Jamie Oliver's Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup

March  1, 2017
22 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

Adapted slightly from Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life (Hachette, 2008). —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 3 quarts good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 Savoy cabbage, stalks removed, outer leaves separated, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 big handfuls cavolo nero and/or kale, stalks removed, leaves washed and roughly chopped
  • 16 slices stale country-style or sourdough bread
  • 1 clove garlic, unpeeled, cut in 1/2
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 14 slices pancetta or bacon
  • 1 (4-ounce) can (or two 2-ounce cans) anchovy fillets in oil, about 20-25 anchovy fillets
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
  • 7 ounces fontina cheese, grated
  • 5 ounces freshly grated Parmesan, plus a little for serving
  • 1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large knobs butter
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage, leaves picked
  1. Heat your oven to 350° F.
  2. Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and add the cabbage, cavolo nero and/or kale. Cook for a few minutes until softened (you may have to do this in 2 batches). Remove the cabbage to a large bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon, leaving the stock in the pan.
  3. Toast all but 5 of the bread slices on a hot griddle pan or in a toaster, then rub them on 1 side with the garlic halves, and set aside.
  4. Next, heat a large 4-inch-deep ovenproof casserole-type pan or Dutch oven on the stove top, pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil and add your pancetta and anchovies. When the pancetta is golden brown and sizzling, add the rosemary and cooked cabbage and toss to coat the greens in all the lovely flavors. Put the mixture and all the juices back into the large bowl.
  5. Place 4 of the toasted slices in the casserole-type pan, in 1 layer. Spread over 1/3 of the cabbage leaves, sprinkle over a 1/4 of the grated fontina and Parmesan and add a drizzle of olive oil. Repeat this twice, but don't stress if your pan's only big enough to take two layers—that's fine. Just pour in all the juices remaining in the bowl and end with a layer of untoasted bread on top. Push down on the layers with your hands.
  6. Pour the stock gently over the top until it just comes up to the top layer. Push down again and sprinkle over the remaining fontina and Parmesan. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle over some good-quality olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for around 30 minutes, or until crispy and golden on top.
  7. When the soup is ready, taste the broth. If it has gotten a bit salty from the anchovies and cheese, add a little water till it tastes delicious to you. Divide it between your bowls. Melt the butter in a frying pan and quickly fry the sage leaves until they're just crisp and the butter is lightly golden (not burned!). Spoon a bit of the flavored butter and sage leaves over the soup and add another grating of Parmesan. Such a great combo!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Emma Kelsey
    Emma Kelsey
  • Young Mimi Lee
    Young Mimi Lee
  • Jen Vibul Priddy
    Jen Vibul Priddy
  • Emily Dixon
    Emily Dixon
  • linzarella
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

25 Reviews

Emma K. March 6, 2023
This was excellent. We halved the recipe, and added a bit less bread than called for. Subbed anchovy paste and used about 1 T (less than the recipe). A perfect soup for a cold winter night!
morgan February 14, 2023
I love everything from Jamie Oliver but the fishy flavor from the anchovies did not work for me! I love fish and I love anchovies, but 20-25 anchovies is no small amount. It created a very, very intense fishy umami broth. Adding water didn’t help. I ended up tossing the whole thing out - neither my husband or I could eat it, and we eat everything.
Young M. January 19, 2023
Nice flavours, but very salty! I ended up adding two litres of water which helped slightly as the bread retained a lot of salt. Maybe using bacon made it worse. Next time I'll double the amount of cabbage and use less bacon.
Jen V. December 6, 2022
This was delicious. I messed up and used 3 cups broth instead of 3Q. It was a savory casserole and would have been so nice with a holiday roast or turkey! I wonder about using beans instead of bread to make it more healthful and less mushy. The anchovy/bacon slurry would really elevate almost anything. I used Napa cabbage (not destemmed) and guanciale because that’s what I had. Both were perfect.
Dyane S. December 6, 2022
I think beans would be terrific in the dish but you'd lose something without the bread. I had made it many times with a great local sourdough and when I moved away I thought I had a good local loaf but it turned into mush . Really wrecked it and I was serving guests. Few supermarket sourdough will have the body this needs to maintain it's structure while absorbing so much broth
LL January 11, 2022
Really delicious. Even my less adventurous, cheese-disliking teen loved it. Definitely will make again.
Dyane S. January 10, 2022
Absolutely one of my all time favorite recipes since I saw Jaime make it on his program. Skip nothing. You won't regret it. Use the best sourdough- anything inferior will turn to mush like white bread. You'll probably have leftovers. It freezes beautifully . When you want to reheat it, do it in the oven with a bit more broth. You'll get gorgeously crisped topping and the flavors are even better
Emily D. April 11, 2020
This was better than I could have ever imagined. It’s easily adaptable and perfect for Covid cooking.
It’s just the 2 of us so I kinda quartered the recipe without actually weighing or measuring anything. The bread was half a freezer-burned baguette, pancetta was normal (Japanese) bacon, regular old sad cabbage, fontina was replaced with Gruyere and I added a quarter sliced onion that was hanging out in the fridge. It was delicious and made heaps. Good quality stock is a necessity!!
Jusika April 12, 2018
would a vegetarian version taste good or would the soup not be worth it minus the anchovies?
Talicia S. September 16, 2021
Perhaps look into a vegan Worcestershire sauce? Wouldn't be identical but could come close.
Lise October 29, 2021
Try Yondu Vegetable Umami – Premium Plant-based Seasoning Sauce.
linzarella December 12, 2017
Best instructions for reheating? Just back in the oven at 350?
Kristen M. December 12, 2017
I've reheated it mostly in the microwave just for expediency, splashing in a little more water first, since some of the broth's inevitably been drunk up. But I've also done the low and slow oven thing at around 300F, covered, and it's worked (might also need a splash of water if it looks dry).
linzarella December 11, 2017
Would this be just as good with regular green cabbage instead of savoy? That's all they had at Whole Foods!
Kristen M. December 11, 2017
Yes, in fact I have some in my fridge with regular old bodega cabbage RIGHT NOW.
linzarella December 11, 2017
Oh my god I'm so glad I didn't let having the wrong kind of cabbage stop me. This was freaking amazing! My only regret is that I halved the recipe. Anyone reading this, please don't make the same mistake!
mjhaden November 8, 2017
Would this taste as good without the anchovies?
Kristen M. November 8, 2017
No, I'm afraid not (I've tried!), or at least without compensating with other flavorful ingredients. They're a big reason why it's so delicious—but you don't taste them as anchovies, just a deeper, meatier umami flavor.
Lise October 29, 2021
You could try using Yondu Vegetable Umami – Premium Plant-based Seasoning Sauce. It’s a vegan “fish sauce.” I haven’t tried this recipe yet as I just found it but I would use Yondu instead of the anchovies because of family members with fish allergies.
samanthaalison March 25, 2017
THIS WAS AWESOME. I'm not sure I'd really call it a soup - it was like halfway between soup and bread pudding? But the flavor is so good. Can't wait to eat the leftovers. I thought my 7.25 qt dutch oven would be too big, but it was almost completely full. The sage is delicious but not essential if you don't have it around.
Sarah P. March 6, 2017
Any suggestions for substitutions for those of us who do not eat bacon?
Kristen M. March 6, 2017
Adding my comment here too, so others can see! There's so much great flavor in this soup, I actually don't think you'll miss it (I did a pretty bare bones riff recently and didn't), but if you wanted to add a little smoked paprika, it would probably fit in nicely.
Miachel P. March 10, 2017
Good thinking! A little bit of tomato paste might be good too for depth of flavor in place of pancetta.
Patricia H. March 5, 2017
Drain anchovies of their oil? Knob of butter = 1 oz? Ah, specificity - a vanishing art, I fear.
From T. March 10, 2017
Jamie's recipes are general by nature. Cooking is an art, not a science. Liberality encouraged.