On Sunday afternoon I reluctantly made a stock after a luncheon that left us with the remains of two chicken carcasses. We were running low on vegetables, so all I had to contribute was the stems and leaves from some fennel and the fibrous green tops of two leeks. This wasn’t your standard chicken stock “by the book”, with mirepoix and bouquet garni, but isn’t that the whole point of a stock—to make something out of the nothing?
Two nights later, when it came time to make a soup, we were still vegetable deficient. Besides the two bald leeks (which I was saving so Stephanie could make a tarte aux poireaux), all we had in the fridge was my longtime veggie box nemesis: the cabbage. With it I was determined to make my first ever cabbage soup. Using the chicken stock as a base at first seemed wildly innovative until I discovered: that’s how cabbage soup is made!
Half a head of chopped cabbage went into the pot with some olive oil, followed by 3 cloves of coarsely chopped garlic, 3 leftover roasted chicken wings, a drumstick, a middling handful of leftover roasted veggies—carrots, potatoes, and some bits of shallot and fennel, and some fresh rosemary. Once everyone had a chance to mingle, in went the stock, and I left my cabbage soup to simmer. When the meat was falling off the bone 2-3 hours later, I decided to bulk it up with half a bag of rotini pasta.
Maybe it’s because it’s been such a long time since I made a chicken soup, or maybe its because my past chicken soups have been such epic, from-scratch affairs, but this cabbage soup has got to be one of the best chicken soups I’ve ever made. And it was all the more amazing considering it came together out of so little, so spontaneously, on a Tuesday night.