Have you ever dismissed a recipe because of its name?
Cabbage? Seriously? That grey, slimy vegetable that smells like feet? In a soup? You're kidding me, right? And there's curry in the recipe too? I did NOT like that chicken curry I had in Key West that one time. Yea, I think I'll pass! And so I turned the page...
Well as luck would have it, a big, beautiful, organic head of green cabbage made its way into my CSA within days of first discovering this recipe. I didn't know what to do with the mighty orb, so I gave this recipe a shot. And man, am I glad I did. Turns out cabbage is one tasty vegetable! It only takes on the 'feet' smell when it's overcooked. Who knew? And not only has this recipe changed my mind about cabbage, but about curry as well. I've discovered that there are all different kinds and variations of curry, and I've discovered a few that I'm crazy about. Like the curry powder I use here — it's not spicy at all, just jam-packed with flavor.
The soup comes together rather quickly, so it's a great soup to make on a weeknight when you are craving something warm and comforting. Perfect on a crisp day filled with grey skies and vibrant leaves, as the last blooms in the garden bid farewell to the long days of summer.
A few recipe notes:
Leeks tend to hold onto the soil they're grown in, so be sure to clean them well. You can cut them in half lengthwise, then run them under water as you separate the layers slightly, rinsing as much as you can while still keeping the leek intact (they're so much easier to dice that way).
The browned bits on the bottom of the pot are jam-packed with flavor. If you'd rather not deglaze the pan with wine, you could use a little water or vegetable stock instead.
I'm not really a white wine drinker myself, but occasionally I will buy a nice bottle of an organic sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio to add to the soup and then drink with the meal. But usually I just purchase the four pack of small bottles by Sutter Home.
You're aiming for approximately 1 pound of cabbage. And as always, use organic ingredients whenever possible to get the best flavor and highest nutritional content.
Curry Cabbage Soup
This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day. I've tweaked it just a little bit, and added the step of deglazing the collected brown bits with a little white wine to add some depth to the soup.
ALLERGY ALERT: There are studies that show the allergen levels of fining agents and gluten in wine are extremely low and do not activate the immune system or cause anaphylaxis (read more here). However, some highly sensitive individuals may have issues with the flour-paste used in the barrels; egg whites used to control bacteria; and fining agents made from egg, casein (dairy), shellfish, and/or fish (read here for more info). Please take the time to understand where your tolerance lies when consuming or cooking with wine.
- 1/2 head green cabbage
- 1 tablespoon pure olive oil
- Fine grain sea salt
- 1/2 lb (8oz) thin skinned potatoes (scrubbed clean, skin left on, cut into tiny cubes)
- 2 Tbsp Indian Curry Powder
- 1 cup diced leeks (white parts only)
- 3-4 cloves of garlic (pressed through a garlic press or diced very small)
1 to 2 tbsp white wine, either a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio (see ALLERGY ALERT above)
- 5 cups of water
- 1 (15 oz) can of Navy beans (or cannellini beans) drained and rinsed
- about 2 to 3 tsp salt
Warm the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add the potatoes and a big pinch of salt. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender and starting to brown, about 5-8 minutes. (Stir them a few times to get them nice and brown on all sides). Stir in the curry powder and leeks, and cook for another minute. Then add the garlic and stir a few times until you start to smell the garlic (about 30 seconds or so). Then move the mixture to one side of the pot and add 1/2 to 1 tbsp white wine over the browned bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pot. Work quickly to scrape the bits up and dissolve them into the wine. Then repeat on the other side of the pot. Then add the water and beans and bring to a boil.
Remove the outer, protective leaves from the cabbage and cut into quarters (through the center of the stem or 'core'). Remove the core, and slice the leaves into ribbons no wider than a pencil and no longer than an inch. Once the pot is boiling, add the cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes until the cabbage starts to soften up and collapses a bit.
Add the salt and adjust the seasoning. This is the tricky part. Too little salt and the soup tastes bland, but add too much and it's just too salty. You've gotta find the sweet spot. When my testing spoon has good flavor and I want to add just a little more salt to it — that's when I stop — I don't add the extra salt to the pot. The soup is more flavorful when you sit down for a bowlful as opposed to the testing spoon, and you can always add more salt to your bowl if you feel like you've missed the mark. Enjoy!