I have fond memories of my Baba (grandmother in Ukrainian) preparing many different meals featuring cabbage. One that stands out in my memory – aside from all the borsht she would make me eat – is boiled meat with boiled cabbage. Cabbage is a staple ingredient in Ukrainian food beyond its use in cabbage rolls.
It is a common food found in many diets around the world – from German sauerkraut to Korean kimchi, to Dutch coleslaw, to boiled cabbage with bacon in Ireland. In all its forms, it is cheap, delicious comfort food.
It is easy to grow and will keep well in your fridge or root cellar. If you don’t grow it, it is typically inexpensive and common in markets and grocery stores. One large head can go a long way in feeding a family. If you end up with too much of it and lack storage space, it is easily made into a ferment with little effort.
Cabbages are in the mustard family and offer a variety of strong, distinct flavours. Care should be taken when cooking with them, as they can easily overtake subtle flavours, especially when making a soup.
There are many different varieties cultivated around the world, offering a range of colours and flavours. When cooking with red cabbage, be mindful that it will change the colour of everything you cook with it. If you want to maintain the red colour, add vinegar in the cooking process, otherwise it will turn a shade of blue.
Simple Cabbage Soup
- Salt Pork
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Slice onions thinly and cut pork into small pieces.
- Start by cooking the salt pork in a small amount of oil on medium heat to render the fat.
- Add onions and continue cooking until tender.
- Cut cabbage in a large dice, not bigger than the spoon you’ll be eating it with.
- Add cabbage to the pot, fill with water to just cover cabbage.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cabbage is tender.
- Season with salt and a splash of vinegar. Enjoy!
Adding vinegar at the end of cooking helps balance out the richness of the soup and gives it some life.
This simple cabbage soup can serve as a base for many variations. Try using a tougher cut of meat like a pork hock and simmer until tender, then add the cabbage. Instead of adding vinegar, try using tomatoes to add the needed acidity to balance the soup.