White Beans and Cabbage Soup

August 5th, 2012

Fresh Cabbage From "The Box"



While green cabbage is the most commonly eaten variety of cabbage, I guess you could say it is not that common  in our house and is only eaten once a year on St. Patrick’s Day. I was stumped all week trying to figure out what to do with this vegetable.

Other than corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, the only other type I have ever had was red cabbage with the traditional pot roast dinner. This happens to be my family’s most requested meal and favorite, except for my daughter Katelyn who refuses to eat the pot roast! I am not that crazy for it either, although we do love the sweet red cabbage.

As I researched cabbage, I found not only is it a very economical vegetable that is easy to find, but gives a huge nutritional bang for your buck. It possesses phytochemicals including sulforaphane, which studies suggest protects the body against cancer-causing free radicals, and indoles, which help metabolize estrogens. It is also an excellent source of vitamins K and C and a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate, manganese and Omega 3 fatty acids. Cabbage is in the Cruciferae family along with kale, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts. The best part is it only has 31 calories for a cooked cup! Maybe I should eat more of this vegetable!

Instead of the traditional cole slaw made with green cabbage, I wanted to find something a bit more interesting to make.  I asked the aides that do an amazing job at taking care of my parents, what they do with their cabbage; Margaret roasts it in the oven and Bernice steams it. While looking for a recipe, I saw so many for cole slaw, stuffed cabbage, a cabbage tart, yuck, and a stir fry. I wanted to come up with something that would pair nicely with the chicken parmesan I was making, topped with the grilled eggplant and zucchini from the box. I came across a baked white bean with cabbage soup/stew that calls for a rind from a Parmesan cheese instead of a ham bone.  And I changed a few other things:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (I used a Walla Walla onion from the box)

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 green frying pepper (from the box)

1 head of green cabbage cored and chopped (from the box)

4 garlic cloves, minced (from the box last week)

1 pound (1 bag) cannellini beans

8 cups water

1 Parmesan rind

Parsley and thyme sprigs and a bay leaf wrapped in cheesecloth and tied

Salt and pepper

Chopped parsley, fresh thyme

In a heated ovenproof casserole, I sautéed the onion, carrot and pepper about 5 minutes, stirred in the cabbage and garlic. Then, I cooked for another 5 minutes.

I added the beans, water, rind, cheesecloth and pepper. I don’t add salt (my husband’s has high blood pressure); I let everyone salt their own food to taste. I baked the casserole in a 325 degree oven for 2-3 hours until the beans were tender. I removed the rind and cheesecloth, adjusted the seasoning and added parsley and fresh thyme. This was supposed to be 6 servings but it makes so much more than that. I’d say about 12 servings.

Nutritional information per serving – based on 12 servings: 165 calories; 2.5 grams fat; .5 gram saturated fat;  0 mg cholesterol; 28 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams dietary fiber; 22 mg sodium; 9.5 grams protein.

It turned out creamy, it was hearty, had intense flavor, and went well with the rest of the meal. Our favorite part was dipping the whole wheat, thick, crusty, artisan round bread, that I got from the new farmers market in my town, in the broth (my dad calls them manhole covers)!  I look forward to trying other methods of preparing cabbage as well.

What did I do with the rest of my goodies? Well the cucumbers, soooo crunchy, went in my salads all week, the zucchini and red potatoes in our Sunday eggs as well as for dinner one night. The zucchini is so fresh that the outside skin is smooth to the touch and unblemished. I needed additional eggplant so I went out to my own garden to look and was surprised to find both baby purple and white eggplant, as well as many zucchini squash flowers. I was thrilled to find enough orange cherry tomatoes and string beans for Sunday night dinner.

Til next week….

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