Monday, January 18, 2010

Hot Winter Soup

It's cold and it's dark. You long for spring and sun. Forget all about calories and make a hot cabbage soup for you and your family. White cabbage soup or curly kale soup cooked on striped pork , neck or back bone and Cumberland sausage, and cooked with various vegetables, spice herbs and spices. The meat served beside the soup with mustard and whole grain bread. These were two of my favourite winter soups. We had hot soups each Friday during the winter season in my childhood home. A good hot cabbage soup is some of the best you can treat yourself and your family with during these dark and cold winter days. There's a lot of power in a soup like that.

Cabbage is one of the healthiest crops, furthermore is it cheap and easy to cultivate in the garden. In parts of Europe has cabbage been cultivated for more than 4.000 years. It was in Antiquity and during the Middle Ages considered both healthy food and a medicine-plant.
In Denmark curly kale is one of our oldest garden plants. The western world's modern cabbage types come from the wild garden cabbage, which is very strong, bitter and mustard-like. Garden cabbage are found growing wild along the coasts of most southern and western Europe. Cabbage belongs to the crucifers, and those we cultivate today are all closely related and easy to cross. The curly kale is the cabbage-plant, which reminds most about the original form. The oriental cabbages have become known together with the knowledge of the oriental kitchen, i.e. pak choi, tatsoi and mibuna.

Wild cabbage along the coast.

In short: White cabbage is a classic, which has been used in Denmark since the 1500s. Broccoli was known for centuries in Southern Europe and was especially cultivated in Italy. In USA they began eating broccoli in the 1920s, but in the last 25 years the consumption has increased with 940 %. Curly cabbage (grønkål) is a Nordic cabbage-sort, which was known and eaten since ancient times. It tastes best when it has got some frost. Brussel sprouts probably origins from Belgium and is one of the youngest cabbage sorts. It became well-known in the 1800s, especially in England, where it is still very popular. It also needs frost before use. Savoy-cabbage came probably as an independent cabbage-sort in the Middle Ages in Savoy in the southeastern France. It reminds about white cabbage. Decoration cabbage is an old cabbage-sort, which was brought to Japan about 200 years ago. The Japanese processed it, so there are many exciting and colourful types today. In the 1800s and 1900s it was popular in flower beds in autumn. Decoration-cabbage is used mostly for decoration in Denmark, but like other cabbage types it is eatable. Red cabbage was first known in the 1900s and is today a "must" on the Christmas table. It is a variant of the white cabbage, but with a milder taste.

When you make brussel sprouts you can add lemon juice when you cook it, it gives a milder taste which makes even the children like it.

Brussel sprouts are good together with some salty food, i.e. crispy fried bacon.

Savoy-cabbage is perfect as the green part of light creamy pasta sauces.

Red cabbage and walnuts taste well together. i.e. a red salat á la Waldorf.

Cut fresh green cabbage and fry it in the wok together with other vegetables i.e. leeks and red pepper and chili, ginger, garlic and soya.

Quick knowledge:
1) Cabbage contains plentiful mineral salts and sulphur and all important vitamins, especially C-vitamin.

2) 1/3 broccoli-stalk contains more C-vitamin than one and a quarter kilo oranges or 204 apples.

3) Cabbage contains several secondary plant substances which have medicinal qualities.

4) American scientists have found a substance in broccoli which supposedly can prevent cancer.

The typical cabbage-taste is caused by the contenct of sulphurous connections like mustard-oil and sulphide. The cultivation-conditions and the cabbage sorts decide the amount of the various substances in the cabbage - and therefore the differences in taste can differ much inside the same cabbage-types. Fertilizer and fresh animal-manure can give brussel sprouts and white cabbage a more stinking smell and bad after-taste when cooking.

bon appétit!

photo Djursland: grethe bachmann

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