Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Soup Project: Dilled Cabbage, Mushroom and Potato Soup

I stopped at Tall Grass Bakery to buy a baguette last Saturday at the market and while I was waiting to pay, I spotted the most beautiful rustic pumpernickel loaf I'd ever seen. How could I have missed this lovely bread on other weeks? I often see things I'd never noticed previously while waiting to pay, and this bread practically shouted for a cabbage or sauerkraut soup. I'd been looking for a good cabbage soup, so I bought the bread.

On my way out of the market I stopped at the Patty Pan Grill to get tickets for this dinner event. While I was there, I mentioned my bread and cabbage soup idea to Devra. She told me she had a great cabbage soup recipe in her book Local Bounty."It tastes like a corned beef deli sandwich without the beef," she'd said.

The idea of sandwich flavors in a soup bowl intrigued me. I never thought about adding mustard to a cabbage soup, but if you tried my Rustic Lentil Soup recipe, I get mustard as unique soup ingredient. And a sandwich in a soup bowl sounds like peasant food to me-- simple, good flavored food.

When you think about it soup has sustained people since the beginning of time. I wondered how old this culinary dish was, so I checked The History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat and found this illustration of an open-air kitchen in 1570. Of course it's only logical that soup's predecessors were made in big cauldrons over open fires.
Here are a few other things I discovered about soup in history:
  • Soup is probably as old as the first fire, but the oldest recorded soup can be dated to about 6,000 B.C.
  • The word soup is Germanic in origin and comes from the word "sop" which refers to a piece of bread used to soak up a thick stew
  • In 1772 a cookbook called The Frugal Houswife contained an entire chapter devoted to soup
  • During colonial days, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups.
  • "Pocket soups" that could be reconsituted with a little hot water were often carried by colonial travelers

For this cabbage soup recipe, I combined the best of two recipes for this soup, but my main idea came from Local Bounty. I added the mushrooms, celery and carrots from Mushroom Barley Soup in Vegetarina (1984,The Dial Press) by Nava Atlas. I didn't add the barley for this soup because even though I added vegetables, the rule is: less is usually better with soup and I try not to add a starch that competes with the star of the show which means potatoes, for this recipe anyway. Get potatoes with a good flavor from the market because the soup doesn't cost much to make and a good potato flavor is worth the extra expense.

Dilled Cabbage, Mushroom and Potato Soup with Pumpernickel Bread
The idea is to place a slice of bread into each soup bowl, but I couldn't stand to do it with Tall Grass Bakery bread, it's just too beautiful.

1/2 ounce dry mushrooms (use a wild mix or porcini)
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 teaspoons dill weed
1 teaspoon whole caraway seeds
4 cups water or stock
2 medium potatoes, washed and cut into bite-size chunks
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
4 to 6 cups shredded cabbage
2 to 3 tablespoons mustard
Sliced pumpernickel bread

1. Soak mushrooms in boiling water for at least an hour. Remove mushrooms and chop, reserving liquid.

2. Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add oil, onion, celery, and carrots. Reduce heat, stir and cook until onions are soft. Stir in garlic, dill, and caraway seeds. Then pour in water or stock, mushroom water and add chopped mushrooms and potatoes. Cook for 30 minutes or until potatoes are done, add salt, pepper to taste. Blend in mustard and all but 1/2 cup of the shredded cabbage.

3. Garnish with remaining cabbage and serve with pumpernickel bread. Serves 6 to 8


Joan said...

this soup sounds wonderful and I LOVE pumpernickel! thanks

ddzeller said...

Yeah, it's the pumpernickel, and the perfect season to appreciate it!