Despite its humble name, this is one of the tastiest soups for a cold winter evening dinner. It’s also a very versatile recipe – replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and leave out the ham hocks and you have a vegetarian version. Or, add cooked sliced sausages or pasta for a hearty main course meal.
1 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
1 1/2 lbs. green cabbage, chopped
6 cups chicken stock or broth
1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes, diced and undrained
1 smoked ham hock or ham bone
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped (or 1/2 cup pesto sauce)
2 cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Melt butter and olive oil in large stock pan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and celery. Sauté for five minutes, stirring frequently.
Add cabbage and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently.
Add stock, tomatoes (and juice), ham hock, salt, pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer about one hour, stirring occasionally.
Discard ham hock bones, reserving meat. Chop meat and add beans and meat to soup.
When ready to serve, top each serving with crouton. Garnish with sprinkle of greshly grated Parmesan cheese,if desired.
YIELD: Makes 8 servings.
Slice sweet or sourdough bread loaf into 1 inch thick slices. Brush generously with melted butter, sprinkle with garlic powder or salt and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Bake in 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until croutons are crisp and golden.
- No cannelini beans? Use red kidney beans.
- For spicier soup, add sliced kielbasa or andouille (spicy) sausage. Add a shake or two of Tabasco or red pepper flakes.
- Add cooked pasta or cubed potatoes for heartier soup, if desired.
- Add more veggies of your choice, such as baby spinach leaves, zucchini slices, or cut green beans