Italian Cabbage soup (Zuppa di Cavoli)
I received a beautiful head of Storage cabbage in my Native Son Farm share last week. The only time I ever think of cabbage is on St.Patrick's Day. My mother would always make it her once a year event to make Corn Beef and Cabbage. I can still remember that distinctive smell all over the house. No scented candles then, just lots of windows opened around the house and it was still Winter.
With Cabbage in abundance this time of year, I thought who better to reference than my favorite Cooking teacher, Marcella Hazan. Her Venetian style cabbage Soup is excellent and worth a try. It will have you running to the market to make more. This variation is very similar. It's so good for you too. I am going to make it my New Year's resolution to eat more cabbage. I love the idea of cooking the cabbage ahead, sauteing it , reserving the liquid and cooking your rice in your liquid. I made it all on the same day. If you do this you will need about 3 hours of time from start to finish. You can cook your cabbage a day or two ahead and even saute several days ahead. On the day you want to serve, just heat and cook your rice right in your soup.
Here is my version: Serves 6-8 people.
Ingredients: One head of cabbage (Savoy, storage), cleaned, cut into large pieces
Large pot, 8 quarts of water. 2 tablespoons of salt for the water.
12 oz of rice (Aborio or long grain)
1/2 cup of white wine or 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (I used white wine, as we always have it on hand).
3 cups of broth (meat, chicken or vegetable)
2 teaspoons garlic
2 tablespoons white onion (I like to use them as they turn slightly sweet when cooked).
1. Cook your cabbage in plenty of boiling water. Add your white wine or your vinegar to your boiling water and stir. Continue to cook your cabbage until soft. This should take about 2 hours or so. Your liquid will be reduced to less than half. Drain/ reserving about 3 cups of liquid.
2. In a saute pan heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute your diced onion and garlic for about a minute until fragrant. Add your cabbage and stir in med/low heat until your cabbage sticks just a little to the pan. This should take no more than 5 minutes. Add a teaspoon of salt and set aside to cool.
(You can make it up to this point several days ahead. Store in the refrigerator/ separately from the reserved liquid).
3. Heat up your broth and your reserved liquid in a pot large enough to hold your soup.
When it comes to a boil, add your rice. After about 5-7 minutes, Add your cabbage directly into the soup. Continue to cook your rice until al dente on a slow simmer. Your liquid will thicken some from the starch being released from the rice. Serve in large bowls topped with Parmigiano Cheese if you like. I had so much, I served it twice. Everyone loved it. Sprinkle some cooked, sliced carrots for added flavor and color. The second time I served it with some fresh Arugula. This addition, although minimal, added a nice a little bite to the soup.