Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cabbage Soup

Cabbage soup. People love it. So I feel like i must clear the air a bit on what is actually in it and show respect to the main ingredient because i dont think it gets the acknowledgement it truly deserves. I hear people throwing around words like meat based, meaty, fatty, bacon, pork, cream based, creamy, etc.... when describing the soup. People.... Its just cabbage and water (and ofcourse a few other things) 
The key to why this soup is so good is because its not being tampered with.
I use very little stock in my restaurant. i do have one pork stock that has been getting used for about two months now that i keep feeding with porky love. eventually id like to take a portion of this stock and hand it down to one of my kids like a family heirloom.
So heres the big secret. 
Saute off some onions, leeks and whole cloves of garlic making sure to not brown any of it. when soft, slowly start adding batches of sliced up winter waxy cabbage. I make big batches, perhaps at home you could just throw in the whole bit at once. Were looking to cook on low to medium heat here. If your patient, you will be able to bring out the natural sweetness of the cabbage. So slow and low as they say. Add some salt and a touch of sugar at this point to help limpify(yes i just made up that word) the cabbage. Next comes a bottle of cheap white wine. In restaurants, we generally use the wine that comes in 1.5 liters at the liquor store that only get bought to drink by people like my girlfriend  who like the idea of having a bottle open that they can drink over a period of two weeks. Slowly simmer your soup making sure to stir until the wine is fully evaporated. Then add enough water to cover the cabbage. 
If we wanted it to taste like chicken or carrots we would add chicken or vegetable stock but we are trying to taste cabbage and just cabbage so leave your fancy stocks in the freezer for a later use. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for as many hours as you can. The more you simmer without browning it the better your soup will turn out. Ever wonder why your grandmothers food tasted so good but looked like shit? They cook the crap out of everything!! I remember eating broccoli that was so over cooked by my granny it was almost spreadable but despite her culinary atrocities, a little butter and it always tasted incredible. 
Then comes the pureeing. A lot of high end restaurants like to refine everything about there food to achieve the perfect look or consistency and although i've been trained to cook that way in the past all that has been forgotten at the black hoof. So we puree and season. I dont strain this soup which would be common in most restaurants. I want all that lumpy stuff to stay in the soup because thats where the flavour is. I dont care if it looks like crap because it tastes good!! Same goes for the marrow bone that gets served on the side. So many poor cooks around the world are given the task of scraping all the grisly meat off the side of the marrow bone so that when its presented to the customer it looks like its been thrown through an incinerator just to achieve that perfectly clean look. People, your eating the fatty, oily marrow thats hidden within the bone of an animals leg and i purposely dont clean it to remind you of that. 
So anyways, puree the soup with whatever blender you have. I myself use an old, on its last leg bar blender which makes an extremely loud noise because something important is loose inside and im just waiting for it to blow up on me one day but we are a tiny restaurant and most of our tools, pots and pans we use are taken from me and my partners home. When pureeing, throw a view knobs of cold butter into the blender to add that extra richness. Season and serve hot with a bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Thats it people, the secret is that there is no secret. 


Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Sounds awesome! Might have to add a ham hock though...

Unknown said...

well....anything is better with a ham hock..

Rupert St. said...

You are a great writer! Funny and entertaining but also very informative... I read your blog all the time and just wanted to leave you a comment to let you know how much I enjoy it. Thanks!