A little while ago I was visiting one of our daughters, who was a bit under the weather, and when I asked her if there was anything I could fix for her, she handed me a recipe for a savoy cabbage potato soup. I don’t know where she got it — there are a lot of recipes kind of like this floating around online — but it looked so easy and direct that I was happy to give it a try.
It is easy and direct, and also hearty and soothing and a gentle pale green — the perfect soul-warming weeknight meal for sweater weather.
Cabbage and potatoes have a long, impressively multicultural history together. They’ve been combined deliciously from Poland to Hungary, Ireland, China and Ethiopia, all the way to tiny Suriname. Jacques Pépin adds some sausage and scallions, then serves the resulting soup with a crusty French bread. In the UK, cabbage and potatoes are the backbone of a traditional leftovers favorite, bubble and squeak.
Savoy cabbage is that cabbage with the crazy-beautiful crinkly exterior. When you choose one, look for a round cabbage with deep green outer leaves. The outer leaves should be deep green. It should be heavy for its size and feel nice and dense. It is full of fiber and vitamins, and it is milder, sweeter and softer than regular cabbage. If you find regular cabbage too tough or rubbery, this is the cabbage for you.
If you can’t find Savoy cabbage—or if you’re not afraid of regular cabbage—you can substitute it. The soup will be slightly more robust in flavor, still quite delicious. You can even skip the cream finish and the butter—it’s just as suave and comforting dairy-free.
Savoy Cabbage Potato Soup
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 small Savoy cabbage (1 pound), shredded
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
6 cups homemade chicken stock (or reduced-sodium store-bought broth)
3 scallions — 2 whole scallions with the root end trimmed off, one trimmed and then cut into thin rings, for garnish
salt and freshly ground black pepper
cream or half-and-half, optional
1. Heat the olive oil and butter over a medium flame in a big heavy bottomed pot that has a tight fitting lid. Add the cabbage, garlic, and shallots. Stir to coat with the oil and then sauté over modest heat until the cabbage is a bit wilted, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the potatoes, the herbes de Provence and the stock. If the stock doesn’t come up high enough to reach the top of the potatoes, add water or more stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Working in batches, process the soup in a blender or food processor, along with the whole scallions, until it is smooth. Return to the soup pot to reheat. Salt and pepper it to taste and serve with a garnish of scallions. And, if you like, a drizzle of cream. Simple, delicious, hearty, soothing.
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