Day 118: The delicate aroma of boiled cabbage

April 28, 2007

This evening, L and I made Peasant Soup which is a hearty vegetable soup with chopped ham steak. It’s ridiculously easy to make; as you chop onion, shallot, ham steak, leek, carrot, garlic and celery, you throw them in a pan with some olive oil. Hefty chunks of cabbage are added, salt and sugar is thrown on top, and a couple of cups of water provide the liquid for the cabbage to be steamed. 15 minutes later, come back to the pan, add chicken stock and white kidney beans, simmer, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

We did have plans for friends to come over this evening, but that was cancelled for various reasons. While this isn’t the worst meal in the world, serving it to guests is almost on a par with serving hot dog salad, except without the novelty value. The institutional aroma has permeated our entire condo. Our next door neighbour is having a party this evening- I hope the smell of long-boiled cabbage which is certainly wafting down the stairwell, doesn’t put anyone off. The soup tastes very much like Eastern European pub-fare. Whilst this is apparently a French recipe, the original is cooked for 4 hours, which must result in a richer, more complex soup. At the very least, the ham must be from a shank rather than a pre-cooked slice in vacuum-sealed packaging. It is advised that this soup is served with a Bordeaux wine, and that the last few slurps of the soup are knocked back with a mouthful of wine. If we’d have had friends we would probably have done this, but L and I are still so wiped out from our trip that even looking at wine would send us to sleep. I’d imagine the wine would help the flavour of the soup considerably. A splash of wine in the soup would also help; the fact that this is herb-free, and only seasoned with salt and pepper, lends an unfortunate school-dinner type quality to the meal.

On a cold winter day (rather than our far-too-hot-already-and it’s-only-April day), this would warm the cockles of your heart. I’m not sure that I would actively seek out the recipe for this soup to cook it again, as there are so many soups which smell delicious as they cook, but this wouldn’t be disappointing, particularly if you cooked it outside. Tomorrow we are making Boneless Rib-Eye Steaks with Killa’ Chimichurri and Mushrooms with Smoky Chipotle and Wilted Spinach, which sounds like considerably more work than this evening’s meal. Let’s hope it smells better.

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