This recipe began its life called cabbage soup. I don’t mind if you think “ yuck” because that’s what the original recipe deserved. Bland, depressing and a bit scary, I gave this unlikely soup the Simmons spin and it is now firmly in my repertoire of favorite soups reincarnated as Curried Vegetable Soup. Cabbage Soup, no more, although it does have cabbage as one of the ingredients.
The original recipe called for chopped cabbage and a few veggies simmered in fat free broth. Bland, insipid, a bit scary, I tried to fix what was left in the pot with a few low calorie flavor enhancers: fresh ginger and basil, grated orange zest, crushed garlic, a lump of tomato paste, and a squirt of lemon juice. It was beginning to show some hope.
Next rather than simmering the veggies in low fat broth, I threw caution to the wind and sautéed—or rather slowly sweated– the vegetables in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. A simple technique, it added a deep aromatic base to the broth, which is basically water added to the sweated veggies. No boxed broth need apply.
From here I kept tweaking the recipe trying to make it taste better and better. In a recent version—the best so far— I added a spoonful of Madras curry powder, a can of diced tomatoes, and a finely chopped jalapeno. Yum. What a difference. I especially like this curried version with a spoonful of plain nonfat yogurt to tame the heat of the jalapeno and a generous shower of chopped fresh cilantro. The orange and ginger are add delicious high notes. It is a really good soup.
Today as I zipped a pair of slacks that haven’t been comfortable in awhile, I remembered a quote from Sophia Loren, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” In my case, I owe my almost, but not quite, slim slacks to a slowly pot of Curried Vegetable Soup that started its sad life as a diet cabbage soup. It’s still low cal, but diet it’s not.
Curried Vegetable Soup
Be lazy here and chop the veggies in the food processor. This is delicious for breakfast with a poached egg floating on top. Add lots of chopped cilantro or dill, too. Or, serve it with a swirl of plain yogurt to tame the heat of the chiles.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 carrots, peeled, ¼ inch dice or coarse chop
- 3 celery stalks, trimmed, plus some leaves, 1/4 inch dice, or coarse chop
- 2 medium onions, 1/4 inch dice, or coarse chop
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, 1/4 inch dice or coarse chop (optional)
- 6 garlic cloves, bruised with side of knife and chopped
- 1 tablespoon Madras curry powder, or more to taste
- 2 strips orange zest, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 quart water, plus more as needed to thin soup
- 4 to 6 cups chopped Savoy or other cabbage
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
- 4 large basil leaves, 1 tablespoon chopped dill plus stems, or 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro plus stems
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
Garnish: Nonfat yogurt, thin sliced Serrano chiles and/or and finely chopped cilantro.
Makes 2 plus quarts or enough for at least 6 big bowls for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
1. Drizzle the oil in a large broad soup pot. Add the carrots, celery, onion, pepper and garlic. Cook, covered, over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and the onion is straw colored, about 15 minutes. Stir in the curry until blended; cook, 1 minute.
2. Add the water, cabbage, tomatoes, orange zest, ginger, salt and black pepper; heat to a boil. Add any or all of the ingredients listed under flavor enhancers. Cover and cook the soup over low heat 15 minutes. Taste and correct the seasonings adding more salt and pepper or curry and ginger to add more flavor, if desired.
3. Reheat it by the bowlful. Add a spoonful of yogurt, sliced Serrano and chopped cilantro before eating, if desired. (Add small amounts of additional water, as needed, as the week progresses and the liquid becomes depleted.).