Regular readers will know that Nick, with his years of experience working in restaurant kitchens, is the main cook around here. He follows the practice of ‘slow food’ as much as possible, which basically means preparing whole foods that are made from scratch. He takes great interest in food preparation and I am the very lucky beneficiary of his hobby.
However, I’ve always been a keen cook as well, and add to the daily smorgasbord every so often. When I first made this Cabbage and Vegetable Soup for him and he deemed it to be very good, saying that I could make it anytime I wanted and he’d be very happy to eat it, I knew I had a winner.
I should say at this point that I’ve never had my own ‘Baba’ (Polish Grandmother) but did get to enjoy the company of my high-school boyfriend’s Baba. While I couldn’t always understand what she was saying, I most certainly understood that I loved her old fashioned Polish recipes. And of everything she made, her Cabbage Soup was my favourite. It’s kind of like Cabbage Rolls without all the work involved and I’ve been making a version of it since I was a teen, and still love it.
Over the years I have modified Baba’s recipe, to exclude the ground beef she used to put in it, but if you want the beef, just saute some, drain the fat, and add to the pot with the stock. I also switch between using green and red cabbage, as they have different nutrients and it’s good to include both in your diet (but note that using red cabbage adds a distinctive red hue to your finished dish, as seen in my pictures today.) The third change I made was to switch the white rice in Baba’s Recipe for Brown rice, because, of course, it is a more healthy choice, (but feel free to use white rice if it’s what you enjoy.) Finally, I add some beans to the mix (Kidney, Romano or Chick Peas, based on what we have on hand) for some protein and extra fibre.
As far as the vegetables go, in addition to the cabbage, onion and tomatoes (either from a can or jarred at home) which you need, I add Mushrooms, Carrot, and Green Peas but feel free to add what you like.
And if you’re so inclined and include dairy in your diet, go ahead and add a small dallop of sour cream and/or a grating of Parmesan Cheese at serving time.
I think this is a recipe everyone in your family will like, and in case you’re wondering, it does not make your home smell like cooked cabbage.
Baba’s Cabbage Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- About 1/3 cup chopped onion
- Large clove garlic, minced.
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1/2 of a chopped hot pepper, or to taste – optional
- 3 large mushrooms or 6 smaller ones, chopped
- 2 slices cabbage, about 3/4 inch thick, chopped into small pieces
- 4 cups stock or water (if you use water you’ll probably want more salt)
- 1 can/jar tomatoes, including the juice, chopped. (To easily chop canned tomatoes place a wire sieve over your pot, pour the tomatoes into it letting the juice drain into the pot. Then drag a sharp knife this way and that, through the tomatoes in the colander. Dump the chopped pieces into your pot.)
- About 1/2 cup frozen peas
- About 1/2 cup (more or less) cooked or canned beans (Kidney, Romano or Chick Peas) – optional
- About 3/4 cup (more or less) cooked brown rice (or white rice if you prefer)
- 1/2 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano
- Also about 1 tablespoon each fresh basil and oregano, or one or the other, if you have some
- about 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice, about 2-3 teaspoons, or to your taste
Start by cooking your rice separately if you don’t already have some cooked rice handy.
Heat olive oil is soup pot. Add onion, carrot, garlic and hot pepper and sauté about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cabbage and cook another 3 minutes, stirring.
Add 4 cups stock and chopped tomatoes with their juice.
Bring to a simmer. Add dry herbs and salt. Simmer until vegetables are cooked and then stir in pre-cooked rice, kidney beans, frozen peas and fresh herbs if using, and heat through. Add a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Taste and adjust salt.
Serve with a dallop of sour cream and/or a grating of Parmesan Cheese if desired.
Leftovers keep well in the fridge for several days or can be frozen.
Old world cabbage soup
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Instructions part 2
Description part 2
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Instructions part 3
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I hope you try making this delicious and nutritious Cabbage Soup!