Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cabbage coming out of my ears

I have spent the better part of the past two weeks preparing and eating cabbage -- a vegetable that I never particularly cared for in the past, one which usually ended up in a jar of kim chi for lack of inspiration on my part. But I had an assignment: find a tasty soup that included cabbage...that a 5th grader could help to prepare and then would actually eat. Ah, a challenge, to be sure!

Testing out various cabbage-based soups was part of my recipe research for a FoodPrints' 5th grade lesson, which, like all FoodPrints lessons, would include a hands-on communal cooking component. The final cabbage soup recipe became part of a pretty great lesson centered around WWII Victory Gardens -- a lesson made especially awesome by the inclusion of incredible historic resources like the 1940s ration books and stamps that my co-instructor Barbara found in her parents' attic. During our discussion and activities about rationing, the kids really seemed to get the sense of urgency, the critical importance of resource conservation, and the self-sufficiency that families on the American home front exhibited during World War II. Not only that, but they turned around and started volunteering all kinds of great ideas about why and how kids today should conserve resources and encourage their peers and neighbors to garden today. It warmed my heart. And the soup warmed my body. (Thank goodness for that with these recent freezing temperatures!)

We made two big batches of cabbage soup during last week's classes and I've got two more classes -- and thus two more giant pots of cabbage soup to make -- next week. Good thing I've grown to love cabbage and beans. And after a taste of the final recipe, it appears that a whole lot of 11-year-olds have, too. They were clamoring for seconds like you wouldn't believe!

Tuscan Bean and Cabbage Soup

This recipe is adapted from TheSoup Bible. (Thanks, mom and dad, for this timely Christmas present!) There are many versions of this soup which uses ingredients many American families would have grown in their World War II victory gardens. This one uses white beans, leeks, and cabbage. It is especially great alongside whole wheat toast with fresh herb butter.

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, well-rinsed and sliced
  • 1 large potato, scrubbed and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups of dry white beans, pre-cooked and drained
    (or one 14-ounce can of cannellini beans, drained)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 generous cups green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, washed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried oregano)
  • 1 jar of canned tomatoes, chopped
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, leeks, potato, and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add stock. Stir in cabbage, parsley, oregano, beans, and tomatoes. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a rapid simmer. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon out about 1/3 of the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Return puree to the soup pot and stir together. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with a generous spoonful of Parmesan.

(It's okay that I'm putting the recipe up: the free, open-source FoodPrints lessons will be posted online soon!)

1 comment:

  1. You can learn more about the FoodPrints program in this recent post:


Thanks for your comment! Just making sure this isn't spam.... Thanks for your patience. :)Ibti