17 November 2008

Cabbage soup

It's been gray and dreary here for weeks now. At least that's my impression. It's not cold, but it is almost gloomy. We haven't had any measurable rain in a week or so, but the ground is saturated and I come home after my walks with the dog with very wet shoes and socks. And today they are predicting actual rain. That's not an improvement.

This is what I would call chou frisé — Savoy cabbage.
But on Wiki I see a chou frisé that looks more like kale.

The duck legs are brining (see yesterday's post) and I'm going to let them continue to marinate for another 24 hours. Meanwhile, I'm going to make cabbage soup. The Savoy cabbages at the supermarket are beautiful right now and very inexpensive (79 cents each). All the other vegetable are cheap too — carrots for 40 cents a kilo, leeks for 60 cents a kilo. So now is the time to enjoy them.

« Une sorte de soupe aux choux »

Here's a recipe for cabbage soup that I'm going to follow. It comes from this book, which I've had for years now and use just once in a while, mostly for ideas, not the actual recipes. The copyright date in the book is 1988, but I wonder if it is really that recent.

A lot of old-style French recipes are in here.

Here's a translation of the recipe. I'm adding some paragraph breaks to make it easier to read.
A Kind of Cabbage Soup

In a big cookpot containing two quarts of water, on medium heat, cook a 2 lb. piece of pork belly (smoked or salt-cured) that you have soaked for an hour in cold water. When the pot boils, skim the broth and let it boil for 30 minutes.

Add vegetables as you would for boiled beef: 2 leeks tied into a bundle; carrots split lengthwise; other root vegetables; a bouquet of thyme, parsley, and bay leaf; 2 onions; and 3 cloves of garlic. Do not salt the broth until the very end of the cooking because the salt from the cured meat will probably be sufficient. Cover the pot and continue the cooking for at least an hour.

At the end of that time, add to the pot, with the other vegetables, 2 little green cabbages (the best one are the little cabbages that we get in springtime), which you have split and then tied up so that they don’t come apart in the broth.

A half-hour after adding the cabbages, uncover the pot and add 6 medium potatoes and a sausage (or two) that you have poked in several places with a fork so that it won’t split open. Put the lid back on and finish the cooking for about 30 minutes.

Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning, and when it is just right, remove the herb bouquet and also the leeks, which you should untie and cut into serving pieces. Take the cabbages out of the pot using a slotted spoon and place them in a heated dish, arrange the potatoes around them, and put the pork and the sausage on top. Put the dish in a warm oven and pour the bouillon and the rest of the vegetables over thin slices of stale bread in a large bowl. Remove the onions and the garlic if you want. Serve very hot in heated soup bowls.

This soup, which makes a complete meal, is always welcome. When you have meat left over, serve it as an hors-d’oeuvre the next day.

In wintertime, make the soup using loose heads of green Savoy cabbage or kale.
I have a little hamhock, less than a pound, and two kinds of sausages, smoked and Toulouse(which are not smoked). It should all be good.

Cabbage leaves blanched and rolled up for freezing

Yesterday, I took the outer leaves off the cabbage I bought at the supermarket and blanched them for freezing. Soon, I will take them out and make stuffed cabbage leaves with them.

* * *

Our friends made it to Florence just fine. I talked to them last night. They said it was 70ºF down there in Tuscany. That didn't improve my mood.

A while ago, I opened the shutters on the bedroom window and looked out. It looked the same way it has looked for days and day now. I checked the temperature: 9.8ºC, or about 50ºF. I got dressed and put on my jacket for the 8:00 a.m. perambulation with Callie.

I stepped out the back door and realized there was a fine, penetrating rain falling. I hadn't even noticed it when I looked out the window — it was that fine (and it was still half dark out). So I stepped back inside, put on a raincoat, and went out anyway. It was a short stroll, and I came back with my socks and feet soaking wet. I guess I need some waterproof shoes.


  1. I'm interested and encouraged to see you are freezing the outer leaves. I was thinking of doing that myself, also for stuffed cabbage leaves, but was not totally convinced it would work.

    The soup you are making is what I think is called a garbure, yes? I have a couple of very traditional recipes for this type of thing, also a Spanish equivalent, from Asturia.

  2. A friend told me that before making stuffed cabbage rolls I should put the whole cabbage in the freezer for 15-30 minutes so the leaves would soften and be flexible enough to peel off one at a time and then roll up easily around the filling. We were both big Julia Child fans at the time, so this tip might have come from Julia originally.

  3. Just like M. Jourdain, I was making potage garbure without knowing what it was!
    [for M. Jourdain, see Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Molière.]

  4. Bonjour chm

    LOL! I didn't have to read the note to know as to whom you were referring to.


    I find that the price of veggies is cheaper in France than in Montreal. Woke up this morning to the sound of snow pellets against the windows but the sun is out now (10;30) and it is cold 31 Farenheit. Don't have to go outside to pick up dead leaves- my friend "the wind" did the job for me overnight :-)

  5. Garbure is a southwestern soup and includes white beans and either goose or duck confit, I think. Soupe aux choux is from the Auvergne region.

  6. Carolyn, I've seen Julia do that freezing-the-cabbage trick on her TV shows. I'm sure it works really well and I thought about it, but then I thought it might be just as easy to blanch the outer leaves of the cabbage in boiling water this time. (Both my freezers are really full!)

  7. Martine, Ken, Susan, thanks to all of you (from my students!) for all of the help with the language questions about painkillers and Sopalin :) I just happened to go back and saw the additional help from Martine and Susan... merci bien!


  8. I've always blanched the cabbage leaves, but I was wondering about the possibilities of brining them, like vine leaves too. Do you take advantage of handy spring new growth vine leaves Ken?


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