Although my husband and I have hosted many Thanksgivings for our family, this year we will be celebrating at our son’s home in the Boston suburbs. (Our grandson, a talented defensive linebacker, is scheduled to play in his high school’s annual football match held on Thanksgiving morning.) My son, Mike, and I have been coordinating the menu. He’s in charge of the turkey and plans to brine and then smoke it slowly for several hours. I’ll bring Southern cornbread dressing, cranberry chutney, and haricots verts with caramelized shallots. I’m also planning to include a creamy potato, leek, and Savoy cabbage soup, which I’ve made several times this fall, always to winning reviews.
This potage is simplicity itself to assemble and cook. Diced potatoes, chopped leeks, and strips of Savoy cabbage are sautéed in butter, and then simmered in chicken stock until tender. Next the cooked vegetables are puréed and the mixture enhanced with crème fraîche. What really makes this dish striking and photo-worthy, though, is the presentation. I removed the outer leaves from a large head of Savory cabbage, molded them into bowls, and then ladled in the soup. The dark green leaves make a dramatic backdrop to the ivory-hued potato and cabbage mélange. Garnishes, including crisp, crumbled bacon, lightly sautéed diced apple, and chopped parsley add texture and color.
Savoy cabbage, for those not familiar with this vegetable, is a variety of cabbage with a spherical shape. It is distinguished by its crinkly leaves, which are dark, emerald green on the outside and celadon-hued within. A bonus for Thanksgiving cooks is that this cabbage holds up well in the fridge for a week or longer.
You can make this soup a day ahead, and at serving time, prepare the garnishes and assemble it. A recipe will serve 6 with modest one cup portions, perfect to whet your appetite before the big feast!
May you all have safe travels and eat well. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
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Creamy Potato and Savoy Cabbage Soup with Crispy Bacon and Sauteed Apples
2 1/2 to 3 pd head of Savoy cabbage with attractive outer leaves
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks
2 cups diced Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, and cut into ½-inch dice (about 20 oz)
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crème fraîche
4 thick slices bacon (about 4 oz)
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 medium apple such as McIntosh, Honey Crisp, or Granny Smith, unpeeled, quartered lengthwise, cored, and cut into 1/4 -inch dice 1 1/2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1.Gently remove 6 large outer leaves from the cabbage and set aside. Quarter the cabbage lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch wide strips, removing and discarding any strips with thick white veins. Measure out a generous, packed 4 cups. (Save extra cabbage for another use.) Rinse the outer leaves in hot water, pat dry, and wrap in paper towels.
2.Heat butter in a large, heavy pot set over medium heat. When hot, add leeks and potatoes and season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring often, just until leeks start to soften slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Add cabbage strips and cook, stirring, until they start to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Don’t let vegetables brown. Add stock, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat and cook, uncovered, at a simmer until vegetables are very tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
3. While the soup is simmering, cook the bacon in the microwave or fry in a frying pan. Drain, cool, and crumble coarsely. Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat and sauté the diced apple just to coat lightly with butter, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Purée the soup in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and return the soup to the pot. Or, use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot. Whisk in the crème fraîche. Season the soup with more salt and pepper if needed.
5.With a sharp knife, make a 2 to 2 1/2-inch (upside down) V-cut in the center along the base of each leaf. Remove and discard this cut out including part of the thick white vein. (This will help you mold the leaves in the bowls more easily.) Arrange leaves in six medium soup bowls. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with bacon, apples, and parsley. Serves 6 with about one cup portions.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2022