Cabbage soup isn’t exactly the sexiest sounding dinner, I’ll give you that, but I’d be hard pressed to find something more comforting and satisfying in the depths of January. After months of decadent eating and celebrations, I crave the simplicity of meals made with just a few high quality ingredients. Slowly simmered vegetable soup with a hunk of chewy bread is exactly what I need. Though this cabbage soup only has a few ingredients, don’t mistake it for a bland meal. The rich stock, sweet tender cabbage and chewy farro are pulled together with a heavy shower of Parmigiano Reggiano and peppery drizzles of olive oil. It’s incredibly flavorful and satisfying. The splash of red wine vinegar keeps this soup fresh, and the lemon juice gives you the option to brighten the flavors even more (although I tend to skip it in favor of a more subtle soup). If you want to make this a more well rounded meal, throw in a soft poached egg for protein— the runny yolk will enrich the broth and fill out your dinner. So will a thick slice of seedy bread and a glass of Alsatian pinot gris. Enjoy!
cabbage, onion and farro soup
serves 4 | recipe from Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden
1 pound cabbage (a small head), savoy or green
extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 sprig rosemary or thyme
1 tbsp red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
2/3 cup farro
4 cups meat or chicken broth, homemade or low sodium store-bought, plus more if needed
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Cut out the cabbage core and finely chop it. Cut the leaves into fine shreds, either by slicing through the chunk of cabbage or by separating the leaves, rolling them into a cylinder, and slicing crosswise into 1/8" ribbons (chiffonade).
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cabbage core, a pinch of salt, and a few twists of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to soften and become fragrant, but not at all browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes until the garlic is soft as well.
Add the shredded cabbage leaves and rosemary or thyme. Cover the pot and let steam for a bit to soften the leaves, then toss the cabbage to help it wilt and soften more. Cook, covered, until the cabbage is very tender and sweet, at least 30 minutes.
When the cabbage is ready, stir in the vinegar. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, in another saucepan, heat a glug of olive oil over medium heat. Add the farro and cook, stirring constantly, until the farro is lightly toasted and fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes.
Scrape the farro into the cabbage pot (or put the cabbage into the farro pot-- whichever is bigger) and add 4 cups broth. Adjust the heat to a lazy simmer and cook until the farro is tender and all the flavors are married, 25 to 35 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice (if desired-- I usually skip it!). The soup should be very thick, but if it seems like it needs more liquid, add another 1/2 cup water or broth. Taste and adjust with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice. Serve the soup in shallow bowls, with a shower of parmigiano and a drizzle of olive oil on top, with more cheese passed at the table.