts?
Yes, that's right….before I finished I had to put some of the soup into yet another pot.
For Christmas mon mari gave me a 12 qt pot. He said, with a smirk, that it was for stock…
We also bought a freezer.
Guess what I did last week? Yep, I made soup. I had to. I had cabbage!
Cabbage, that much-maligned but always useful crucifer, is my vegetable of choice for this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging, founded by a very busy Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and hosted this week by Vanessa of What Geek's Eat (who is now living in my home state).
The last time I bought a cabbage was in June (they last a long time…) and I'll just quote myself:
Everyone is always touting the the benefits of
broccoli and Brussels Sprouts, but what about cabbage? According to the Worlds
Healthiest Foods 'new research is revealing that phytonutrients in
crucifers, such as cabbage, work at a much deeper level. These compounds
actually signal our genes to increase production of enzymes involved in
detoxification, the cleansing process through which our bodies eliminate harmful
Cabbage is an integral ingredient in many soups, including this famous Italian one with as many recipes as cooks!
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Minestrone, Traditional There is a smaller, faster version using canned beans here.
2 cups dried kidney beans, (16oz, 500gr) I used 1 cup white and 1 cup red, but all of either is fine
8 cups water
1 medium onion, (6 oz, 180gr)
4 – 5 carrots (8 oz, 250gr)
2 – 3 stalks celery (6 oz, 180gr)
3 cloves garlic
3 cups cabbage (8 oz, 250gr)
4 oz (125gr) spinach I had some in the fridge
2 cans whole tomatoes (15 oz, 450gr)
6 oz (180gr) Prosciutto, thickly or thinly sliced or other dry-cured 'country' ham,
6 oz (180gr) regular, baked or deli ham also known as 'city' ham
4 cups chicken stock
5 – 6 cups water
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
spaghetti, 4 oz (100gr), a 'circle' about 1" (2.5 cm) in diameter
Soaking the beans, 6 hours before: Sort through beans, discarding any stones (never found any) or damaged beans. Put beans in soup pot or Dutch oven (5 qt capacity), add 8 cups of water, cover and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. This should take about 20 minutes. When just starting to simmer turn off heat and let sit for 3 hours.
Cooking the beans, 3 hours before: Drain and lightly rinse the beans. Do NOT use the cooking water. Put beans back in the pot, add chicken stock and water. Roughly chop the Prosciutto and add to the pot. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 90 minutes. Do not let it boil hard – this could cause the beans to break-up.
Making the soup, 90 minutes before: Uncover the soup and turn heat to medium. Mince garlic and add to pot. Chop carrots, celery and onions; add each to pot as you finish chopping. Chop cabbage and add to pot. Drain tomatoes, reserving juices and roughly chop; add to stock along with juices. Cut regular ham into bite-size pieces and add to pot. Add herbs to pot. Cover and let soup return to simmer.
Finishing the soup, 20 minutes before: Add the spinach to the pot – roughly chopping if large leaves. Break spaghetti into 3" (7.5cm) lengths and add to pot. Cover and let finish, stirring from time to time.
How about some brown rice and cabbage Egg Fu Yung?
Yes, you read that correctly. Told you it was versatile. Here's the recipe.
When one buys a cabbage one must be prepared!
Be sure to stop by What Geek's Eat on Monday when Vanessa will have a round-up of all of the week's herbie and veggie recipes!