Thinking about Cabbage
This morning I opened my day planner and realized that it is March 2nd already. Daylight Saving Time and St. Patrick’s Day are just around the corner, and spring officially begins on March 20th. Time does truly fly!
I associate March with calving season. When Lyle was still with us and the kids lived closer around, we had more cows and that’s when calving season started here at Pipi’s Pasture. It wasn’t uncommon for calves to be born on St. Patrick’s Day so we gave them nicknames such as “Patty,” “Shamrock,” and others appropriate for the holiday.
The other thing I think about in March is “cabbage” because the vegetable is a well-known ingredient in St. Patrick Day dishes. When I was a child growing up on the ranch, Mom made the holiday special by cooking a special supper on St. Patrick’s Day. As I remember, we most often had corned beef and cabbage, but she might have also fixed cabbage rolls or boiled beef and cabbage. She also served a green gelatin salad and a cake with frosting tinted with green food coloring. We kids looked forward to this celebration.
I enjoyed cooking cabbage dishes for my family on St. Patrick’s Day, too, but not just on St. Patrick’s Day. I always enjoyed making cabbage rolls and a variety of casseroles– even a salad made with chopped cabbage and apples, sliced bananas, and a sweet dressing. However, my favorite cabbage recipe—perhaps even favorite recipe—is “Cabbage Soup.” The aroma from this simmering soup is wonderful.
So, for a change of pace, this week’s column features “Cabbage Soup.” To make the soup you will need the following ingredients: a pound of ground beef; 2 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces; 1 small onion, chopped; ½ cup sliced celery, leaves optional; 2 cups diced tomatoes in sauce; 1 small can diced green chilies; 1 cup canned pinto beans; 3 cups finely-sliced cabbage; 2 cups water (enough to cover the vegetables and meat); beef bouillon cubes, to taste; and salt and pepper, to taste.
Brown the beef in a skillet. Fry the cut-up pieces of bacon in the soup pot. Fry until cooked but not crispy. When it’s cooked, remove the bacon from the pot and pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of bacon fat. Add the chopped onion and saute’ it in the fat. When the onion is limp, put the bacon back in the pot. Drain the ground beef and put it in the soup pot, too. Then add the sliced celery and chopped-up celery leaves, tomatoes, green chilies, pinto beans, finely-chopped cabbage, and water. Season with salt and pepper. Add one or more bouillon cubes for a wonderful flavor.
Mix well and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, add a lid, and simmer about 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the cabbage is tender. Serve with homemade bread or rolls or French bread that is buttered and warmed in the oven.
This week, while I was shopping, I noticed that cabbage was on sale. It’s a perfect time to try cabbage soup.
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