Monday, February 8, 2010

italian bread and cabbage soup

We're finally here. Are you ready?

I bet you are.

Cabbage week
is starting off with a bang over here. My house smells...fabulous.
I am not getting rickets anytime soon.

My mother came over for lunch today. She's not a cabbage fan, but she knows it is cabbage week, so I was pretty sure she would understand. I made this cabbage and bread soup, layered with butter and topped with cheese. It was salty and lovely with a little bit of crunch to the cabbage. The cold wind hit the windows while we ate, and I felt warmer and warmer with every bite.

My mom wanted you to know that she had seconds.

I had seconds too.

This recipe belongs to the long list of wonderful things to make when you are lucky enough to have stale bread in your possession. Some people don't know what they've got when they have a good hard loaf of bread on their counter. You're not going to believe this but some people actually (are you sitting down here?) throw it away! I know! Think how much perfectly stale bread goes in the compost, or even more horribly, the garbage! Oy. Just think of all that panzanella, all that bread pudding. So many heavenly garlic croutons? Today that bread is going straight into the pot. And while the cold wind whips outside, you will be warm, warm, warm.

Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup
adapted from Moosewood New Classics

serves 2-3, but will double perfectly

3 cups cubed bread (any kind will do but a sourdough or a hearty rye will be especially nice)
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage (red or green or a mixture)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup grated havarti dill cheese (or fontina or gruyere if that is what you have)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a medium pot of salted water on to boil. While the oven is preheating, lay the cubed bread on a baking sheet and throw it in the oven for a few minutes so it can get a little harder. Take the bread out of the oven, and spread the cubes evenly in an ovenproof casserole dish. Melt two of the tablespoons of butter and drizzle it over the bread cubes.
When the water boils, blanch the cabbage until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Drain well, and spread the cabbage over the bread. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir in the nutmeg, pepper and salt. Pour the seasoned butter over the cabbage and bread. Pour the stock over everything and evenly spread the cheese on top.

Bake uncovered until the cheese starts to brown, 25 or 30 minutes, Serve immediately.


  1. Thanks for the recipe, Alana. I currently have a head and a half of savoy cabbage waiting to be cooked. I used half a head to make cabbage soup last week - chopped it small, cooked it in a light vegetable broth base, then added pressure-cooked white beans and barley. That went fast. (I guess you don't have any leftovers either.) Can't wait for my bread to stale so I can cook this recipe. Happy eating.

  2. Totally excited about cabbage week. It turns out that's all there is at the farmers' market in February. Cabbage! Makes me miss the old country.

  3. I want to make this!

  4. This sounds (and looks) wonderful!! Just the ticket for a cold, February evening. My boys thought they weren't fond of cabbage either until we found a delicious salad recipe. Now they eat it all the time and refer tot he salad recipe as "the cabbage salad that you should make if you don't like cabbage...or even salad."

  5. Recipe please, Heather! The label "the cabbage salad that you should make if you don't like cabbage...or even salad" has drawn me in. I like both cabbage and salad, but it sounds like a winner nevertheless.

  6. Alana, I made Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup tonight and it was delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe. The only change I would make is to cut the salt in half, but I'm sensitive to salt. I have another head of cabbage, so I can't wait to make another recipe. I'm thinking about making sauerkraut...I love the fresh, homemade stuff. Any pointers?

  7. I'm so glad you liked it! I love that one too. I've got more cabbage coming up this week, of course, but yes, try sauerkraut. I made it for the first time this summer- you can find the post in the recipes list, and it was not a great success. I think I just tried to make too big of a batch. I suggest you go to for help- Sandor Katz is a really great resource. Let me know how it turns out!