Warming Soup for Cold January Days and Turbulent Times

I remember clearly that after 9/11, all I wanted to cook was comfort food. I could say the same thing this week after our nation’s Capitol was attacked on 1/6. Once again comfort food is what my husband and I craved. During the past few days bowls of spaghetti tossed with a tomato and caper sauce, fried fish sandwiches served with chips, and pizzas ordered from our local pizzeria have brought consolation. Most of all we found our spirits lifted by a warming roasted cabbage and potato soup with smoked kielbasa.

This soup, which calls for inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients, is also uncomplicated to assemble. Diced potatoes and wedges of cabbage are roasted in the oven to enhance their flavor before they are simmered in stock along with kielbasa, onions, and carrots. Generous dollops of crème fraîche and a shower of fresh chopped dill make perfect garnishes. A bonus for the cook is that this soup tastes even better when made a day in advance.

A single recipe yields four generous servings so for us that meant we had two delicious soup suppers. I added a salad of crisp salad greens, Belgian endive, and sliced radishes dressed with a vinaigrette plus some warm whole wheat rolls to round out the meal. We felt comforted the minute we took our first spoonful of that soup.

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Roasted Cabbage and Potato Soup with Smoked Kielbasa

A 2-pound cabbage
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra if needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces smoked kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into thin half moons
1 cup diced carrots, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 bay leaves, broken in half
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup crème fraîche
Smoked paprika, optional, for sprinkling
5 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment.

2. Halve the cabbage lengthwise, and reserve one half for another use. Cut out and discard the center core from the other half. Then cut the cabbage, lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges. (If you can’t find a small 2 pound cabbage, use one pound of a larger cabbage.) Arrange the cabbage wedges in a single layer on one side of the baking sheet. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the other side. Heat butter and oil in a small pan set over medium heat until butter has melted. Spoon one tablespoon of the mixture over the potatoes and toss until coated well. Spoon remaining mixture over the cabbage and toss until wedges are coated. Season vegetables with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

3. Roast vegetables, stirring every 10 minutes, until potatoes are golden and tender when pierced with a sharp knife, and cabbage is wilted, softened, and browned around edges, about 40 minutes. (As cabbage roasts, it will separate into strips and pieces and not remain in wedges.)

4. While vegetables are in the oven, place a large deep-sided pot over medium high heat. When hot add kielbasa and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings in the pan, or add enough olive oil to make 1 tablespoon.

5. Return pot to heat and when hot, add carrots and onions. Cook, stirring often, until onions are just softened, 3 to 4 minutes, Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. If at this point the cabbage and potatoes are still in the oven, remove the pot from heat and set aside.

6. When cabbage and potatoes are done, using potholders, remove the baking sheet from the oven. With a slotted spoon transfer them to the pot with the carrots and onions, and set the pot over medium high heat. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Return kielbasa to the pan along with bay leaves. Pour in stock. Bring mixture to a simmer, lower heat, and cover. Cook at a simmer for 15 minutes to develop the flavor of the stock. Season soup with more salt, adding up to 1/2 teaspoon or more plus several grinds of pepper. Discard bay leaves. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat, adding more stock, if needed.)

7 Ladle soup into four bowls. Garnish each serving with 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche, and, if desired, sprinkle some smoked paprika over it. Sprinkle each serving generously with fresh dill.

Serves 4

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2021

6 thoughts on “Warming Soup for Cold January Days and Turbulent Times

    • Hi Diane, WE love this soup as a main course with a salad on cold winter nights, and hope you’ll like it too. It seems to get better as it sits in the fridge a day or two. Stay safe and well! Betty.

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