This week's What's Cooking Wednesday isn't a Calabrian recipe, or even an Italian one, but it almost feels Calabrian because of its simplicity. A lot of recipes for this basic soup includes a lot more ingredients (carrots, celery, beets, etc.), but this is the ham and cabbage soup that I grew up on, and it's delicious.
This is my mom's recipe (with my adjustment for olive oil instead of butter), and for those of you still experiencing winter, it's a great cold weather dish. Even P stepped out of his Italian routine to praise this one.
This recipe is easy peasy, so even you novices have no excuse not to try it. You'd have a really hard time screwing it up, I promise. That's the great thing about soups--you can always add something else to fix it and pretend like it was there the whole time on purpose!
Ham and Cabbage Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter if you roll like that)
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
500 g (1 lb) of pancetta or ham, cubed/bite-sized chunks
2 liters of water
1 small head of cabbage, washed and shredded (I just tear with my hands, nothing fancy)
6 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
dash of garlic powder
1 tsp salt (to your taste of course)
Put olive oil or butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and ham and let cook for a few minutes. Add water and then the cabbage and potatoes, sprinkling in salt and some garlic powder (no biggie if you don't have this; I just think it gives everything a kick).
Now let this cook on medium until the potatoes are done, which should be about an hour and a half or thereabouts. Stir every now and again.
Feel free to play with this recipe as there are so many good things you can add. Of course you can make it vegetarian by removing the ham and adding a nice mix of winter veggies. You can also throw in some chunks of tomato for a little bit of color and a more traditional minestrone. The cabbage is the star here, so whatever else you do, you're good to go.
Of course, if you don't like cabbage, well, you might want to look for something else to make.
And, as nearly always, served with some chunky bread.