Finally, it's the highly anticipated cabbage soup. Do you think you know it from the recent fad diet that has been making the rounds? Don't make me laugh - this is the real thing. This does double duty and can be served as an entree or a soup.
The Recipe: Place 2lbs of beef chuck with the bone in a very large stock pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and skim the surface to remove froth. Add one head of green cabbage cut into 8 wedges, three whole medium onions, peeled, six carrots and seven stalks of celery, both cut into 1" lengths. Add water to within two inches of the top of the pot and season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons of oregano, salt and fresh ground pepper. Tie 2 bay leaves and some celery tops with leaves into a bundle with white string and add this to the soup.
Now comes the secret ingredient which makes this soup a delightful taste experience: 2 cups of ketchup. Yes, ketchup! The most under-rated and unappreciated condiment of them all. Read the label. It is a well-thought out blend of tomatos, spices and vinegar - that is what makes it so good. No substitutions - no tomato sauce, no canned or fresh tomatoes, no tomato paste - it must be catsup.
Simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Add water if needed to maintain the level of the broth and adjust seasonings. When ready to serve, remove the bone and the bay leaf packet and ladel some broth into a bowl. Add the thinnest egg noodles (cooked) that you can find. When the soup course is finished, plate some of the meat onto a deep dinnerplate and add just enough broth to moisten. Taking care not to disturb the shape of the cabbage wedges or the whole onions, carefully place one of each, along with a pile of carrots and celery onto the dish.
Never under any circumstances succumb to the temptation of adding Lipton's Onion Soup Mix to the sacred broth. That is an abomination and unacceptable. And that is not just my opinion - that it just the way it is.
The Review: Our panel of judges went to the test kitchens and gave this report:
The Mister: "What is that smell? Oh, no! Not cabbage!" ( The Mister lived in a boarding house in Gemany for a year and claims he was fed pork and cabbage three times a day the whole time. He has an unwavering No Pork No Cabbage policy.) He declined to participate.
The College Man : he loves this soup and will eat it to the point of bursting.
The Teen Queen: ate only plain egg noodles - no soup.
The Cook: This is non-labor intensive and I get a feeling of connectedness to all of my Slavic ancestors when I make this soup. It is the first thing I do when the weather turns crisp. There is the added bonus of the sweet perfume of cooked cabbage throughout the whole house.
Note: It is quite permisssable to make a meatless version of this soup if you add beef bouillion. I will also allow you to cut the vegetables into smaller pieces and serve everything in the same bowl at once. All other rules still apply.