I only recently discovered Marcella Hazan (a shame I know), but if you love simple food (a la Alice Waters) then you must seek out Marcella Hazan’s simple Italian cooking. It’s perfect for CSA cooking – it really lets the flavors shine through. This cabbage soup is simple, although takes some non-active cooking time. After a summer of crunchy slaws and light cabbage stir-fries, this cooked cabbage is a nice alternative for fall with an almost sweet flavor. This recipe is two steps, the first longer step can done in advance, or spend a Sunday afternoon simmering this on the stove. The original recipe calls for meat stock – it really does have a richer flavor, but feel free to use vegetables if you must.
I’m using a cone shaped Wakefield cabbage (my favorite!), but a green or Savoy cabbage will also work. Take your time slicing the cabbage into thin shreds, then cutting them into bite size pieces or use your food processor to shred.
Brown the onions in the oil, this recipe calls for a generous helping of olive oil, and a longer than usual cooking time for onions. It really forms the flavor base of the dish, so take your time and don’t skimp on the oil.
The cabbage cooks covered for an hour to an hour plus 30 minutes. I know this sounds weird, and goes against most of our cabbage preparation. But trust Marcella, this cabbage turns out sweet and melty – almost caramelized. Cook on very low heat, and check the liquid every few minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water every time the pot seems to dry. Now we’re ready to simmer this into a soup! To make the soup bring the cabbage and stock to a boil. Add the rice, and cook at a low boil for about 20 minutes, adding stock as necessary. I added stock a few times, so I recommend having some extra on hand.
Marcella Hazan’s Rice & Cabbage Soup
1 cabbage (about 2 lbs, shredded or sliced very thin into bite size shreds)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 – 6 cups vegetable or beef stock
2/3 cup arborio rice
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper
Place the onion and olive oil into a large sauté pan, over medium heat. Cook stirring occasionally until the onion is a gold brown, add the garlic until it starts to brown, then add the shredded cabbage. Turn the cabbage over 2 or 3 times to coat it well, and cook it until it is wilted.
Add salt, pepper, and the vinegar. Stir to combine, lower the heat to minimum, and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until it is very tender, turning it from time to time. If pan becomes dry add 2 tablespoons water, as necessary. When done, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. The cabbage can be prepared a few days in advance or served as a side dish on it’s own.
To make the soup. Bring the cabbage and 4 cups of the stock to a boil. Add rice, and cook at a low boil for 20 minutes until the rice is tender. Add stock as necessary, but the soup should be thick, a cross between risotto and soup. When the rice is done stir in the butter and parmesan. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with extra grated parmesan.