I’ve been meaning to write about this soup since I made it a few days back when we were having a cold evening. Hard to believe, but we actually do have cold (well, what we call cold) weather here in San Diego. The soup was perfect for our chilly evening. J. dragged our table over in front of the fireplace and we made believe we were somewhere snowy as we dined on this cheesy bowl of comfort food.
Today I was reading Rowena’s blog-Rubber Slippers in Italy– (posted on January 12) when I saw that she had eaten pretty much the same soup on her recent foray into the Valle d’Aosta. I am directing you over to her blog to take a look at the soup she sampled-I neglected to take a photo that evening. I have to admit, ours looked just like the one pictured on her blog. If you’re at all interested in Italy and cooking, you should be reading her blog on a regular basis. Rowena is known to seek out sagras (food festivals) featuring specialties of the various areas near her home and her photos and descriptions will make you want to jump on a plane and join in the fun.
There’s still plenty of cold weather to be had this winter and this is a great recipe to have under your belt. Mine is taken from In Late Winter We Ate Pears. I love this book. It’s not just a “cookbook” but a memoir from a couple who followed their dream- lived, traveled, ate through Italy and upon their return opened an osteria in Woodstock, VT. I wish I lived around the corner from them…
La Zuppa Valdostana
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced small
1 medium-large head Napa or savoy cabbage (I used savoy), slivered-about 4 packed cups
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 quarts chicken stock
4-8 slices crusty country bread (from a 2 day old loaf is ideal)
Fontina or gruyere cheese, grated or thinly sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Heat the butter and oil in a stockpot. Add the diced onions to the pot and stir them well to coat. Cover the pot and let the onions simmer gently, stirring every few minutes until they are just wilted. Add cabbage and stir well. Cover the pot and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally,until the cabbage is well wilted. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper and enough stock to cover everything by about 1″. Return the soup to a gentle simmer, partially cover the pot and cook for 40 minutes longer. Taste and correct the seasoning.
Turn on the broiler. Place 1 or 2 slices bread in oven-proof bowls. Ladle the soup over and place cheese on top. Place the bowls under the broiler for a few minutes to let the cheese form a crust over the top (watch so that it doesn’t burn). Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and serve. Serves: 4