Sunday, July 26, 2009
I really want this blog to exist. I really, really do. It turns out that moving and then not having internet and then working every day until the end of time tends to put a damper on things. Go figure.
I am back though, and I am back with what happens to be my favourite comfort food in existence. You may find it strange, but that comfort food is Tomato-Cabbage soup. Seriously, yes. Cabbage.
When I was young, my mother would always make a slow-cooking dinner on Sundays. I would love to say that the smell of home-cooked meals cooked with love permeated our humble abode and made me long for 6pm, but it would be untrue. Most weeks Sunday meant dried-out, flavourless roast beef, which I despised. Sorry, Mom. Other - very special - weeks, it meant cabbage rolls. I love cabbage rolls. I miss them terribly in my veganism. I also miss my mother, who lives many hours away these days.
My mother hates vegetables. To this day, I'm fairly certain the only green thing I've ever seen her eat is my grandmother's Christmas jello salad. I don't count the cabbage in her cabbage rolls because by the time she was done with it, it was cow-flavoured and greyish. Still though, I loved cabbage roll Sundays.
Mom would mix ground beef with onion powder, roll it into microwaved leaves of cabbage, cover it with spaghetti sauce, and throw it in the oven to forget about for a couple hours. This may not sound particularly magical or even delicious to you, but what got me the most was the time that I got to spend in the kitchen with my mother on those days. When I got old enough to cook, I'd help her roll them. It helped that my sister hated cabbage rolls and that any time spent making them was just between my Mom and I. Dad was always just watching football, he never cooked. I do think he recently mastered toast, though.
I am an impatient person. 8-year-old me must have made my mother just as impatient, I'd imagine. As such, I could never wait for the cabbage rolls to be done. My mother, anticipating this, would throw any leftover ingredients that wouldn't fit in the roasting pan into a soup pot on the stove. I would eat this an hour or two before dinner and my mother would get some peace from me asking for dinner. That's where this recipe comes from. It's comforting not only because it's hot, filling, and easy, but also because it makes me think of time that I'd never admit I appreciated as a child. It reminds me of home.
1 head cabbage, largely chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 large can tomato juice
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup canned or jarred spaghetti sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
2 or 3 tablespoons sugar (to cut the bitterness of the canned tomatoes)
*You'll notice this soup doesn't call for any salt. This is because the canned tomatoes already have enough to brine your mailman (or woman).
Cabbage can take forever to cook if you don't go about it the right way. My mother solved this problem by throwing the whole head into a microwave for a few minutes before assembling the rolls; I solve it by sauteeing and then steaming the cabbage for a few minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients. I suggest doing this too - it cuts down on cooking time.
- Sautee onion and cabbage over medium heat until cabbage just starts to turn transparent around the edges.
- Add a cup or two of water and let boil/steam for about 5 minutes, until it's still fairly crisp but no longer raw.
- Add tomatoes, juice, sauce, and spices, and simmer on medium-low until the cabbage is soft and the flavours have melded. You'll want to add the sugar midway through so that it has some time to mellow out.
I eat giant bowlfuls of this for nearly a week after I make a big pot of it. I tend to double the recipe. Possibly the best part of this soup is that it contains an incredibly low amount of calories and tons of fibre. For something so not-bad for you to have this much flavour is surprising to me for some reason.