Monday, 15 September 2014

The Humble Cabbage

Here is another stinker! Cabbage! It's had a slip in popularity lately. Many people have decided to use Cavalo Nero and Kale and are slipping these into their blenders to make smoothies. Now that is something I can't quite fathom. And you must have noticed that in many films and TV programs when there is a block of flat/units there is always some reference to the stench of boiled cabbage. So cabbage has got a really bad name of late.

It is sad because cabbage is so underestimated! There are many ways to use cabbage and different varieties, each of them needing a different treatment ; Red Cabbage, Savoy Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, plain smooth leaf white cabbage and not forgetting Spring Greens. (Do we have spring greens in Australia?)

And there are much better ways to treat a cabbage other than boiling it to death? So if you have experienced eating what began as a handsome, crisp green cabbage dished up into a pale, limp, lifeless mess or finely chopped and smothered in insipid mayonnaise, then I suppose you can't be blamed for hating it.

Looking at any 'old masters' paintings of still life - you will often see a cabbage in full display alongside the rabbit, apples and pewter goblet of wine, because it was a prized possession, something to be adored. I have read in some medieval recipes that cabbage should be cooked for many hours in a big pot on the fire with leeks, onions and lots of herbs.  But I think cabbage needs to be cooked for a short time with a few other ingredients to retain its flavour and colour.

My favourite cabbage is blanched for a few minutes in boiling water, or steamed,  drained, put back in a saucepan with a knob of butter and some freshly grated nutmeg. OK, so this is a great veg to eat in winter and you can serve it with just about anything and to be honest, it is a cheap vegetable. One whole cabbage can feed 6 - 8 people or more.

So let me help you renew your love of cabbage! A simple recipe or two will surely bring back the love and we all need a little more of that in our lives. Here is a great soup, fast and easy to cook and being budget conscious, you know it will be a cheap eat - but not a cheap flavour.

Keeping in mind that I am still trying to give you food that is really value for money, food that tastes good, is good for you, then I am sure you will enjoy this Cabbage Soup. I am making cabbage rolls later in the week so I will post you that recipe in the next couple of days.

Cabbage Soup

Don't be fooled by these basic ingredients. This is a very tasty and filling soup.


1/2  Savoy cabbage, roughly chopped (the one with wrinkly leaves)
1 tbls olive oil
2 stalks celery chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 leek finely chopped
1/2 sweet potato chopped
1 400g tin crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
bunch of herbs; oregano, parsley, thyme or whatever you have chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
Grated parmesan (optional)
Few herbs to garnish

Heat olive oil in large pot and add onion. Cook until soft then add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add celery, carrots, leek, sweet potato and allow to sweat for 5 minutes or so. Keep stirring and when the carrot is almost done add the cabbage, herbs, stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for approximately 30 minutes until all the vegetables are soft but not falling apart. Check seasoning.
Serve piping hot in a bowl with chopped herbs for garnish and some grated parmesan if desired.

Serves 6 and cost calculated to $1.25 per person.

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