Friday, December 19, 2008

Sybil's Cabbage Soup

My friend Sybil bills herself as a science geek, but she's one of the best story tellers I've ever met and incredibly creative. She's brought more than one plant or tree to vivid life for me as we've walked in the woods or simply sat talking, and shared with me many a tale of her plant and garden adventures. Both she and her husband are terrific cooks - his focus is Lebanese and hers more traditional American and Polish with Lebanese influence - and a dinner invitation to their home is simply never declined.

We were at her house the other night, and she casually brought over a small cup of soup. "Oh, I just made this cabbage soup, and thought you might like to try it," she said in an off-hand manner. We took the cup and took our dutiful spoonfuls, and then fought over who got to eat the remainder. I don't even like cooked cabbage, for heaven's sake. This soup, though, is changing my mind.

A little zippy and full of seasonal foods it was hearty, warming, and heart-warming. And it tasted good the same day she made it from some leftover cabbage from cabbage rolls. (We didn't get any of those this time, but I'm hopeful for the next round.)

Sybil's Inspired Cabbage Soup
8 cups of cabbage, sliced up somewhat thinly
10 cups of water
2 teaspoons salt
3 bay leaves
3 medium carrots or 1.5 cups
1 medium onion
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 (or more) teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons dried mustard
1.5 (or more) teaspoons dried spearmint
2 cans Northern beans
3 shakes Tobasco

My adjustments based on current availability in my pantry:
- I used a leek instead of an onion.
- I used mustard seed instead of dried mustard.
- I cut open a bag of peppermint tea and used that instead of dried spearmint. Two very different flavors I now realize, and that minty flavor isn't floating by in each mouthful as it was in Sybil's original version.
- I used dry beans not canned.
- I shook out some chipotle in place of the Tobasco.
- I threw in a couple potatoes for extra fun.


Maggie said...

We live on cabbage soups in various forms (I think it's bred into my eastern European genes) but this is a completely new spice combination. I'm going to try it soon!

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

It's really good...except for the version I made. I'll be curious to hear how yours turns out.