Cream of Cabbage Soup

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. Proverbs 24:26  NIV

During the crazy weather period we just had I suddenly had a hankering for soup!  I especially wanted either cream of cabbage or my version of minestrone, so, I decided to make both.  The very best thing (well, maybe not the very best, but close) about soup is that you can make a whole lot of it and freeze it! Plus, it’s easy to make and fun to eat!  It’s especially good with homemade popovers (yummy).  And of course, you can pretty much change anything you want and it will still taste scrumptious! 

Here’s part of what you need…

plus some veggies….

and of course, you can’t have cabbage soup without *cabbage*…

 

Finally, some flour (I need a smaller canister, this one doesn’t fit in my pictures very easily).

Dump all the veggies in a big dutch oven or stock pot,  along with some chicken stock, and your seasonings.  Now, I just want to make a note here that I was in massive hurry to get this done so I could eat it.  A better way to do this is to saute the carrots, onions, celery and ham in a little butter first – adds more flavor and kind caramelizes the ham. 

But you can do this quick method, too, with wonderful results. Bring it to a boil and then turn down heat to simmmer for a while, until the cabbage really cooks down, 25 to 30 minutes.  You will do this step without the other veggies if you decide to saute the other veggies.

While the veggies are simmering, start making the cream base.  Melt some butter and add some flour to it.  Let it get a little brown.

Add milk and cream and cook and stir over medium heat until it thickens.

That’s the ticket!

See how nicely the cabbage cooked down?  Now add in the ham and keep simmering it until it heats up. *If you chose to saute the ham and other veggies, you’d add the other veggies in now too*

Pour in the cream mixture (Mmmmmm), and simmer for another 20 minutes or so.

And isn’t it pretty! Okay, I have to admit, I didn’t eat it right away.  Instead, I made popovers to go with it. I’ll do that one next, okay?

Cream of Cabbage Soup:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 3 cups diced cooked ham
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups of cream (you could also use 1/2 and 1/2)
  •  

    Directions:

  1. Combine the chicken stock and vegetables in a large dutch oven or stockpot.
  2. Add spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook until the cabbage reduces by about half (25 to 30 minutes).
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, make the cream sauce. In a saucepan, combine the butter and flour.  Cook over medium heat until the flour browns a bit.
  4. Add the milk and cream, and cook and stir until thick, 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add the ham to the cooked cabbage mixture and continue to simmer until it’s warmed through.
  6. Add the cream sauce to the cabbage mixture, and simmer, covered, another 20 minutes or so.
  7. This gets better with age, so consider making it the day before.
  8. 


Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over  here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” … Ruth 2:14

The last two days have been HOT (hurray!!).  Love having the windows open in the car feeling the warm breeze (huh, now that I think about it, some of that “warm breeze” could be me yakking to Jim as we drive around). “Riding along in my automobile, my baby beside me at the wheel…” Hee Hee, I love Chuck Berry. And CCR. And Led Zeppelin. And Aerosmith. Most of all I love Mr. Jimmy Buffet. Oh my goodness steel drums make me want islands and big red drinks… Oops, off track again, sorry. 

Anyway, as soon as the weather gets hot I start really craving fresh veggies, fresh fruit, fresh herbs – you get the idea!  Friday I went out with two of my dearest friends for our thrice yearly birthday celebration (Happy Birthday Lynnae!). We went to a local Italian restaurant called Nona Rosa, and they had a really great take on a traditional caprese salad. It was so yummy I had to try to make it home.

Basically a caprese salad is slices of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and  fresh sliced tomatoes (see the fresh theme here?) with a drizzle of olive oil and maybe some salt and pepper. The salad we had yesterday included a couple of other ingredients, one of which was a balsamic vinegar reduction, and the other was prosciutto. 

Let’s talk about a balsamic reduction. The older balsamic vinegar is, the more expensive it is. And the older it is, the thicker and sweeter it gets, but an aged bottle of balsamic vinegar can be very costly.  You can create almost the same effect for a lot less money by making a balsamic reduction.  I bought a whole liter at Trader Joe’s for under $4 – just make sure to get some that doesn’t have caramel flavoring. There are a couple different ways to do a balsamic reduction. 

One way is to put the vinegar in a non-reactive pot (such as stainless steel or glass – use a non-reactive pot regardless of the method you choose). While continually whisking or stirring bring the vinegar to a gentle boil. Keep boiling and stirring until the vinegar reduces by about half.  This is a relatively quick method, but I’m not super fond of it because there’s a possibility of burning the vinegar (insert Mr. Yuck sticker here).

 

A second method takes longer, but the upside is you don’t have to stir it. You just heat it to a simmer over medium heat, and then turn it to low heat until i and let the heat slowly reduce the vinegar to about half.  Depending upon how much vinegar you are doing at once, this could take a couple of hours.

You’ll end up with half of what you started with, and it will have the consistency of maple syrup.  It will also have a wonderful sweetness. It is SOOOO good. Also, it will get a little thicker as it cools. I will warn you, it’s smells kind of vinegary in the house (of course, I like that smell so no biggie). Also, you can add things like garlic or herbs if you like (some folks even sweeten it up a bit with a little sugar).  Personally, I like it plain because then you can use it on veggies, fruit, meat, whatever. It has a wonderful sweet/tart/salty flavor.

And that, my friends, is the most difficult part of this recipe. Next thing, go ahead and wash your basil and your tomatoes and dry them off.

Slice your mozzarella and your tomato slices about 1/4″ thick (or thicker if you like, it’s your salad!).

Stack it up – start with the mozzarella….

Then the basil (I tore my leaves in half because they were quite robust)…

A bright and lovely tomato slice…

A drizzle of olive oil…

a bit of prosciutto and a drip or seven of your balsamic reduction.

This is heavenly.  Oh, and one other thing – you may want to get a squirt bottle to keep it in because then you can get all fancy and make dots around the edge of the plate, or other beautiful plating options. Obviously I just dumped it on, but I am here to tell you, it didn’t affect the taste one iota.

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients:

  • Fresh mozzarella (I like the kind made with whole milk of course)
  • Fresh Basil
  • Fresh tomatoes (romas or compari, or whatever you have on hand)
  • Good quality prosciutto
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar (get one without artificial flavor – Trader Joe’s has several nice ones)

Directions for Balsamic Reduction:

  1. Pour balsamic vinegar into a non-reactive saucepan.
  2. Either bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly, and continue boiling and stirring until the vinegar reduces by half (quicker method, more likely to burn); or
  3. Heat to a simmer on medium low, turn the heat down to low, and leave it alone until it reduces by half (slower method, less likely to burn)
  4. As it cools it will become thicker.  It should have the consistency of maple syrup.
  5. If you reduce an entire bottle of balsamic vinegar, you can store it in the original bottle; or use a squirt bottle. Please store this in the refrigerator, and it will keep for months.

Directions for Assembling Salad:

  1. Slice tomatoes and mozzarella about 1/4″ thick
  2. On top of a piece of mozzarella, stack a piece of basil and a tomato slice.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Place a small piece of prosciutto on top of the tomato.
  5. Drizzle some of the balsamic vinegar reduction around the base of the mozzarella/tomato stack.


Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalms 34:14

We ended up having a beautiful Memorial Day here, the weather turned from rainy to nice. I’m so grateful for all the men and women who devote their lives to keeping our country safe. My husband Jim served in the navy during the Vietnam War, my father served in the army during the Korean War, and my brother Dan has been serving in Iraq.

When Jim’s Dad died, all the letters Jim had written (while he was in the navy) to his father were given back to Jim.  I spent an afternoon reading them.  They were just wonderful and gave me great insight into the man Jim had become (he was only 17 when he went into the Navy, and I didn’t meet him until he was in his late 40s). That was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.

At our house we have a tradition of Sunday afternoons get togethers we call “Dinner and Dominoes”.  It’s just Jim, my Uncle Dave and me. This week we got together today since it was Memorial Day.  I often use Jim and Uncle Dave as guinea pigs to try out new recipes. But today, we had a simple dinner of hot dogs (the really good kind that are all linked together), broccoli cauliflower salad, chips and dip, and baked beans. Of course, I place beans in the same category as raisins (except I probably wouldn’t eat baked beans under any circumstances!).  And truthfully, I’m not a big broccoli fan, either, but I like it in this salad. So I actually only had to make one thing today, and that was the salad. Unfortunately the dominoes game didn’t turn out as well. Uncle Dave was the big weiner (I mean winner) today. Oh well, I’ll have my chance at revenge very soon!

This recipe was given to me back in the 80s by a wonderful lady named Jeannie Malecha (an absolutely outstanding cook).  Haven’t seen her in years, but I use this recipe all the time.  It’s very tasty and fresh, perfect for a hot spring day. The recipe as originally written called for 2/3 cups of white vinegar, but I like substituting tarragon vinegar for half.  You may want to experiment with other vinegar flavors, and other combinations of veggies. Enjoy!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make the salad. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into bite size pieces. Onions should be chopped, and I cut the tomatoes in half (you could leave them whole if you like).

Mix all the veggies together in a large bowl.

Mix the remaining ingredients (mayo, vinegars, oil, salt and sugar), together in a small bowl.

Whisk together thoroughly. Take a taste – it’s wonderful.  I bet you could think of lots of other things to use it on!

Pour the dressing over the veggies and mix well. At this point you can serve it right away (we usually do) or you can refrigerate it for a few hours.

Here’s the finished product.  It’s so pretty and refreshing, a perfect salad for a warm spring or summer day.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped into bite sized piece
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in halves (optional)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip or salad dressing)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup tarragon vinegar
  • 2/3 cup oil

Directions:

  1. Mix cauliflower, broccoli, onion and tomatoes together.
  2. Mix together mayonnaise, salt, sugar, vinegars and oil. Pour over vegetable mixture and stir to coat.  Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving (you can serve it immediately, but the flavors meld a bit if you wait).