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Down To Earth

At times it just comes down to basics. Favorite dishes using simple ingredients, handed down through each generation of women. Each woman adding their fingerprint on a family history. We are never alone in our kitchens. Our kitchens are crowded with a sense of that history. A Grandmother’s pottery mixing bowl, a well-used potato masher, an old Zeroll Co. ice-cream scoop (patent #20) are touchstones of things shared in an unbroken line.

Cabbage, potatoes and chicken although simple ingredients can be turned into something rich and satisfying. Chicken soup with cabbage and potatoes echoes a Eastern European history. Many cultures use these ingredients in ways that define them. It was a time when nothing was wasted. Chicken carcasses were turned into stock, along with onion and potato peels. Seasoning could be anything from vinegars, seeds or herbs. I love the idea of these benchmarks when I cook. Something old and something new arrive in steaming bowls of healthy goodness. In the remains of the day, food is still love.

CHICKEN, CABBAGE & POTATO SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  2. 1 medium onion, chopped

  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced

  4. 6 cups shredded white cabbage

  5. 1/2 bulb of fennel, sliced thinly

  6. 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch cubes

  7. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  8. 4 cups shredded chicken from roasted or rotisserie chicken

  9. 6 cups chicken stock *(see note)

  10. 1 tablespoon fennel seeds

  11. 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar **

  12. 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan, Pecorino or Gruyere cheese to top bowls of soup ***

  13. Garnish with fennel fronds or chopped Italian parsley

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook stirring often until onion is translucent, about 4-6 minutes. Add cabbage, fennel and garlic; cook stirring often until the cabbage and fennel soften, about 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Stir in chicken stock, potatoes, and fennel seed. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, making sure potatoes are softened.

  3. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar. Spoon into bowls and top with desired cheese, fennel fronds or parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 4-6

NOTES:

* I can’t say how important homemade chicken stock is to the overall quality of this soup. Consider taking the time for this (particularly on a quiet, cold winter’s day).

** Spanish sherry vinegar is equally important to the quality of this soup. I use Columela Reserva Sherry Vinegar, which can be found in many well-stocked grocery stores.

***If using Parmesan or Pecorino, shred these cheeses on a fine box shredder; if using Gruyere use the larger holes.

“Soup is the song of the hearth and the home.”
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