melted cabbage soup

Okay. So two green cabbages from last week, two more from the week before plus a napa = FIVE cabbages in my fridge. Thankfully, they’re not all huge.

I must admit some defeat here and confess that I gave my mom two cabbages yesterday. I would only ever give my local box bounty to someone I know would put it to good use and I feel confident that those cabbages have gone to a good home.

That leaves me with three more to get working on. Make that two, because tonight I made something called Melted Cabbage Soup.

The recipe itself is actually called Melted Cabbage and Green Garlic, and it is, on account of the latter ingredient, a spring dish. Replace the green garlic with a combo of regular garlic and leeks, though, and you’ve got yourself a cosy winter dish.

It is, in fact, a side dish, but you could toss it with pasta, stir it into risotto or, with the addition of more chicken or vegetable stock, make it into a soup. That’s what I did tonight, adding 4 cups of stock in instead of just 1/2 cup. This will be lunch for the week and should be a good, healthy foil to the boxes of Turtles and such that will likely start turning up at work any day now.

This recipe serves six and comes from Amelia Saltsman’s The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook. Saltsman notes in her intro that the quick boiling of the cabbage before sauteeing takes care of its hidden sharpness and brings out the sweetness.

Melted Cabbage and Green Garlic

1 large head green cabbage (2 to 3 pounds), cored and cut into narrow wedges
3 or 4 bunches green garlic (1 to 1-1/3 pounds) or 3 large leeks, white part only, and 4 cloves garlic
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock, or as needed (4 cups if making soup)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the cabbage, and boil for 3 minutes. Drain well, chop finely and set aside. Trim the root end and tops off the garlic so that you have the white part and about 4 inches of the green. Chop the garlic. If using leeks and garlic cloves, chop the leeks and mince the garlic. You should have about 3 cups.

In a deep, wide pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion, green garlic (or leeks and garlic) and a little salt and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cabbage and 1 tsp salt and cook, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook slowly until the vegetables are reduced and very creamy, about 1 hour. Stir occasionally and add the stock after 30 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid the next time you check the pan, leave the lid off for awhile. If the mixture is dry or sticking, add a bit more stock or water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This dish can be made a day ahead and reheated over low heat.

melted cabbage

– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.

baked risotto

Risotto is the ultimate comfort food. And it has endless possibilities. But I hardly ever make it because the 30 minutes of standing and stirring is too daunting for most weeknights.

A recipe for leek and squash risotto in the December issue of Bon Appetit inspired me recently, though, and seemed like a good way to use up both leeks and a butternut squash. It was my intention to follow it exactly, until I had finished chopping veg, had a cranky, tired baby on my hands that needed to be snuggled, and it was already 7:00. I wanted to be able to pop something in the oven and come back to it being finished a half-hour later. So I googled “baked squash risotto” and found this recipe here.

I used leeks in place of shallots and, since I didn’t have any kale, I chopped up a couple of wilting broccoli crowns and tossed those in. It made an absurd amount but leftover risotto is never a problem — mixed with some eggs, parmesan and dry bread crumbs, they make nice little risotto cakes (cook ’em just like pancakes in a bit of olive oil). Good toddler food.

baked risotto

– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.

sweet potatoes

Much of what’s in my local bag lately is amalgamating amongst the staples already existing in the kitchen — leeks, carrots, peppers and onions for soups and stews; apples for lunches and snacks; beets, potatoes and sweet potatoes into the pantry for using here and there. The daikon is a fun challenge — look for a recipe here in a day or two using that as it’s on the menu for us tomorrow night.

The sweet potatoes are definitely accumulating, so I’m putting a bit of an effort into incorporating them into at least a couple of meals this week.

Dinner tonight was especially tasty and also made good use of a leek. It’s an easy and comforting weeknight supper. If you don’t eat meat, you could omit the chicken (and use vegetable stock instead), maybe adding some beans or chickpeas for a tasty stew.

Here’s the recipe (from an old issue of Food & Drink):

Chicken on a Bed of Sauteed Leeks and Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tsp paprika
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 leeks, white and light green part only, sliced
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Combine 1 tbsp olive oil, thyme, mustard, lemon rind and paprika. Reserve 1 tbsp of mixture and brush the rest over the chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breasts and cook 2 minutes per side or until browned. Remove from skillet and toss in sweet potatoes. Saute for 1 minute, add leeks and saute for 2 minutes. Add stock, reserved mustard mixture and balsamic vinegar and bring to boil. Reduce heat, return chicken breasts and place over vegetables. Cover skillet.

4. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Slice chicken breasts and sere over vegetables. Drizzle over pan liquid.


– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.

white bean, kale and sweet potato soup

I am a big eater of soup in cold weather. I make a pot, freeze it in individual sized containers, and I have instant lunches for work. Filling, warming, healthy. Really, the perfect food.

Tonight I made a big pot of soup with no real clue as to when it will get eaten, but it will. I might freeze this one in one or two larger containers — with some crusty bread, it would be a perfect dinner on some night when life is crazy.

I used Loft’s sweet potatoes, onion, kale and a leek for this recipe. Here it is:

White Bean, Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

1/2 cup dried cannellini beans

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 small onion, cut into quarters

1 head garlic


1/2 cup tubetti, (small tube-shaped pasta – I omitted the pasta, myself)

1 tablespoons olive oil

2 small leeks, rinsed, white and light-green parts cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced (I used one big one)

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used three small, skinny ones)

1 bunch kale, (3/4 pound or however much you’ve got)

6 cups chicken or veg stock

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place beans in a large bowl, and cover with water. Let soak overnight, and drain.

2. Place beans, 1 sprig rosemary, onion, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until beans are just tender, about 25 minutes. Drain beans in a colander. Discard onion and rosemary; set beans aside.

3. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil. Cook until soft, about 40 minutes. Remove garlic from oven, and allow to cool. Slice garlic in half crosswise, and squeeze, removing cloves; set cloves aside.

4. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add tubetti, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander, drain, and set aside.

5. Place a 6-quart low-sided saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil; heat until oil is hot but not smoking. Add leeks, remaining sprig rosemary, and roasted garlic cloves. Cook until leeks become translucent. Add sweet potato; cook, stirring until the potato pieces just begin to soften, about 8 minutes.

6. Add kale; cook until kale begins to wilt, about 4 minutes. Add stock; cook until potato pieces are tender, about 10 minutes. Add reserved beans, pasta, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

kale soup

– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.


I bow down to the inventor of the slow cooker. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen on various projects yesterday afternoon, including some slow cooker prep for tonight’s supper. But I came home at 4:30 today and dinner was on its way to being ready. Makes for a ridiculously less harried evening when dinner is already done. And the clean up is negligible, too. All I had to do was slice up a Golden Hearth whole wheat loaf (best bakery in town, I say) and butter it. Done.

Lots of good bag items ended up in this soup — several carrots, the leek and all the spinach — so it’s super healthy, but filling and hearty, too. And there is a load of room to play and make substitutions. You really can’t mess it up.

And I do believe if I whiz some of this up in my Magic Bullet, I may have a nice bowl of healthy mush that, if I am lucky, my little one will eat for dinner tomorrow.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (from Canadian Living)

6 slices bacon or pancetta, chopped (omit to keep it vegetarian)
2 onions, chopped (I used the whole leek instead, green and white parts only)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped (didn’t have any, so skipped it)
2 carrots, sliced
1 tsp dried basil (if you have an herb garden, use fresh and add it at the end)
1 tsp oregano (ditto)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I soak my own and freeze them in can-sized portions — for a how-to, click here)
4 cups (1 L) sodium-reduced chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian soup)
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes (I had some romas that needed using up so I skinned them and added them whole)
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup (175 mL) tubetti or other small pasta (I used orzo)
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh parsley (forgot to add this, darn)
1/4 cup (50 mL) tomato paste (oops, forgot this too)
1/3 cup (75 mL) grated Parmesan cheese (I added a parmesan rind from the freezer instead — this is a great trick for adding flavour to soups. Omit the parm for a vegan soup)

In skillet, fry bacon over medium-high heat until crisp; transfer to slow cooker. Drain fat from skillet. Fry onions, garlic, celery, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape into slow cooker.

Mash 1 cup (250 mL) of the beans; add to slow cooker along with remaining beans. Add stock, tomatoes and bay leaf; cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until vegetables are tender.

crock pot

In pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until tender but firm, about 8 minutes. Drain and add to slow cooker. Add parsley and tomato paste. (Here’s where I also added the whole bunch of spinach, stemmed).

Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes or until hot. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese.

soup bowl

– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.