Food History

Cabbage and White Bean Soup

Every week, we’re unearthing Heirloom Recipes -- dishes that have made their way from one generation's kitchen to the next.

Today: Laura Wright of The First Mess makes a hearty and reviving winter soup.

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

Serves 8-10

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

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here. 

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I cook for a living, and for every other reason you could imagine. Loves: eating with friends, any vegetable, whiskey, and casual gardening.

1 Comment

Jara November 12, 2014
This looks great. Do you know what size can of tomatoes you use?