…and we’re back! (We had some internet issues. It turns out to be very hard to blog w/out internet access. Someone better get on that.) Happy New Year! We welcome the new year and the end of the holiday season. We love everything about the holidays, but our waistlines suggest it’s good that they only last so long. Soon it will be time for new year’s resolutions (post coming soon, backsliding soon after), but before that we get to deal with the slightly
hungover bleary feelings that come with January 1st. Time for a big bowl of soup and the Rose Bowl. Go Stanford!
We call this soup “Holiday Hangover Soup”, but we could just as easily call it “Resolution Soup” (“Guilt Soup”?), or simply “Winter Vegetable Soup”. You could also call this soup a “Garbure”, if you want to be a bit more high-brow (we don’t). But whatever you call it, this soup combines a rich, flavorful stock and just a bit of pork with winter vegetables. It is easy to make, easy to tune to your tastes and easy to like. You get a lot of flavor and just a little fat to go with a good dose of veggies, and after the holidays most of us need a few more veggies.
This recipe is ours, but we did develop it from a Michael Ruhlman recipe for Winter Vegetable Garbure from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”. “Ruhlman’s Twenty” is a cookbook that focuses on twenty specific techniques and/or ingredients that make up the foundation fo good cooking, and then provides a few recipes to prove the point. If you are new to cooking, this is a very solid cookbook for your collection. If you are a more experienced cook, you get some extra pointers on technique and some recipes for inspiration. Worth a look.
What drew us to this recipe was a few tips that make our soup stock really sing. Ruhlman notes that a little tomato paste and a touch of fish sauce in the soup adds umami, while a splash of sherry vinegar supplies acidity for balance. We enhanced / changed the recipe to build the stock from smoked ham hocks and (optionally) add some Sriracha for smoke and spice notes. When you combine these flavors with crunchy, bright and sweet winter vegetables you get a winning dish. The soup is still light and healthy, but the depth of flavors almost makes it feel like a stew or chowder. This soup is a meal in one bowl. And it helps clear a fuzzy head….
Making a soup like this truly is easy (and cheap, no fancy ingredients). All you need to do is rough chop some vegetables and boil water. The only issue is time. You do need a few hours, mostly inactive, to make the soup. And while it tastes good right from the pot, like many soups, this will be even better the next day. If you know you will be a bit “worse-for-wear” the next day, this soup is a wise dish to make ahead. Our pot of soup is ready for a lazy morning with the Rose Bowl Parade on TV and then the game. After a few bowls of this soup we will be in fighting shape for kickoff…
(Inspired / adapted from Michael Ruhlman)
Notes Before You Start:
- We use ham hocks or shanks as the base for our stock, but you can use bacon rind or a touch of salt pork. You can also omit the meat and build a vegetable stock.
- Have your butcher cut the ham hocks into 2 or 3 pieces for easier cooking.
- While there is no requirement that you skim the stock, it will make for a more attractive broth.
What You Get: A healthy, flavorful vegetable soup with some extra pop.
What You Need: No special equipment required.
How Long? About 2 and 1/2 hours, with 30 minutes active time. The soup gets better after a night in the fridge.
- 4 medium-sized leeks (2 large), cleaned and roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 shallot, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 medium carrots, diced
- 4 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 smoked ham hock (1 to 2 pounds), split / sawed into 3 pieces
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 pound cabbage, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional, but good)
- 1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar (optional, but good)
- Sriracha, to taste (optional, but good)
- Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the leeks, onion, garlic and half of the carrots and celery. Soften the vegetables for about 5 minutes, then add the ham hocks and bay leaves and cover with water (about 8 cups). Bring the water to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for one hour. Halfway through the simmering time skim any foam or scum from the top of the stock.
- Remove the ham hocks from the pot and put them on a plate to cool. Once cool, pick the meat from the ham hocks and discard any bones or skin. Rough chop the meat from the ham hock. Meanwhile, strain the vegetables from the stock and return the stock to the pot. Add the tomato paste to the stock and stir until combined. Taste the stock and add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Bring the stock to a low boil and add the ham and potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the cabbage and the remaining carrots and celery. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are just cooked. Season the soup with fish sauce, vinegar and Sriracha. Adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Serve.
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