Thursday, March 21, 2019

Cabbage Soup - Please, Sir, may I have some more?

I've always loved cabbage. In fact, I was not even deterred by mentions of it being a staple for prisoners in Siberia. Anti-Soviet writings were popular when I was quite young. 

Shchi or Russian-style cabbage soup - Victoria Vasilieva, via Wikimedia Commons

The prisoners had to build their own camps, cut down trees and were fed just enough to survive, Simmeth said. "We were served one-quarter loaf of bread and cabbage soup," he said.

Mostly, my mother made a dry cabbage and potato dish and it was tasty. What is more, during my graduation years, I had a Gujarati friend who introduced me to a version from her region. Even so, it was much the same dish. Of course, the South Indian dry dish, featuring only cabbage, must surely have been there and continues to hold a dominant position in my cooking repertoire.

Cabbage, as coleslaw, came into my world with the then popular Nirulas in Delhi. Cabbage with channa dal and coconut was stirred into my life by marriage. And, all this time, the size of the cabbages I bought remained decent for a small family. Also, cabbage rapidly reduces in volume when cooked.

However, somewhere along the way, the cabbage became gigantic. Where it was one of the easiest veggies to chop, even when the dish required mincing, cabbage now grew tough. At home, my partner and I often argue whether it is the region - Pune - or whether some tweaking has led to this unpleasant avatar. Whatever the reason, I struggle to use up cabbage now.

Yet cabbage is a valuable vegetable. It is also versatile and adds delightful crunch to salads and to Indo-Chinese  fusion dishes.

Even with such a range of things one can do with it and with all its health benefits, I struggled hard to use up the one cabbage I would pick up per week. I even tried cabbage juice and it's really not so bad at all!

Finally, being on a soup binge, I decided to go for this method. Only I can't quite imagine myself liking a clear soup with chunks or slices of cabbage. And so I chose the 'creamy' version.

Richard Lee - Chef Daniel's Kitchen: Cream of Cabbage Soup. 

My 'Cream of Cabbage Soup'

4 C chopped cabbage
1 green chili
1 small onion chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic to taste
A small bunch of coriander leaves
1 T coriander seeds
Stock or water

Saute the chopped veggies. Cool and blend. Boil with stock. Season.

Here is a more formal version: Cabbage Soup 

Cream of Cabbage Soup - With Meat

A Vegetarian Version

Cabbage offers a lot of versatility. Here are some recipes that I've bookmarked over the years:
Cabbage Manchurian
Cabbage Pakoda
Cabbage with Moong Dal

Cabbage juice, as I mentioned, is quite nice and when you make it and have it over the next day or two it sort of ferments and can be pleasantly but mildly fizzy. And the soup is soothing and sumptuous. Not at all like something served to prisoners! 

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Gita Madhu said...

Thanks, Nukkadwala! Thank you for the kind words and for reading.