Thursday, January 7, 2010

Somebody Loves a Cabbage

Among my unprized and almost forgotten but dearly adored possessions is a rather rare copy of an original manuscript--a libretto, actually--for the remarkable though almost completely unknown (and never performed) operetta entitled "Nobody Loves a Cabbage". This gem, complete with hand-colored illustrations, is a first edition, published on a dot-matrix printer and bound by a pressboard cover, and is, in all probability, now one of only two or three in existence. It's truly a rarity of the finest sort.

It's been quite a long time since I've laid eyes on it, but as I recall, the refrain of the title song goes a little something like this:

Nobody (--Nobody!),
Nobody (--Nobody!),
Nobody loves a caa-ba-a-age...

Nobody (--Nobody!),
Nobody (--Nobody!),
Nobody loves a caa-ba-a-age...

Sheer genius.

In homage to this great work, and in an effort both to revive my lagging recipe project and to nourish your wintery souls, I offer up this simple and satisfying soup.

1 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped, or more
3 tbsp sesame seeds
7 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/2 large head)
2 tomatoes, chopped (or one 14 oz. can diced tomatoes)
2 slices whole wheat or rye bread, diced, or more (or other dark bread)
6 cups vegetable stock (good bouillon will work just fine)
Salt, to taste
3 tbsp Tamari, Shoyu or (if you must) plain old soy sauce, or to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)

Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed stockpot and saute the onion until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the sesame seeds and cabbage and continue to cook, stirring, over low heat, for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage has cooked down. Stir in the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

This one comes from The Vegetarian Feast and is reprinted without permission, which I will deal with when the copyright police find me. Although the caraway is regarded by the author as optional, I think the soup would lack something significant without it. A nice rye or pumpernickel (or French Meadow Hemp, as I found out) is probably the way to go with the bread. Watch the salt--it might be a good idea to use unsalted vegetable stock and/or tomatoes, because the soy sauce will add a lot of saltiness, but is key to the richness of the broth, so don't skimp there. Quite tasty with ham and Swiss.

(With thanks to Mom, both for the cookbook--which I am glad to give another look, after all these years--and for introducing its contents, so deliciously. Gratitude, also, to the authors of the aforementioned work of art. You know who you are.)

1 comment:

fremenine said...

A footnote on the soy sauce:

Shoyu, in fact, means "soy sauce", and Tamari is a particular type of Japanese shoyu. I favor San-J's organic versions, although I've got nothing against "plain old" Kikkoman or the like... just look for one that's actually fermented, without artificial flavorings or colorants.