Marcella Hazan’s Rice & Smothered Cabbage Soup

The use of Arborio rice in this hearty soup makes it almost a soupy risotto. My husband was skeptical about eating it after hearing the name of the dish, but he absolutely loved it! I knew it would be delicious coming from such a classic book.

This “community pick” recipe was adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, via Food 52’s Genius Recipes. I used green cabbage, leeks, and red wine vinegar to make the smothered cabbage. I omitted the butter and added fresh lemon juice and Parmesan rind to the soup. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 people

For the Smothered Cabbage, Venetian Style:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds green, red, or Savoy cabbage (1 head)
  • 1 1/2 large leeks, halved and thinly sliced or 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T wine vinegar, white or red

For the Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup:

  • smothered cabbage, from above
  • cups homemade meat broth or stock (we used beef here, but chicken/turkey is also good)(Vegetable stock can be substituted for a vegetarian version)
  • 2/3 cup rice, preferably Italian Arborio rice
  • Parmesan rind, optional
  • T butter, optional (I omitted it)
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Smothered Cabbage:

  1. Detach and discard the first few outer leaves of the cabbage.
  2. The remaining head of leaves must be shredded very fine. If you are going to do it by hand, cut the leaves into fine shreds, slicing them off the whole head. Turn the head after you have sliced a section of it until gradually you expose the entire core, which must be discarded. If you want to use the food processor, cut the leaves off from the core in sections, discard the core and process the leaves through a shredding attachment.
  3. Put the leeks or onion and olive oil into a large sauté pan, and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it becomes colored a deep gold, then add the garlic.
  4. When you have cooked the garlic until it becomes colored a very pale gold, add the shredded cabbage. Turn the cabbage over 2 or 3 times to coat it well, and cook it until it is wilted.
  5. Add salt, pepper, and the vinegar.
  6. Turn the cabbage over once completely, lower the heat to minimum, and cover the pan tightly.
  7. Cook for at least 1 1/2 hours, or until it is very tender, turning it from time to time. If while it is cooking, the liquid in the pan should become insufficient, add 2 tablespoons water as needed.
  8. When done, taste and correct for salt and pepper. Allow it to settle a few minutes off heat before serving.

Note: The smothered cabbage can be prepared 2 or 3 days ahead of the soup, or served as a side dish from here. It also freezes well.

To Make the Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup:

  1. Put the cabbage and broth into a soup pot, I used a 4-quart enameled cast iron pot, and turn on the heat to medium.
  2. When the broth comes to a boil, add the rice and Parmesan rind.
  3. Cook uncovered, adjusting the heat so that the soup bubbles at a slow, but steady boil, stirring from time to time until the rice is done. It must be tender, but firm to the bite, and should take around 20 minutes. If while the rice is cooking, you find the soup becoming too thick, add a ladelful of homemade broth. If you are not using homemade broth, just add water. Remember that when finished, the soup should be rather dense, but there should still be some liquid.
  4. When the rice is done, before turning off the heat, swirl in the butter, if using, the lemon juice, and the grated Parmesan, stirring thoroughly.
  5. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind.
  6. Taste and correct for salt, and add a few grindings of black pepper.
  7. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, and allow it to settle just a few minutes before serving.
  8. Serve with more grated Parmesan.

About Josette@thebrookcook

I live in Stony Brook, New York on Long Island. I love garlic and baking. My hobby (and love) is to try new recipes. My favorite recipe resources include The New York Times, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and Martha Stewart Living. Enjoy!

2 responses to “Marcella Hazan’s Rice & Smothered Cabbage Soup

  1. skd

    I have never tried this combination of cabbage,cheese and rice. looks interesting Josette. i would love to try it.

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