My Aunt Carol is the undisputed cook in our family. It's true that many of us enjoy the art of preparing food, but she has a special knack for it and has definitely inspired me over the years. She handles the turkey at holiday time like a boss, bakes the best chocolate cake for birthdays, and always makes sure there's some thoughtfully prepared vegetables in the mix for balance. Even as kids, dinner at her house was never a “do we have to go?” kind of affair.
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?She makes this cabbage soup all through the winter up until the first cool and damp days of spring. I remember working in the garden center of my Dad's store in early May a couple years ago. It was raining, cold, and miserable. I was sporting my dad's flannel coat and steadily shivering, completely distracted from the work at hand. Lunchtime rolled around and this soup was heating up on the burner inside. Once I got to sit up on a counter and hover over a bowl of that soup with a crust of bread, I immediately felt revived.??
When I asked her about it, she didn't have a totally parsed out recipe. There were a few crucial components -- the soup's base is always cabbage, beans, and crushed tomatoes. Any vegetable, grain, herb, and spice additions can shift according to availability. I like to maintain the wintry feel and reach for fresh rosemary, lots of garlic, and a pinch or two of chili flakes if I'm feeling a cold coming on. It's nice to have a batch in the fridge or freezer during the crush of holiday time. A quick hour at the stove will provide some peaceful stolen moments of nourishment, which we could all probably use a few of.
Cabbage and White Bean Soup
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil 1 medium cooking onion, diced 1 medium carrot, diced 2 celery stalks, diced 1 leek, white + light green parts only, diced 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 sprig rosemary, leaves minced 3 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 can crushed tomatoes 1 liter vegetable stock 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded 2 cups cooked white beans 1 handful flat leaf parsley, chopped Salt Pepper