I know we’ve had our share of problems in the past. You want to be a bigger part of my life, but you’re hard to stomach sometimes. I struggle with your waxy personality and bitter dispostion. If you want another shot with me, I suggest you mellow out and learn how to be softer and more palatable.
Thank you in advance.
And just like a prayer answered from above, came Marcella Hazan’s Smothered Cabbage and Rice Soup.
The cabbage in this soup is shredded down to coleslaw-like ribbons, braised until it can hardly even be labeled as cabbage, and then simmered with arborio rice and beef broth. Holy cow. It is good. It runs a line somewhere between soup and stew (and no, I won’t call it stoup. I am not Rachel Ray.) and is brutally unappealing to look at. Porridgey beige would be a good description of what is eventually ladled into your soup bowl. But if beige were a flavour, this certainly would not be it. Maybe brown, because brown tastes good. But nothing as bland as beige (which is to be said in a monotone with your bottom lip left loose and your eyes rolling).
I should also say that this soup is made blissfully rich with a last minute addition of a few pats of butter and Parmesan cheese. Oooohhh baby. Magic words, right there, eh? Eh?
I know cabbage is not everybody’s favourite. My own best friend likely wouldn’t eat this even if I swore on my life that she would love it. (note: she said she would try it, but preferably while she was sick and everything tasted like cardboard anyways.) I also know cooking a whole head of it is probably not your idea of a first step in giving cabbage a chance. But hear this. Are you listening? It doesn’t taste like raw cabbage. It takes on a whole different persona when you slooooow things doooooown and give it some time to luxuriate and get gussied up. Have patience, will you?
Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup
via The Wednesday Chefvia Marcella Hazan
2 pounds Savoy cabbage (red or green will do in a pinch)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
Detach and discard the first few outer leaves of the cabbage. Shred the remaining head of cabbage very fine, either with your food processor’s shredding attachment or by hand. Be sure to remove the cabbage’s inner core.
(I hate shredding cabbage so I just sliced it into thin ribbons.)
Put the onion and olive oil and a large saute pan and turn the heat to medium. Cook the onion, stirring, until it’s softened and taken on some color. Then add the garlic. When the garlic has turned a pale gold, add the shredded cabbage. Turn the cabbage over 2 or 3 times to coat it well, and cook it until it has wilted.
Add salt, pepper, and the vinegar to the pan. Turn the cabbage over once, completely, then lower the heat to minimum and cover the pan tightly. Cook for at least 1 1/2 hours, or until it is very tender, stirring from time to time. Add 2 tablespoons of water, if needed, during the cooking if the cabbage becomes too dry. When done, taste and add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Allow it to settle a few minutes off heat before serving.
3 cups good quality stock (chicken, beef or veggie) or water
2/3 cup Arborio rice
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
Freshly ground black pepper
Put the cabbage and broth into a soup pot, and turn on the heat to medium.
When the broth comes to a boil, add the rice. Cook, uncovered, adjusting the heat so that the soup bubbles at a slow but steady boil, stirring from time to time until the rice is done. It must be tender, but firm to the bite, and should take around 20 minutes. If while the rice is cooking, you find the soup becoming too thick dilute it with a ladleful of homemade broth or water. The soup should be on the dense-ish side when finished.
When the rice is done, before turning off the heat, stir in the butter and the grated cheese. Taste and correct for salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into individual plates and allow it to settle a few minutes before serving.
Note: I made this yesterday and was anxious to see how the leftovers would be. There is little to no liquid left today, so the ‘soup’ is more like a risotto. Drizzled with some good olive oil, some shaved parm and pepper, it’s almost better than day 1. Yum!