Ham and Savoy Cabbage Soup; more rants on being cold, Weekly Menu

Did I mention that it's cold here?

Restoring an old French farmhouse, and living in it whilst we do it, has given me a new appreciation for how very hard life used to be, for everyone, but in particular those living off the land.

Keeping warm is a job.

Even if one was Lord of the Manor and had peasants to chop the wood and tend the fires, getting the hot air to come down from those 14 foot ceilings was no easy task.

And heaven forbid that you let the fire go out and those thick stone walls cool down!

But if one has to do the chopping and fetching and tending, staying warm during a wee cold snap can occupy rather a lot of time.

In true democratic division of labor, mon mari does the chopping and fetching.

I do the tending.

If you think I have the easier of the tasks, sitting in front of a hot fire and tossing on the occasional log, you would be wrong.

I'm not implying that it's more difficult, just that it has it's own drawbacks….

Like leaving a toasty bed to navigate the freezing bedroom to the kitchen only to find out one may have slept a bit too long, and the fire is almost out.

Not out; almost out.  Like in 'The Princess Bride': only mostly dead.

Then one must put a log on, adjust the vents to let in lots of air, make sure the log has properly 'caught', adjust the vents again to reduce the air so it doesn't burn up to fast, add another log and go back to a cold bed. 

Oh wait, as long as I'm up, might as well let the dog out (or she wets the bed). So I have to wake her up (old and tired) and convince her to go out an pee.  Fortunately, she's quick about it, not liking the cold any more than I do.

Back to the cold bed, for 2 hours.  Just as it's once again nice and toasty the inner alarm goes off and we repeat the above sequence.

Mon mari has gotten so used to this routine he doesn't even wake up any longer….

Bless his heart….. Smart ass!  I can fix that!

In addition to the tending the fire I drink lots of green tea.

And make soup.

Many vegetable soups use regular, white cabbage. I decided to make one featuring Savoy or green cabbage. Using a slice of ham from the deli this goes together quickly for a warming, winter meal. Stirring in a bit of cornstarch at the end gives the broth a more luscious 'mouth feel'. This is enough for 4 servings.

Ham and Savoy Cabbage Soup 

Ham and Savoy Cabbage Soup

3 medium potatoes
4 medium carrots
3 ribs celery
1 large onion 
2/3 Savoy cabbage, 4 - 5 cups
10oz (300gr) baked or pink ham
1 tbs olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
6 – 8 cups chicken stock or water plus ham base
2 tbs cornstarch (maizena) dissolve in 1/4 cup water

Roughly chop onion. Peel carrots; then slice by cutting in half the long way (in 2 or mores sections) then into half or quarter circles. Peel and slice potatoes to a similar size. Slice celery, cutting the wide end in half lengthwise. Cut ham into small pieces. Remove dark green outer leaves from cabbage. Cut off a thick slice, avoiding the core. Lay flat, cut into 3 or 4 wedges, then thickly slice the wedges. 
Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot. Add onion and sauté until it starts to get tender, about 5 minutes. Add celery and sauté 5 minutes longer. Add ham and sauté briefly. Add carrots, potatoes, cabbage, herbs and stock. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, 30 – 40 minutes.
To finish: Remove bay leaves. Dissolve cornstarch in water. Uncover soup and increase heat. When simmering hard, add cornstarch, stirring until it clears. Serve.

In addition to this, for the weekly menu for January 8 we have Salmon in Phyllo, Corsican Beef and Pasta, Stir-Fried Turkey with Cabbage and Cashews, Chicken with Spanish Rice….

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8 thoughts on “Ham and Savoy Cabbage Soup; more rants on being cold, Weekly Menu”

  1. Katie I really do not envy you for those cores. I guess I would let the fire go out way to often if I had to do that.
    Remembers me of my childhood when we still had a hand fired oven and it would be freaking cold when we got up in winter mornings. Fortunately Grandma was up earlier most of the time tho and fired the oven so it was beginning to get warm again after a short while…
    Love that soup!!

  2. Love the “Princess Bride” – I’ll need to watch it again. Anyway, I’m also the one who gets up and closes our door in the morning when the heat kicks on, so I have some sympathy for you, although life is not as cold in CA as it is in FR. And My Beloved is lovely and warm when I get back into bed – and he lets me put my cold feet on him. He is the most generous of men.

  3. Astrid, I put too big of a log on last night and killed the fire…. very cold this morning.
    Year on the Grill, and a hot brick at my feet…
    Zoomie, he is indeed a generous man – I am not so lucky…. I am told to keep my bloody cold feet to myself! I have learned that if I just put them close, though, it’s okay and they still get warm ;-))

  4. Hi Katie! Your place sounds amazing! I love wood heat…it really is the best! Although, I know about letting the fire die…have to start all over again…in the cold! Your soup looks wonderful and sooo healthy, really enjoy your posts! Ina from the Westcoast

  5. We lived for years with woodstove heat and often started our early mornings just as you do. Then we installed a baseboard hydronic heating system that runs on propane heated by a super-efficient water heater. Changed our lives. No ash dust to deal with, no getting out of a warm bed to stoke the fire, no wood to chop – it’s very civilized. 🙂

  6. Ina, except for the dust part, it really is quite nice… Oh, and the getting up in the middle of the night part…. Thanks for the kind words ;-))
    Christine, had I know we were going to have to put new floors in I would have, um, encouraged in-floor heating. As usual, too late….Romance v dust…. hard choice

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