Time for weekend herb blogging! For the recap at Kalyn's Kitchen, please click here.
This week I’m focused on cabbage with two recipes:
1) seupa vapellenentse
2) garlic cabbage
The cabbage is a herbaceous flowering plant whose leaves form a tasty treat for humans and caterpillars alike. According to Wikipedia, the cabbage descends from a wild mustard plant from the Mediterranean around 100AD.
Cabbage can be eaten raw in coleslaw (yuck!), cooked into stews like borscht or pickled into delicious treats like sauerkraut or Korean kim chi.
Cabbage has been much maligned in modern time, perhaps because of the smell it produces when cooking (or the flatulence it often causes after ingestion), but it’s a healthy, nutritious herb that provides good dietary fibre.
Perhaps its high sugar and dietary fibre content led to creation of the strange cabbage soup diet, which encourages dieters to eat nothing but low-cal cabbage soup. Well, my soup certainly doesn’t fit into this category!!!
Seupa Vapellenentse is soooooooo bad for you because it’s loaded with cheese and butter (and bread), but it's worth the calories.
It’s such a shame that this delicious Italian soup looks so damn terrible. It didn’t matter which way I took the photo, nor how I tilted the light, it just looked like a pile of muck. But trust me, the soup is divine.
A few weeks ago I watched Antonio Carluccio, a London-based Italian-born TV chef, traipse through the Italian Alps in Valle d’Aosta, a tiny northern Italian province on the border with Switzerland and France. He made this traditional cabbage soup and I couldn’t wait to try it out myself.
I scanned a zillion internet recipes to come up with my own version, which turned out really well. But beware, it’s very rich so you don’t need, or want, much.
My own recipe, based on watching Antonio Carluccio and by scanning over other internet versions. Serves 4.
Small head of Savoy cabbage
300g fontina cheese
1 litre hot vegetable broth
400g stale bread, sliced thinly
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
Butter for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Clean the cabbage, stripping away the toughest outer leaves and the hard core, and blanch the remaining leaves in salted water.
2. Drain them, cut them into thin strips, and transfer them to a pot with some melted butter. Sauté until they are nicely coloured.
3. Line the bottom of a deep pot with thin slices of the bread, then some of the cabbage mixture, salt and pepper and then a layer of thinly sliced fontina.
4. Continue to make the layers until all the ingredients are used up, with the last layer being fontina.
5. Add broth to just barely cover, pour over melted butter then cover with lid and leave for 20 minutes or until bread has softened and cheese has melted.
6. Stir the mixture very gently to ensure ingredients are evenly distributed.
For a meaty version, instead of using butter to sauté the cabbage, try 55g of cured lard or minced pancetta. Use beef stock instead of vegetable.
After cooking the soup, I still have some cabbage leftover so later in the week I plan to make a recipe that Jonas and I used to eat a lot but haven’t cooked in a long time: garlic cabbage. We’ll have it as a side to schnitzel (veal for me and soy for him). It’s based on an Australian Woman’s Weekly recipe (what would we Aussies do without them!) and is very simple and fast.
Australian Woman’s Weekly recipe, Serves 4 as a side dish.
½ medium cabbage (750g), chopped coarsely
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chives, freshly chopped
1. Heat butter in a saucepan.
2. Cook cabbage, garlic and wine, stirring, until cabbage is just tender.
3. Stir in chives just before serving.
For a spicier theme, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds.
Don't forget to check out other Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen.