Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Veselka's Cabbage Soup

"Finally!" you are thinking,  "she gets back to writing about food!".  Please to note my descriptor dear reader.  This blog is about life in general, with an emphasis on cooking, but please don't think I could or would leave out any attempt to write about fun, OK?  Sheesh.  And fun is, well, whatever I say it is.  My blog.  Nyaaah! Ahem. Meanwhile, back at the post....

Every so often I read a recipe I simply have to try.

Sometimes that will be due to a featured ingredient (anything with bacon or chorizo), sometimes it is the photograph that makes me think "I want me some of that!".

Although I know next to nothing about Ukranian cuisine (borsht?) SmittenKitten recently blogged about a soup that was so delicious it was something foodies ordered in the heat of summertime. A soup so flavorful that after one taste from a friend's bowl she had order regret and knew she had to do whatever it took to get the recipe and reproduce the soup on her own.

After reading her post and the comments that followed, I knew I too had to make this soup. Even after my friend who works in the food coop where I was shopping for supplies queried as I flourished the recipe at him asking me if I was going on the Cabbage Soup Diet, I was undeterred.

Veselka's Cabbage Soup - you will be mine!! (cue maniacal laughter)I followed the recipe from Smitten's post with two minor exceptions. First, I had turnips on hand to use up so I swapped turnip out for the carrots called for. This made mine a slightly less colorful bowl perhaps but the flavors were comparable and the results were still big time delicious.

The second exception was that I couldn't get a butt roast so I used thick cut chops.  Finally, not really an exception but rather more a detour, I was certain I had whole allspice berries on hand. I mean, look in this spice cabinet, would you?How could I not have whole allspice berries in there!?! I have juniper berries for Pete's sake! I thought of using ground allspice, I sure enough had plenty of that on hand, but at the last minute decided to go into my pickling spice mix and see if I couldn't identify and fish some whole allspice berries out of there.

So that's just what I did.

Once my ingredients were assembled it turned out this soup requires a little more effort than I realized when I first scanned the recipe.

This soup calls for dicing up (rather than the easier rough chop) pretty much everything before you toss it into the pot. There are intervals between steps which makes the timing for that pretty unhurried.

It turns out the dicing is necessary if you want things to cook through in the time alloted, and more importantly it makes for a nice spoon full.  Due to the dice, every flavor is represented in every bite, which is clearly the desired result. It is only tricky for me because I have knives so dull they inspired this post by ChefSon after working in my kitchen a bit for Thanksgiving.

Yeah, that's me all right - ever the inspiration....

ChefSon knows it is BYOK at our place (Bring Your Own Knives) if you want anything that would qualify as "sharp", but I am guessing he really thought he could resist cooking past putting together the gravy. Hey. We made do then and I got everything diced for the soup yesterday without losing any digits. Alls well that eats well.

I need to tell you, sharp knives or no, this soup is well worth the effort. It is really, truly, deeply satisfying.Just the thing to take the chill off a winter's night for dinner and it certainly hit the spot reheated today for my lunch. As a matter of fact, if I was going to take on that cabbage soup diet I would be a happy camper if this was the soup I got to eat every day.Go visit SmittenKitten, grab the recipe, and give this a try. You will not be sorry. It is wonderful as promised. I am tipping my culinary hat to those Ukranian cooks who certainly know a thing or two about cabbage. Now if I had only made a loaf of Ukranian bread to go along with it! Next time.

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