If you happen to have a copy of The Homemade Kitchen, you’ll see a photo of me in my spring garden. It looks just as it should: dark, compost-rich beds holding hundreds of little seedlings. It looks like I’ve planned well and planted a garden that will feed my family through the season.
At least, that’s how it looks. This is what was really going on in that picture: Under deadline, crazed, and three days away from the first day of photos, I asked my friend Elizabeth over at Indian Line Farm for help. I knew we were taking a garden shot, and at that point, all that was growing in my neglected garden was thistle and last year’s rotten kale. She pulled out a few flats of seedlings that had been forgotten and were a bit droopy. She told me they’d perk up enough in the ground to at least look good in my photo. “I’m pretty sure these are all cabbage,” she told me. I was so grateful I didn’t care what they were. I figured we’d get the shot, pull out the seedlings, and then I’d start again with the real garden I was planning for the year. Of course, that never happened, and that’s how we’ve come to know that time as the year of the cabbage.
This recipe was one of my favorite new cabbage discoveries, and it is a great way to make use of a lot of cabbage at once. I caramelize the cabbage as if it were onions, add a rich broth, and top it with cheesy toasts. It’s sweeter and heartier than onion soup, and it’s even turned a few people who thought they didn’t like cabbage into big cabbage enthusiasts.
- Yield: 2 ½ Quarts
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
- 10 cups finely sliced green cabbage (1 large head)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 quarts chicken or beef stock
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ stale baguette, cut into ¼-inch slices
- ½ cup grated Parmesan or Gruyère cheese
Make the soup
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the cabbage and onion and cook, stirring often, until the cabbage wilts, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is golden and shrinks by at least half, 35 to 45 minutes.
- Add the thyme and cook for a few more minutes. Pour the stock into the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a low boil, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pot and incorporate them into the broth. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the tamari and season with salt and pepper.
- While the soup cooks, make the toasts: Preheat the broiler to 450°F or medium-high, depending on your broiler options. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with the cheese. Keeping a close eye on the toasts, broil until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Serve the soup in big bowls, with a few toasts floating in each one.