Cabbage soup is very good for you, yes, but it always sounds so boring and as if it belongs in the diet aisle of recipes. I’ve been spending some time focused on getting to know individual ingredients better and making them the hero rather than using a cut of meat as many of us tend to do. Think about how often we describe meals using the protein as the first descriptor: roast chicken with all the sides, meat and two veg etc. My objective is to change that by championing other ingredients.
Cabbage has often been seen as a staple as it is cost effective, has a great shelf life, goes a long way and is packed with vitamins and fibre.
I got a huge cabbage from a friend’s garden, so I needed to work my way through it.
I used just a chubby cheek from the huge cabbage for this soup and plumped up the flavour and thickness with sweet potatoes and red lentils.
This recipe makes a spicy, creamy soup served with my favourite savoury pancakes made with just a few ingredients – chickpea flour, oil and water – seasoning and herbs are optional.
CURRIED CABBAGE AND SWEET POTATO SOUP
1 large white onion, sliced
8 bay leaves
3 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek
3 cassia sticks
1/2 tsp black and white peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp Durban curry powder
1 tin chopped tomatoes with chilli or use 3 fresh tomatoes and half a chilli
3 cups water
2 whole leeks, chopped
3 sticks of celery, chopped
3 cups shredded white cabbage
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 tin coconut milk
1 sweet potato, cut into thick slices
Kalahari or Himalayan salt
5 or 6 leaves of cabbage leaves thinly sliced (chiffonade)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil
sprinkle of salt
Fry the onion, spices, bay leaves and oil on medium heat until soft and translucent.
Add the leeks and celery and cook out for 5 minutes or so.
Next add the tomato, sweet potato, cabbage, lentils and enough water to cover the ingredients.
Turn the stove down to a simmer and leave it for around half an hour, checking and stirring it up every ten minutes or so.
Leave it to cool a bit, so you can safely blend the soup.
If you have a stick blender, then just blend straight in the pot. I used a countertop blender, so I had to do it in two batches.
Here is where you add the coconut milk to make a smooth creamy soup.
I also choose the add the salt after everything is blended.
As you are blending all the spices and vegetables, you may need less salt because the flavour is quite deep.
To top it off I lightly fried the sliced cabbage and pumpkin seeds in the hot oil until the seeds popped.
SOCCA CHICKPEA PANCAKES
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup + 1 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp kalonji seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
pinch of smoked paprika
Whisk or blend all the ingredients together, including the oil.
Heat up some oil in a small pan and pour the pancake batter in – frying for only a minute or so on each side.
I’ve made these a few times in different thicknesses and find that each has its merits, so make one and see how thick you prefer it.