I enjoy gardening, don’t you? I started gardening when I was in grade school. In fact, when I was 12 years old, I grew a BIG cabbage. The BIG cabbage was my pride and joy.
Of course, I grew this cabbage in Alaska–you know, the place where everything is BIG. In fact, my cabbage weighed 40 lbs.
After growing this pride and joy, I hadn’t thought about it much. Mostly, I’ve lived my life knowing that I am a successful cabbage gardener. I haven’t won any awards or even shared this tidbit of information with many of my friends.
Perhaps I’ve just lived my life feeling really proud about my gardening ability, particularly when it comes to growing cabbage. Well, I must admit that I’ve probably been a bit arrogant about the whole ordeal.
However, last September my pride was shattered. I was crushed. I felt about the same as when my mother exceeded my BIG fish catch record. In 1984, my little petite mum (she’s 4′ 11″ tall) caught a 70 lb. King Salmon in Deep Creek, Alaska. After that occasion, life was simply not the same.
My cabbage pride (vs. my fishing pride) was shattered at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, Alaska. I remember the day well.
“R” and I had decided to take my mom out to lunch, then spend the afternoon walking and wandering the Fairgrounds. It was a crisp and cool Fall day. We entertained ourselves silly…
I wish we hadn’t done it. But, we did. We walked and wandered into the farm animal and garden complex…
It was OK at first. We viewed and talked about all the nice vegetables grown by local gardeners. We even saw some large vegetables.
But there it was. I remember gasping for air. I had even wondered if I was dis-com-bob-u-lated (is that a word? well, you know what I mean). I closed my eyes and reopened them and saw cabbages everywhere…
But, there was no mistaking the BIG cabbage. It was “The Beast” of all cabbages. And it was, indeed, there in front of me.
“The Beast” weighed 127 pounds. Can you believe it my Cafe’ friends? I was in awe, as you can imagine.
The Anchorage Daily News reported about “The Beast”…that “Leafy Wonder”. But, I was unable to read all the details. My cabbage pride had been wounded.
Time heals these wounds, however. So, now several months later I’m upbeat again. Why not? You only live once! Why not make cabbage and meatball soup to soothe one’s wounded cabbage pride and move on in life. Shall we, my Susitna Cafe’ friends?
Cabbage and Meatball Soup (serves 6-8)
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 small celery hearts with leaves, chopped (or, 1 celery stalk will do)
2 carrots, sliced
.25 lb Serrano ham, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small head of cabbage, shredded and chopped
7-8 cups of water
2 heaping Tablespoons of Better than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base (or 3 cubes of Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon)
1 can cannellini beans, drained (or ½ cup dried beans soaked in 4 cups of water overnight)
Parmesan rind (or about 1/3 cup of grated parmesan)
10 meatballs (your favorite recipe or frozen will do—I often use Ikea frozen meatballs (thawed) because they are good quality, and have no preservatives)
Make Your Soup Base
Heat olive oil in large dutch oven or soup pot under medium heat. Add garlic and sauté. When the garlic begins to turn brown, add the chopped onions. Sauté and stir til transparent. Now add your chopped celery with leaves, sliced carrots and chopped Serrano ham. Cook for about 10 minutes. Next, add the chopped plum tomatoes and cabbage. Stir and sauté for another 10 minutes, and enjoy the beautiful color of this cabbage soup base.
Let’s Make Soup
Your soup base is prepared, so now let’s add 7 cups of water, the bouillon, cannellini beans, and the parmesan rind. Simmer the soup for approximately 30 minutes. If you used dried soaked beans, you may need to simmer the soup longer in order to soften the beans. Taste, and use your own discretion.
Add your meatballs and lots of fresh ground pepper. You may add an additional cup of water if the soup becomes too thick (note, this is a substantial soup so it will be thick). Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add salt, as needed.
Garnish with shredded parmesan. Serve with crusty sourdough bread, a hunk of your favorite cheese, and a tossed salad.
Ode to the Cabbage
Oh, great cabbage…
Where art thou?
Not one of 5, 10, or 20 pounds…
No imposter will do!
Oh, what temerity!
Roll along now ye little ones…
We seek cabbage from the Land of the Midnight Sun!
Traveler’s Notes: the Alaska State Fair will be held this year from Aug. 26-Sept. 6, 2010. Be sure to visit the BIG vegetables!
Cook’s Notes: this recipe makes alot of soup–freeze some! It freezes well.