Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Soupe Aux Choux - Garbure (Main-Course Cabbage Soup)

I'm not really sure why this soup is called cabbage soup when it's really more of a combination vegetable soup. I'm not sure the ratio of cabbage to other vegetables is high enough to warrant the name.  Maybe I should contact the French government about this issue.

This soup can basically be a meal unto itself. The full recipe nearly filled up my Le Creuset pot, so it got halved. And it still fed three people with plenty of leftovers. I would definitely remake this soup on a cold day when my nose is red and I just want my electric blanket.

Soupe Aux Choux - Garbure (Main-Course Cabbage Soup)
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

3½ quarts water
3 to 4 cups peeled, quartered boiling potatoes
A 1½ pound chunk of lean salt pork, lean bacon, or smoked, unprocessed ham
2 pounds or 3 quarts of roughly sliced cabbage
8 crushed peppercorns or a big pinch of ground chili peppers
Salt as necessary, added near the end
6 parsley sprigs tied with 1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
½ teaspoon dried thyme
4 cloves mashed garlic
2 medium onions studded with 2 cloves
2 peeled, quartered carrots
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread
Optional additions:
2 to 4 peeled, quartered turnips
2 to 3 sliced celery stalks
1 to 2 cups fresh white beans, or half-cooked navy beans, or add canned white or red beans to soup 10 to 15 minutes before end of simmering

Place water, potatoes, and meat in a large pot and bring it to the boil.  Add the cabbage and all the other ingredients.  Simmer partially covered for 1½ to 2 hours or until the meat is tender.  Discard parsley bundle.  Remove the meat, slice it into serving pieces, and return it to the pot.  Correct seasoning.  Skim off accumulated fat.  Serve, accompanied by the bread.

Makes 8 servings

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