Sunday, 24 November 2013

Seminar Wine Soup, or Preparing for a Foreign Thanksgiving

Late antique letter-writers had a dictum that a letter should not have more than a single subject, lest the lack of focus detract from the letter's quality. This post has two subjects, but they are hopefully interrelated enough to escape Sidonius Apollinaris' ire.

Like he even ever wrote about cabbage soup anyway.

Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Today is the Sunday before Thanksgiving and on Thursday at 7:30pm, after early medieval seminar, I hosting a meal for about fifteen people. That has meant several constraints:

1) Everything but the turkey has to be done before I leave at 4:40pm, from which follows
2) I am not allowed to make every dish on the menu
3) The turkey has to cook during the seminar

Yesterday I made a document called Thanksgiving Battle Plan, which is already altering in the face of contact with the enemy...since rather than the turkey crown I was planning to make, I went and bought a whole medium turkey (God bless Aldi. And yes, I thought about the large one but then realized it wouldn't fit in my fridge. The buck has to stop somewhere.) My plan is divided into: nibbles (spiced maple pecans); bread basket (two kinds, may go down to just one), salads (carrot salad and dump-green-leaves-in-a-bowl-and-make-dressing), stuffing (gonna get a housemate to put that in the oven), turkey, and two kinds of pie. I'm going to adapt a friend's rum and spice pumpkin pie to be vegan (cross your fingers for that one) and I'll be making my signature cranberry apple pie, because last Christmas I froze some cranberries and I can. Whoot!

This is still an insane amount of work so today I am making what will be my lunches and dinners for the week, which brings us to Seminar Wine Soup.

What do you do when the convenor goes round the room asking all the grad students if they want the opened, unfinished, bottle of white wine? Me, I wait to see if anyone else has strong wishes to claim it, and then I grab it, because I keep white wine on hand for cooking, and getting it free is always excellent.

One of the things I made with the wine is cabbage soup. I've been trying to love cabbage since I moved to England, and I won't say I've succeeded yet. But this is a start, and it's what is going to keep me going this week while I (try to) finish off an article and cook a big dinner for medievalists and friends.

Seminar Wine Soup

(from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Brother Victor-Antonie d'Avila-Latourrette. He calls this Caldo Verde, Portuguese Cabbage Soup)

I imagine this would be excellent with some chorizo but I haven't tried that yet.

1/2c olive oil
3 onions, chopped
4-6 potatoes
1 small cabbage (I use Savoy)
8c water (or to cover the veg--I don't usually measure) + a veggie boullion cube or two
1c white wine 
salt and pepper as needed

Chop the onions and put the olive oil in a soup pot (you will need your largest one; the cabbage takes up a lot of space). Add onions. While those are cooking, keep an eye on them, and chop your cabbage. Peel the potatoes.

Add the cabbage to the pot and chop the potatoes. Then add the potatoes, and over them pour water to cover. (You can add chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes if you wish. I do.) Pour in your seminar wine. Add salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil.

Once it's at a boil. reduce the heat, cover it, and simmer for around forty-five minutes. Check to see if it needs more salt and pepper.

Turn off the heat and let the soup cool a little. Enjoy!

Makes 6 servings

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