Savoy Cabbage Soup with Grünkern. Okay, this soup is not going to sell itself. But let me say this… if any cabbage soup is going to satisfy your hopes for a tasty cabbage soup, this could be the one. Although it’s undeniably healthy, this soup is not to be confused with the famous cabbage soup diet. There’s nothing sacrificial about this soup. It has rich, deep flavors and some smokiness thanks to Grünkern – a pleasant surprise for a vegetarian cabbage soup. Hearty, nourishing, and warming, this is something to be enjoyed during the winter months – simple, tasty, warming comfort food.
Cabbage is one of those vegetables that has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the years. It’s a super-healthy, budget-friendly and at sometimes can be considered…. BORING. But it doesn’t have to be! There are so many terrific ways to enjoy it raw or cooked. My favorite way of course is shredded in a salad. Perhaps this is the North American influence of coleslaw as a typical BBQ side dish. My absolute favorite is a cabbage salad with tahini-lemon dressing. And although I usually enjoy it raw, I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy it warm in a slow-cooked soup. My favorite Schwabe loved this, as it’s reminiscent of German cabbage soup (but without the bacon).
Toasted Grünkern adds richness to this savoy cabbage soup
Because the Grünkern is toasted, it brings out even more of its smoky flavor. In turn, it tastes as if the broth was made with a little smoked bacon, since it creates such a rich flavor. I won’t claim brilliance for this, as this recipe is an adaptation from Deb’s Cozy Cabbage and Farro Soup from the smitten kitchen, and her version adapted from the original in the cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables. The fact that it inspired me at all to make a cabbage soup (which I never thought I would ever do!) and bring me out of my own cooking comfort zone is why I thought I had to share. So if you are fan or cabbage, or simply willing to give cabbage a chance, here’s just the soup to do so.
Savoy Cabbage Soup with Grünkern
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 500 g shredded savoy cabbage (ca. 700 g head)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup uncooked Grünkern (175 g)
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (1,25 L)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Grated parmesan, as garnish
Trim the end and remove any wilted outer leaves from the cabbage. Place the cabbage on a chopping board and cut directly down through the middle of the head, then quarter the cabbage. Cut away the hard core and finely chop it (it will be cooked with the onions). Cut the leaves into fine shreds or thin ribbons. Wash well to remove any grits of soil.
Heat the butter in a large non-stick pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onion and chopped cabbage core, a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to soften but is not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the shredded cabbage leaves and thyme sprigs. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot and let it steam for 10 minutes, then toss the cabbage to combine with other ingredients. Continue to cook, covered, until the cabbage is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes longer. Stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium and add the dry Grünkern. Toast it, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Careful not to let it burn.
As soon as the cabbage is tender, stir in the vinegar, and add the toasted Grünkern and the broth. Increase heat, and bring the mixture to a light simmer and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until the Grünkern is tender. If needed, add another 1/2 cup (125 ml) broth or water to the soup. Remove the thyme sprig. Stir in lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, to taste. Feel free to add a splash more red vinegar, if desired.
Ladle into bowls and garnish each with grated parmesan.
- I used butter for a little extra richness, but olive oil can be used if desired.
- Grünkern is produced in Southern Germany, the closest thing to it elsewhere would be the middle eastern grain freekeh (or frikeh).
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