About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

If I told you that I got an eight year old to eat cabbage and silver beet (Swiss chard) at the same time and admit they actually enjoyed it, would you believe me?

I wouldn't have...until I watched my daughter sit down and demolish a whole bowl of this vegetable goodness. Proving it was no fluke, she ate a second bowl a night later. Which, incidentally, is when this soup is supposed to be at its peak.

It all started at a farmer's market when my wife bought a good looking bunch of black cabbage (cavolo nero), which promptly went into the fridge. By the second day it was starting to wilt a little, so I cast around for a recipe and stumbled upon Antonio Carlucciio's version of ribollita, re-boiled cabbage soup, so named because it tastes best reheated the day after it's made.

It also tastes pretty darn good the day it's made too!

Chock full of vegetables, which seemingly merge in a way so that no one distinctive flavour stands out. With a slice of toasted bread, this soup becomes a meal in itself. Even for cabbage hating eight year olds.

(adapted from Antonio Carluccio's Vegetables)

1 bunch black cabbage (cavolo nero)
2 400g tins cannellini beans
2 small or 1 large leek, washed and sliced into thin discs
2-3 medium carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
olive oil as required
2 large white potatoes, diced
2 zucchini, diced
400g tomatoes, pulped
1/2 bunch silver beet (Swiss chard), green part only, sliced
few stalks fresh thyme
slices of stale bread, toasted

Remove the tough white stalk from the black cabbage.

In a large pot, place the leek, carrot and celery with 50ml of olive oil and gently sweat for 10 minutes, do not colour. Add the potato, zucchini, black cabbage tomato pulp and enough water to cover and gently simmer for one hour. Add the silver beet and thyme, simmer for another 20 minutes Puree one tin of beans in a blender with some of the soup water, add to the soup along with the other tin of beans and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes.

Add some salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Place a slice of toasted bread in a soup bowl and ladle the soup on top. Drizzle on some olive oil and if liked, a few more grindings of black pepper.

*in Carluccio's version, he makes no mention of water
  posted at 8:34 am

At 1:10 pm, Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

It sounds good to me, but I can see how this could be a tough sell for a kid, making it impressive that it was a hit.

At 2:33 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Carluccio, always leaving out ingredients!

At 3:48 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi kalyn, we just never mentioned the cabbage...or the silver beet...or the zucchini, however, she did spot the carrot, which she doesn't usually like, but condescended to eat this time. The soup has a very mellow flavour.

Hi kitchen hand, he's used plenty in his time, so I guess we can forgive him this time! I did fret that perhaps it wasn't meant to have water, up until the moment it was added, then it turned from a stew to a soup.

At 7:21 am, Blogger Gigi said...

I have to admit that I had to look up Black Cabbage, assuming it was one of those exotic things that I wouldn't have access to :D Of course I do! And I love it. This sounds absolutely wonderful ~ and oh so healthful as well. That you could slip it happily by an 8 year old is just icing on the kale. :)

At 12:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This must be some awesome ribollita if your eight-year-old ate it two nights in a row! It's one of my favorite soups now, but I'm sure that as a kid I wouldn't have gotten anywhere near it.

At 10:23 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi gigi, 'icing on the kale', love that!

Hi lydia, I'm sure the long cook mellows out the flavours to an eight-year-old level. When I was young, cabbage was on my list of things not to eat, but in those days, overcooked food was rife.

Hi ken, thanks for your kind words.

At 10:53 am, Blogger Intrepid in the Kitchen- JdG: said...

OK- so it's NOT just for kids- I tried it last night and Neil, it's bloody tasty! Thank you. I had to make a few tweaks myself due to a unusually bare pantry (think pumpkin instead of potato), but it worked a treat and is certainly delicious!
Yum- round two tonight.

At 12:00 am, Anonymous Elliot said...

Hi Neil
You might be surprised to know that cavelo nero grows really well in Melbourne. It is a prodigious producer of large leaves. unfortunately I cant remember where we bought it!

At 7:30 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi intrepid, isn't that the beauty of cooking, we can make any recipe our own, depending on what's to hand. I can imagine pumpkin would be a great choice.

Hi elliot, we bought ours at a farmer's market. Just the other day I was driving through Clyde, where there are a lot of market gardens and there was a whole field of cavalo nero, made me want to stop the car...

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