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.

Creamy Corn Chowder

Wow. This was delicious. A real celebration of summer farmstand corn. My local farmstand happens to have absolutely wonderful bi-color corn which I used for this special chowder.

A fresh corn broth is made for the base of this soup. It incorporates the corn cobs, shiitake mushroom stems, herbs, as well as parmesan rinds. I think it really makes the finished dish extraordinary.

I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit, contributed by Rick Martinez. I lightened the recipe by using half and half instead of heavy cream. I also used home-grown jalapeños instead of Fresno chiles and parsley instead of marjoram. I doubled the garlic too, of course. 😉 Fabulous!!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 8 ears of corn
  • 2 Parmesan rinds (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • coarse salt
  • 5 T unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 4 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces (I used 3 thick slices)
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces (I used 1 1/2 large potatoes)
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 2 Fresno chiles or jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 T chopped marjoram or parsley, plus more for serving
  • oyster crackers, for serving, optional
  1. Cut kernels from cobs and place in a large bowl. Reserve cobs.
  2. Place cobs in a medium pot and add Parmesan rinds, if using, mushroom stems, thyme, bay leaf, 2 tsp. salt, and 8 cups water.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until broth is fragrant and reduced by half, 40–50 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl; discard solids and set broth aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 4 T butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high.
  5. Add corn kernels, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender and juices have evaporated and browned on the bottom of the pot, 12–15 minutes. Reserve ½ cup corn for serving; transfer remaining corn to a medium bowl.
  6. Add wine to pot and cook, scraping up browned bits, until liquid is syrupy, about 2 minutes. Scrape into bowl with remaining corn.
  7. Heat remaining 1 T butter in same pot over medium and cook bacon until golden brown and fat has rendered, about 6 minutes.
  8. Add potatoes, shallots, leek, garlic, and chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened but haven’t taken on any color, 12–15 minutes.
  9. Add chiles and cook until fragrant and softened, about 3 minutes.
  10. Stir in flour and cook until nutty and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  11. Add reserved broth, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork-tender, 10–15 minutes.
  12. Add half and half (or cream) and corn mixture and cook, stirring, until chowder has thickened, 5–10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parley. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.
  13. Divide chowder among bowls. Top with additional parsley, oyster crackers, and reserved ½ cup corn; season with pepper.

Note: To make this vegetarian, omit the bacon and replace with more shiitake mushrooms; sauté them until they’re golden brown.

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Classic Tomato Soup

Everybody needs a “gold standard” tomato soup recipe – especially in the winter. This is my new one! This tasty recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry Cravings: 173 Recipes for the Food You want to Eat Right Now by Lucinda Scala Quinn. A great book.

The soup is creamy but creamless; it is slightly pink from the emulsification of the tomatoes and stock. We ate it with extra-sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches and green salad. Mmmm. Grilled cheese croutons would be wonderful as well. Stay warm! My kids are on snow day #3 today!! 🙂 :/

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving, if desired
  • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 tsp coarse salt
  • 4 28-oz cans whole tomatoes in juice (I used Cento San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • 6 x 1 1/2-inch piece Parmesan rind
  • grated Parmesan, for serving, optional
  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When it shimmers, add the shallots, carrots, and celery, season with the salt, and sauté until soft and golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and Parmesan rind; bring to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes, until the soup has thickened slightly. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind.
  3. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a food processor or blender, and puree. (I used an immersion blender.)
  4. Reheat the soup, if necessary. Add more chicken stock if needed for the desired consistency.
  5. Divide among bowls and garnish each with a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmesan, if desired.

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