Soup can seem intimidating. There are so many variations — brothy, cream, puréed, and then by cuisine. However, if you get into the flow and understand its component parts, you will be free to cook soup with the seasons and subject only to your imagination, seasonal ingredients and your desire.
It’s a beautiful fall weekend day and I’m in the mood for kitchen puttering. I cut up some refrigerator-staple vegetables and made vegetable stock — 45 mins on slow simmer: 2 onions, quartered, shallot, carrots in 1-2” chunks, celery in 2” pieces, garlic cloves at the bottom of the garlic bowl thrown in whole and in large number (garlic is a major food group for moi), parsley sprigs, a bay leaf, pinch of peppercorns, and some quartered mushrooms that are on hand.
Pinto beans in the instant pot. (45 mins with spring/filtered water from coop for about 1 # beans, picked over and rinsed, and put in pot with water up to 1/2 way mark and a good pinch of kosher salt. (My hard water does not let beans cook properly to soften). Let pressure release naturally.
Brown rice in the rice cooker to eat rice and beans —or maybe soup? — later in the week. It’s a pleasure to have cooked ingredients on hand to give one a leg up when it’s time to make a meal. Water is 2x rice. I like medium grain brown rice.
Here’s the cabbage soup I made:
Cone cabbage, cut in half, cored and sliced.
Mirepoix: onions, carrots and celery (except oops! First batch burned so I restarted soup and there was no more celery.)
Sauté mirepoix for 6-8 minutes in olive oil over low heat — and don’t do what I did and leave at higher heat and leave the room and return to find them burned. If that happens you have to start over. There is no resucitating burnt vegetables to make soup.
Add in some thyme, salt, perhaps some fennel/anise seed, and a bay leaf (because well, soup).
Add in cabbage, stir, add salt & pepper. Add vegetable stock and also some plain water to cover — or more if you want — and let cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until cabbage is soft but not entirely wilted. Taste and see if it tastes cooked.
Add leftover cooked chicken sausage, and heat through.
Put cooked beans in bottom of soup bowl, and ladle soup on top. Try not be all smug about this amazingly delicious soup you just whipped up out of really nothing more than 1/2 head of cabbage and some vegetable stock. This delicious soup made at home on a fall day is almost as embracing as a kind hug to help mend a sad heart. And there will be more soup!
Skip the sautéing. To stock add:
onion, sliced and cut in half, carrot, peeled and sliced; cabbage, cored and sliced. Top with drizzle of sesame oil and soy. [Inspiration: Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie]