Friday, 13 January 2012

Purple Cabbage Soup

Cooked cabbage and a wet flannel have an unfortunate amount of textures in common. Particularly if, like me, you were put off cabbage at school where it was boiled to what can only be described as wallpaper paste. Things have moved on since then and I wanted to give the cabbage a chance. I've baked it, boiled it, steamed it and fried it. Apart from frying, none of these yielded any spectacular, life changing results. Nevertheless I wasn't about to give up on them; they are pretty much the only thing in season right now so I have no choice. If I have learnt anything about the cabbage it is that determination is key.
The last thing I wanted was to end up with a miserable, mauve bowl of failure. I wanted to keep the crunch and the texture of the cabbage as I think it is one (if the only one) of its virtues. You could of course use any cabbage for this recipe but the purple cabbage is rather lovely looking.
Start by making the soup base. An onion, a potato, a carrot and some celery fried for a few minutes in some butter and then simmered in stock until tender. You can add bay or rosemary at this stage if you like. Blend into a nice smooth consistency and then check the seasoning. While all this is going on, shred the cabbage. I remove the outer leaves because they can be a bit wilted at the edges and you don't want wilt when you're expecting crunch.
When the soup base is blended, put it back on a slow simmer and add the shredded cabbage. Put the lid on. Wouldn't it be lovely if the cabbage retained its colour and didn't leach it into the soup? I'm sure it would help if you blanched it first, put it into ice water and then added it. Leave for five to ten minutes until the cabbage is just cooked.
It was odd that the 'dull' colour in the cabbage moved into the soup rendering the cabbage a much more intense purple than before. Some parts of it I swear were almost blue. This was a soup-erb success. The soup had a velvety texture and earthy flavour and the cabbage gave it a glorious crunch. I put a little rocket on to give it a bit of freshness and zing.
It turns out that cabbage and even cabbage soup can be delicious. I think a bit of bacon would cheer it up no end. If however you remain unconvinced and end up with an unwanted cabbage, there's bound to be someone else (probably with four legs) who'll have it.

15 comments:

  1. Red Cabbage is lovely when braised slowly with apple and raisins. You need to add a little bit of vinegar to help retain its colour.
    Have a look at this article from 14 Oct 2011 on my blog if you like:-
    http://marksvegplot.blogspot.com/2011/10/red-cabbage.html

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  2. I've braised it like Mark has done, adding toasted hazelnuts but love the idea of something different for soup like this, Caroline. Great idea on adding some bacon, too - and wonderful colours with the rocket.

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  3. I've never tried cabbage soup and I'm guilty of ignoring it in the greengrocers so often because of memories of soggy school dinner cabbage. When I do get it, I tend to put it in a coleslaw with chilli, lime and oil. I need to vary how I prepare it more so it's good to see an attractive cabbage dish.

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  4. Lovely :)
    Thank you for visiting my Blog :)
    XX

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  5. interesting recipe, yes I think bacon would make a very good addition to this soup.

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  6. Though I have stir fried red cabbage but never into soups. I sure will enjoy this soup as its full of flavors and the color is uplifting.

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  7. Great idea for cabbage! I like the idea of the other vegies being creamy combined with the crunchy cabbage.

    Poor old cabbage has a bad rep but I love the purple one, it's such a cool colour!

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  8. My Polish friend makes cabbage soup and it is really delicious. Your version looks very interesting though! I am mad about soups and especially when its cold outside is the best ever thing to have!
    Thank you for visiting my blog and posting such a lovely comment.

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  9. Lovely post, back in the northern hemisphere now so winter veggies here I come...great recipe!

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  10. Never thought of making a purple cabbage soup.I eat the purple cabbage as salad, rub it with olive oil and salt, sprinkle nigella seeds on top but you are right, there is not a whole lot of flavors, you have to add lots. I still have half a purple sitting, my husband might appreciate the change :)

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  11. Cabbage is such a great vegetable, especially when taken a step further in preparation by roasting, sauteing or incorporating into soup. Great recipe, looks fantastic!

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  12. I love cabbage! Have you ever grilled it? I just saw a recipe for it grilled with asian short ribs. I think it would be great prepared that way!

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  13. Nice to meet you!!! I love red cabbage. Interesting recipe, i will give it a try.

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  14. Red cabbage is so under-rated. I have come to enjoy it braised with lentils or balsamic vinegar. Not yet had it as a soup, so this is one to try for sure.

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