This recipe for red cabbage soup or Cavolo Rosso was published some years ago on our family
Since our days in Rome, I have always admired the casual elegance of Italian cuisine. Most “classic” Italian dishes reflect home-cooking that has been perfected over many generations by families trying to reproduce regional specialties. A cookbook that has always been a “go-to” for our family is Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating. I was hoping to provide you with the Amazon link, but this 1976 classic is now out of print.
Marcella didn’t set out to create a new form of Italian cuisine, she simply provided recipes of traditional family favorites, mostly from Bologna and other northern Italian regions. This delightful winter recipe of Marcella’s Red Cabbage Soup from Tuscany exemplifies the simplicity and casualness of Italian cooking with an elegant finish that leaves many talented chefs lifting their Prosecco glasses in admiration. The infused garlic oil added at the end of the recipe is a stroke of culinary genius!
How can you not like a recipe with the following commentary:
- “You should not hesitate to take some freedom with the basic recipe, varying its proportions of sausage, beans, and cabbage according to taste.”
- ” . . . make a heartier dish by increasing the quantity of sausage. On the other hand, you can eliminate the sausage altogether, substituting for it any piece of pork on a bone, and increase the quantity of broth to make a true soup . . .
- “The dish develops even better when warmed up one or two days later, which means you can prepare it entirely in advance . . .”
- “This cooking may be done at various stages, spread over two or three days . . .:
In effect, Marcella’s Zuppa di cavalo nero is a classic Italian example of home cooking at its best.Feel free to improvise and don’t get hung up on the timing or details.
Marcella Hazan’s Red Cabbage Soup
For the Soup
- 1/4 lb fresh pork rind Optional
- 1/2 tsp chopped garlic I suggest a bit more
- 2 Tbs chopped yellow onion
- 2 Tbs pancetta thinly shredded – I suggest a bit more if you are dropping the pork rind
- 1 lb red cabbage coarsely shredded
- 1/3 cup celery chopped
- 3 Tbs canned Italian tomato drained and coarsely chopped
- A tiny pinch of thyme
- 3 cups Homemade Meat Broth or 1 cup canned beef broth mixed with 2 cups of water
- Freshly ground pepper be generous
- 1/2 pound luganega sausage or other mild sausage. Editors Note: This is a small – 3/8″ in diameter sausage that is generally found in the sausage area of a grocery store or specialty boutique. Beware of the sweet Italian sausage found at Whole Foods and other groceries stores since it is full of mysterious additives. I recommend the imported luganega. Please note that I use a full pound of the sausage.
- 1 20 oz can cannellini beans Other white beans will do.
For the Flavored Oil
- 2 or 3 medium cloves of garlic lightly crushed with a heavy knife handle
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary leaves.
For the Soup
- Put the garlic, onion and pancetta in a stockpot with the oil and sauté over medium heat until the onion and garlic are very lightly colored.
- Add the shredded cabbage, the chopped celery, the tomato and a tiny pinch of thyme. Cook over medium-low heat until the cabbage has completely wilted. Stir thoroughly from time to time.
- When the cabbage has become soft, add the broth, 2 tsp salt, and pepper, cover the pot and cook at a very low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (This cooking process may be done over two or three days).
- Off the heat, uncover the pot, tilt it slightly, and draw off as much as possible of the fat that rises to the surface (there shouldn’t be too much if you haven’t used the fresh pork rind)
- Brown the sausage in a small pay for 6 to 8 minutes over medium-low heat.
- Return the pot to the burner and bring to a simmer. Add the browned sausages (cut in 1/2″ long pieces) and drained of their fat. Purée half the cooked beans into the pot and stir well. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the remaining whole beans and correct for desired thickness by adding more broth or water. Salt to taste. Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.
For the Flavored Oil
- Put the crushed garlic cloves and the oil in a small pan and sauté over lively heat until the garlic is nicely browned. Add the chopped rosemary, turn off the heat, and stir two or three times. Pour the oil through a sieve into the soup pot, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes more.
- Serve with good crusty Italian or French bread.