Deconstructed Cabbage Stew

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

It’s soup season and we love soups and stews here at S&SK! We’ve decided to do a Soup/Stew series this fall/winter season where we cook and blog about new recipes like this one and revisit old recipes to provide updates on some of our favorites. We just decided this late last week and voila! this recipe appeared in our Minneapolis paper in a regular column Sunday Supper.  The Minneapolis contingent of S&SK loved this dish (slightly adapted in ingredients and method from the original), both with and without the sour cream. We served with a baguette and some dark beer. Randy and I both thought it would be really good with a sour dough bread as well.

Deconstructed Cabbage Stew

Margaux says . . .

Jason and I loved this, too! The kids not as much, but since it was such a hit with Jason and me, I will try it again…I think the new flavors were what put the kids off, and sometimes we just need to try things a few times before they like it. The fun part about this was that my 6-year-old loves knowing what country our foods originate from, and we’ve never really had Hungarian food before, so he was really excited about this. We pulled out our world map and found where Hungary is, and then looked it up on the internet. We looked at pictures of Budapest, of the countryside, talked about traditions there, what music they listen to and different foods they eat. This is something I started last year when I was homeschooling him, and it has just become sort of the norm around here. His favorite so far is “Italian night,” which of course we do on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes we really “do it up” and make up a restaurant name, create a sign for our restaurant, put on music from that country while I’m cooking. It’s really fun!

I also served this with a baguette…I’ve been making my own bread lately with a book Aunt Suzy got me, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,”  which I can’t recommend enough! It makes bread making so easy, and the results are amazing. The baguette was sourdough, and it went perfectly with the stew. We had it with a cotes du Rhone, because it’s what we had on hand, and it was pretty good!

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Stew

Ingredients
1 1/2 lb. ground pork, beef or dark-meat turkey (Margaux used ground pork and AS used 1 lb. ground turkey)

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1/2 medium head regular or savoy cabbage, cut in 1/2-inch strips – about 12 cups

1-2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire or Pick-a-Peppa sauce

1/2 c. long grain rice (white or brown)

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dried

Sour cream for serving

Directions

Cook meat over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pot, drain grease and wipe with a paper towel. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion, carrot and cabbage. Sprinkle with paprika, allspice and cayenne and stir to blend. Add the browned meat back to the pot and cook, stirring, until cabbage is wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add stock, tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire or Pick-a-Peppa. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until cabbage is tender, 20-40 minutes to taste. (AS likes things more al dente so cooked for just 20 minutes.)

Add rice and season with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, until rice is just tender (it will cook more off the heat), about 15 minutes. If using brown rice, put in when you add the stock, etc.

Stir in dill. Serve in soup bowls with dollops of sour cream.

Vegetarian directions – from Margaux:

I have one vegetarian in my family, so any time we have a dish with meat, I have to make a veg version. This one was really easy. Cook the stew according to directions, just eliminating the meat at the beginning (and using vegetable stock, of course). When you add the rice, also add one can (or two cups cooked) great northern beans. We thought the beans were a great addition to the stew!

Winter Vegetable Minestrone

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

The Wall Street Journal ran this article a few weeks ago on Minestrone, including 3 delicious-looking recipes.  I love making Minestrone and the message and recipes here expanded my thinking as to what this soup is all about.  I love the quote “But minestrone is, ultimately, a hyper-personal and hyper-seasonal chameleon of a dish, tailored to the current harvest and the cravings of the maker. This soup embodies better than any other the enviable Italian virtue known as sprezzatura: an artful effortlessness.”  When Randy and I were talking Sunday morning about what we’d like for dinner, he said he had bought the ingredients for this soup. I had planned to make roasted salmon, potatoes and broccoli, but given I had a cold, the Minestrone sounded way more appealing.  Plus I didn’t have to cook – what’s not to like?! We both had seconds of this! Like many “ugly duckling” soups and stews that we’ve posted before (like this, this this and this), don’t let the bland look turn you away – this is one delicious soup, made even better by the unusual pesto.

Guest chef Randy Tatum says . . . 

This recipe looked like an interesting use of seasonal ingredients, including celery root which I don’t cook with enough. I thought the soup could use even more winter vegetables, so I added rutabaga. I found this easy to make, even if it takes a little chopping. It’s one of those dishes that can really be flexible in terms of ingredients and quantities. Unlike Suzy, who always has flavorful homemade chicken stock in the freezer, I take a rather relaxed approach to creating a stock for my soups. It’s called Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base and is a more than acceptable substitute. I often use their “No-Chicken Base”, which tastes just as good but is vegetarian.  The pesto is indeed unusual and I agree that it really adds to the finished product. 

The Winter Vegetable Minestrone

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium celery root, peeled and cubed

1 large parsnip, peeled and cubed

1 large rutabaga, peeled and cubed

4-5 (or more) cups chicken stock (or Better Than Bouillon per their instructions to equal 4-5 cups)

2 bay leaves

1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained

1½ cups yellow split peas

4 (or more) cups shredded cabbage

1 small apple, peeled and cubed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the yellow split peas in a small saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent and just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook till fragrant.  Stir in celery root, parsnip and rutabaga, cooking until fragrant, another 5 minutes. Add the stock, bay leaves, beans, split peas, cabbage and apple. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and simmer gently until celery root, parsnips and rutabaga soften, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The Pesto, Pasta and Final Assembly

8 ounces whole wheat pasta, small shapes (we used fusilli/spirals)

1 cup leafy greens – spinach, kale or chard (we used spinach), coarsely chopped

½ cup toasted pecans, chopped (we used roasted/salted)

¼ cup fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped

2 whole garlic cloves, peeled

¼ cup olive oil

Cook the pasta to al dente according to instructions.  Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, make the pesto. In a food processor, purée the greens, pecans, rosemary, whole garlic cloves, oil and a pinch of salt until mixture is reduced almost to a paste. Turn into a serving dish.

To serve, place desired amount of pasta into a soup bowl. Ladle as much soup as you want onto the pasta. Place a dollop of the pesto onto the soup and stir to blend. Enjoy!

Tuscan Bean Stew - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We are having a real Minnesota winter this year! A recent Sunday plunged to minus 14 degrees F, necessitating a hearty and warming stew. I spied this recipe on The Bitten Word blog, saw that it was their take on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe and was sold! It’s one of those recipes from Cook’s where they have experimented with many different methods to come up with the perfect approach. For this one, the recommendation was to brine the beans overnight and to cook slowly in the oven to achieve a creamy stew in which the beans remain mostly whole. We love Cook’s scientific approach to things here at S&SK and so jumped on this recipe. It turned out as promised! Margaux and I both cooked this, as well as my brother John, so we have lots of experience and opinions to share on this stew. We may have diverged a little on ingredients or methods, but one thing we all three have in common is that we thought this was delicious!

Margaux says . . .

The whole family loved this stew…even my 4-year-old, who has recently decided he is a picky eater. But picky in a way most kids are not…he’ll refuse to eat his mac & cheese, and instead gobble down a salad. And lately, anything I make that has everything “mixed together,” ie., stews, soups, casseroles, etc…basically everything I make in the winter…is deemed inedible. Or as he says, “gross.” But I thought I might have a “win” on my hands here, with beans, sausage and carrots included in the ingredients (some things on the “ok” list), and I was right.

Something I will say about this stew, is that if you have a big client meeting the next morning, or are going on a date the next night, I would definitely cut back on the garlic. We love garlic in our house, but even for us, 8 cloves was a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious! And I’ll make it the same way again next time. But just a warning…your date may wonder if you’re trying to fend off vampires if you eat this the night before. 🙂

Brining the Beans

2 cups dried cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed

3 tablespoons salt (sea salt or table salt, not kosher)

4 quarts cold water

Dissolve the salt in the water in a large bowl or pot. Add the beans and soak overnight or up to 24 hours. Drain the beans and rinse thoroughly. Set aside for use in the stew.

Making the Stew

3/4-1 pound of sweet Italian sausage (casings removed or bulk if available)

2 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 large onion, medium dice (1 1/2-2 cups)

2 celery ribs, medium dice (about 3/4 cup)

2 carrots, peeled and diced medium (about 1 cup)

8 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press or crushed with a knife blade

4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

3-4 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 small can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed

1/2 medium head of Savoy cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)

One sprig of fresh oregano

Salt and black pepper to taste (taste before adding salt)

Pre-heat the oven to 250°F. In a large Dutch oven, preferably cast iron, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage, breaking up into small pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon. When browned, remove from the pot and place on paper towel. Set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pot and turn heat down to medium. Add the onions, celery and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, water, bay leaves and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to a bubble. Cover the pot and place on a rack in the lower middle of the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 45 minutes or so, until beans are just softened but slightly firm in the center.  Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the reserved sausage, cabbage and tomatoes. Place back in the oven and cook for another 30-45 minutes or so, until the cabbage is tender.

Tuscan Bean Stew

Remove pot from the oven and submerge the oregano sprig in the stew. Cover and let stand 20-30 minutes. Remove the oregano and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil if desired and a nice crusty bread.

COOK’S NOTES – Aunt Suzy:Ingredients The original recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds of sausage. I used 1 pound (of turkey sausage) and thought it was still too much, although I prefer meat in recipes like this for flavoring vs. a main ingredient. I used 3 cups of water, but my stew came out very thick so I think I’ll try 4 cups next time I make it.  Adjust meat amount and liquid to your preferences. I used a garlic press for my garlic, which I think resulted in a less garlicky result than Margaux described; she crushed the garlic with a knife blade (although I love garlic, so I might try that one day!). Regular green cabbage can be substituted if you can’t find Savoy. The original CI recipe called for pancetta and kale – I think we need to try that one also!  Methods I learned 3 things from this recipe: 1) The brining made for ultra-creamy beans as promised, 2) Cooking in the oven at a low temp made for beans that did not break apart, and 3) Adding tomatoes later in the cooking process insured that the skins of the beans were not tough.

COOK’S NOTES – Margaux: I made this on a weeknight, but I prepped everything ahead of time on Sunday, so it made it very quick and easy. Otherwise, this is one that I would probably make on a weekend, because it does take awhile, and you have to remember to do the beans the night before, etc. So I soaked the beans, chopped the cabbage, carrots, onion and celery, and had them all stored in the fridge and ready for Tuesday night. Also, I only used 3 cups of water instead of 4, as we like our stews less brothy around here.