Category Archives: Winter Recipes

Tenement Stew (Cabbage Alphabet Noodle Soup)

It’s difficult to photograph cabbage soup to advantage.  You have to imagine the wonderful aroma of cabbage and carrots and rich vegetable stock punctuated with garlic and thyme to be suitably impressed.

 

This is fall and winter food.  You can use items from your freezer and pantry.  I made this soup from only things I already had on hand.  The title of the soup is my nod to the hard life and how humble ingredients such as cabbage and potatoes have kept a lot of poor humans from starving.  There are people who undervalue both the wonderful flavor of cabbage as well as its nutritional contribution to the fall and winter diet.  Common cabbage is a good source of vitamin C, calcium, and Potassium.

When I first made this soup I did a cost analysis on it.  Here were my results:

Can this stew be made more cheaply than going out to eat a fast food meal? It turns out that the reason why poor people eat so much soup is because it’s a cheap and nutritious way to feed your family. I priced out my ingredients (bearing in mind that my stock was free since I made it from my own vegetable scraps, and my thyme was almost free because I grew it and dried it myself) this soup cost .53 per serving.

That’s for a cup and a half of nutritious and very tasty soup. Can you get a nutritious meal at McDonald’s for .53 cents? That’s a trick question. You can’t actually get a nutritious meal there.  Try my tenement stew. It won’t break your pocketbook. It will hardly make a dent in it.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 large carrots, chopped

1 large russet potato, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1.5 pounds of chopped cabbage

2 cups cooked navy beans (or 1 can of rinsed white beans)

3 cloves garlic, minced fine or pressed

1 quart diced tomatoes (with its juice)

1 quart of stock (or water)

1/4 cup alphabet pasta (or orzo, or rice)

1 tbsp dried thyme

2 tsp salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste
a shake of cayenne pepper for heat

Method:

Heat oil in a soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and potatoes and stir frequently until the onions turn transparent. Add the stock and tomatoes. If the stock is still frozen just dump it in there and close the lid for a while, checking to keep vegetables from sticking. Now turn the heat down to medium and add the cabbage, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add some water to it. When all the vegetables are cooked through, add the cooked beans and the pasta and a shake of cayenne pepper. Cook for an additional ten minutes. When the pasta is done the soup is done.

This soup serves 6-8

Whether or not you need to economize right now, this is an excellent stew to eat when the wind outside is cutting through your wool coat and the rain is sheeting against your face. Eat it with a decent sized hunk of wheat bread with butter if you need to be out in that weather for long. The cayenne will help warm your blood, the garlic will help fend off the plague.

This recipe is vegan if the pasta you use has no eggs in it.

This recipe can be gluten free if you use a gluten free pasta: if you’re making it for someone who is eating gluten free because they have to (they’re allergic), please be very careful which pasta you use because some “gluten free” foods are made in factories where gluten is present.  If possible check with the person to see if they know of a safe brand.  OR just leave the pasta out altogether.

Potato Celery Root Soup

Celery root is abundant throughout the fall and winter in the Pacific Northwest and if you, like me, try to eat both seasonally and locally then this might very well be abundant where you are too.    Like most potato based soups, this one is creamy and lightly earthy and with the addition of celery root it also has a wonderful delicate celery flavor.  Seasoning should to be taste but kept simple.  I like to add milk to my creamy potato based soups but I’ve also made them without the milk and it’s very good, so it’s worth making if you’re vegan.  The cheese garnish is optional if you’re not me.

Potato Celery Root Soup

Ingredients:

3 large starchy potatoes (either Russets or a similar type), diced medium

1 whole celery root, diced medium

1 giant carrot, diced medium

2 quarts vegetable or chicken broth, or water

Salt to taste

Pepper, about a kazillion grinds

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup of 2% milk, optional

Cheddar cheese garnish, optional

Method:

Heat up the olive oil and butter in a soup pot on medium high heat, then add all the vegetables at once.  Stirring frequently, saute the vegetables until they very slightly brown (about 10 minutes on my burner).  Don’t let them burn.  Add the stock (or water) and make sure nothing has stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Bring the soup to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer.  Cook until all the vegetables are soft and until the potatoes come apart easily.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Puree.

Recipe notes: With a delicate soup like this I would suggest the best choice for broth is vegetable or plain water.  Chicken would be alright, but beef broth would have too deep and heavy a taste of its own and may overpower the light flavors of the soup.  Always remember that a soup is highly personal and if you like it runnier than it turns out, add more liquid.  If you like it thicker, like I do, let it cook down a little bit.  There is no hard science to soup.  A lot of it is by preference and by feel.  I usually use more salt and pepper in this soup than my other soups.  I would say I use between 1 1/2 tsp and 2 tsp salt and I probably do about 40 grinds of pepper.  I use my immersion blender to blend it and don’t have to wait til it cools, but if you’re using a full size blender to puree the soup you’ll need to wait until it cools a bit or you might burn yourself.

To veganize this recipe all you need to do is use 2 tbsp of olive oil for the sauteing and don’t use the milk or add any cheese.  I promise it’s a very good soup without these additions.

This soup is gluten free through no merit or planning on my part.

Potato Celery Root Mash

This is a simple satisfying winter accompaniment to a meal.  It can also be put into hand-pies (what I lovingly refer to as “poorhouse pies”) and as soon as I have a couple of other necessary recipes posted I will give instructions on how to make poorhouse pies using this mash as one of the fillings.

Potato Celery Root Mash

Ingredients:

2 large potatoes (starchy type, such as russet), diced into 1/2″ pieces

1 whole celeriac (celery root), diced into 1/2″ pieces

1 medium sized turnip (or 2 small ones), diced into 1/2″ pices

1/2 stick of butter

salt to taste
pepper to taste

Method:

put all of the vegetables into a steamer basket fitted into a pot and steam them until very tender.  If your steaming basket will not accommodate them all at once, steam the potatoes first, then steam the celeriac and the turnips together.

Put all the hot vegetables in a medium sized bowl and cut up your butter into pieces and add it to the bowl and fold it into the vegetables until it is melted.

Use a potato masher to mash them into a smooth consistency.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  My guess is at least teaspoon of salt will be needed.

Serve hot.  (Reheat if necessary)

Recipe notes: Many people boil their root vegetables before mashing.  I don’t see any reason not to do it this way if you prefer it.  My mother always steamed rather than boiled vegetables because she believed it was healthier, and I tend to agree, but I haven’t got any proof to share either way.  I am a fan of mashed potatoes and I like, but don’t love, potatoes mashed with turnips, but this combination is divine!  The celery root and turnip keeps the mash from stiffening up because they aren’t starchy like the potatoes, and the celery root adds a delicate wonderful flavor.  This is one of those simple winter foods that take few ingredients or effort to make and so are not only budget friendly but also a great dish for people with little time.

Veganize this! To make this recipe vegan, simply use olive oil in place of the butter.  Use a mild golden variety rather than a green grassier flavored one.  Or you can use a vegan butter substitute if you like, however, I would always recommend using either butter or olive oil rather than an unnatural hydrogenated spread which may rely on a lot of unnecessary ingredients to help it mimic the butter experience.  If you can’t (or don’t wish) to eat dairy, olive oil is often the best substitute for butter.