Cabbage and Farro Soup

Cabbage and Farro Soup

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Comforting Cabbage and Farro Soup from Six Seasons. Bright, clean flavors bring out the best in simple and unassuming cabbage and farro. If you've been wanting to play with adding things other than salt + pepper to enhance the flavors of your recipes, try this soup!

Here’s what you need to know about this soup:

My niece devoured it. When I make it, people ask for the recipe. When I taste it (especially right after adding the vinegar), I immediately regret not making more. 

I want to say that the cabbage in this soup is unlike other version of cabbage I’ve had before, which I believe is fair and true but also doesn’t give credit to the rest of the subtle alchemy. 

First, there’s the sauteed onion and oil. Known. Check. Then, the cabbage gets cooked and wilted to a sort of caramelized point. Hmm, interesting. Carry on, Joshua. Out of left field, plain old vinegar is added. The vinegar works magic, by marrying all the flavors together, coxing out the best of each one. And then. And THEN! There’s the lemon juice that brightens the broth even further. And to finish the trick? Add in a shower of parm and boom! You’ve seen one of the best tricks with simple, humble, ingredients. 

The underlying magic that Joshua teaches early in the book is to taste everything and adjust the flavors as you go, but also that salt and pepper are only two of many options. The vinegar is added about at the halfway point and if you take a taste before and after the small tablespoon (considering you’ve added it to a pound of cabbage and onion) you’ll get what he means to taste. With Six Seasons I learned that instead of looking at what’s changed when you “season to taste,” look for what seasoning can heighten the current flavors further, rather than distract from them. 

In a million years, without this recipe, I don’t think I’d ever think to add a splash of vinegar to soup. After tasting the difference it makes, I feel like I understand cooking and flavors a tiny bit more. 

The recipe calls for savoy or green cabbage. I’ve tried it both ways and prefer savoy. If you can only get green, fear not! I suggest cooking it (before the vinegar and broth get added below) for longer (closer to 60 minutes). 

An exact pound of cabbage is nearly impossible to find. If you have double, you can carry on but the first cook/wilt/softening of the cabbage will take longer and you might need to add the cabbage in batches. Just adjust the rest of the ingredients accordingly. 

Because you’ll most likely have a huge mountain of raw cabbage standing by, I like to prep the onion and garlic and cabbage core first and then clear them off the cutting board to make way for the cabbage ribbon mountain.

Joshua also teaches about how toasting farro adds more flavor and I urge you to try it for the first time here. To be fair, I only taste a bit of difference in terms of toasted grains but what I find to be so much better is the texture. 

You can make this vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. You can make this a vegan soup recipe by omitting the cheese.

Ingredients

1 pound cabbage, savoy or green

Olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 - 3 sprigs of rosemary or thyme 

1 tablespoon red wine or white wine vinegar

2/3 cup uncooked farro

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Grated parmesan

Steps

Prep the onion and garlic. Slice the onion, smash and peel the garlic. Set aside.

Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

Cut off the dark end of the cabbage, use the now flat base to stabilize the cabbage and cut the head in half. Cut out the core and dice it. 

Add the onion, diced cabbage core, and some salt and pepper to the heated oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften, about 7 - 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until it softens, too. About 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the cabbage leaves into thin (⅛-inch - ¼-inch) ribbons. 

When the garlic and onion have softened, add the shredded cabbage leaves and herb sprig, if using. (If you have a huge amount of cabbage ribbons, just add them in stages as the first ones added to the pot begin to wilt and make room.) Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and allow the steam to soften the leaves enough for you to stir them with the rest of the ingredients, about 5 minutes.

Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is very sweet and tender, which Joshua says will take 30 minutes or longer and I always find it takes longer. (Deb over on smittenkitchen.com says it takes her 15 to 20 minutes so times may vary.)

While the cabbage is cooking, toast the farro. Heat a slick of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the uncooked farro, stirring often, until it darkens about a half shade, though you could go longer for a deeper, nuttier flavor. 

When the cabbage is ready, stir in the vinegar. Taste and season with more salt and pepper. Add toasted farro and broth. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 to 35 minutes, until farro is tender and all the flavors are married.

The soup will be thick. If you’d like, add another 1/2 cup broth or water. Taste. Stir in lemon juice. Taste. Adjust seasoning (lemon, vinegar, salt, pepper are all eligible here!) to taste. 

Serve hot with a drizzle with olive oil and a shower of parmesan.

Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a handful of days.


Notes

The recipe calls for savoy or green cabbage. I’ve tried it both ways and prefer savoy. If you can only get green, fear not! I suggest cooking it (before the vinegar and broth get added below) for longer (closer to 60 minutes). 

An exact pound of cabbage is nearly impossible to find. If you have double, you can carry on but the first cook/wilt/softening of the cabbage will take longer and you might need to add the cabbage in batches. Just adjust the rest of the ingredients accordingly. 

Because you’ll most likely have a huge mountain of raw cabbage standing by, I like to prep the onion and garlic and cabbage core first and then clear them off the cutting board to make way for the cabbage ribbon mountain.

You can make this vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. You can make this a vegan soup recipe by omitting the cheese. (Even when I make this with chicken broth, I often omit the cheese and it's still one of my favorite bowls of soup.)

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Cabbage and Farro Soup
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