Mama’s Lean Times Tomato Cabbage Soup

Note: This was originally posted on my yoga teaching website, www.nicolemarkyoga.net, in June 2012. I made a few edits to the recipe thanks to some experimentation in the kitchen. I wanted to re-post this because it’s a favorite, and because I’ve been cooking at home a lot more on a much tighter budget than I’ve worked with in a while. This nourishing meal will give you dinner for two plus lunch for at least two more days, and winter is a great time to enjoy a hearty soup.

For most of our childhoods, my brother, sister, and I had it really, really good. We lived in lovely homes in suburban Baltimore County, Maryland and Central Florida, traveled extensively and were loved dearly. Of the meals my dear Mother prepared at home, I never remember meeting one I didn’t like. (Some of you may be surprised to know–and some not at all surprised–that as a tot, my favorite meal was my Mom’s homemade, gourmet-as-any-restaurant boeuf bourguignon).

There were some lean times, financially speaking, that I never knew about until my early adulthood. ┬áDuring these times, my Mother kept us well-fed and blissfully ignorant of the family finances. One of my favorite meals she prepared then, and a real comfort food for me now, is this super-easy-to-make and super cheap tomato cabbage soup. Since I am experiencing some lean times of my own and I’m comforted by this nostalgic meal, I decided to make it. It’s the perfect meal for the person with every excuse not to cook: it’s fast, easy, cheap, tasty, and healthy. Vegan? Got you covered. Don’t use butter.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • One cabbage (I got a medium-sized local Florida one at Whole Foods Market last week, and it was more than enough)
  • One 64-ounce bottle V-8 or other vegetable juice cocktail
  • One 16-ounce bag mixed vegetables (I used 365 organic ones. There are a number of new frozen vegetable blends available now–I plan to experiment soon.)
  • Seasonings of your choice to taste (in the past, I’ve added fresh minced garlic, Mrs. Dash, and black pepper, but this week I tossed in just a teaspoon of red pepper flakes)
  • Butter (the good shit, like Kerrygold or another European butter) OR vegetable oil such as olive oil, canola oil, or whatever other vegetable oil you have on hand that won’t clash with the other flavors (sesame oil or coconut oil would probably not be good choices)
  • Parmesan, Romano, or a blend of the two cheeses for sprinkling atop your soup. (Don’t know the difference between the two? Here you go.)

Directions:

Boil salted water in a very large pot or Dutch oven situation. While the water is boiling, coarsely chop the cabbage. Toss the chopped cabbage into the boiling water and cook until tender (al dente-ish). Drain the cabbage.

In the same pot, heat the butter or oil in a soup-sized pot. Add garlic if using. Add chopped cabbage and toss for a few minutes. The idea here is to give the cabbage a little braised flavor. Pour in veg juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then add frozen veggies. Simmer until hot. Season to taste. Sprinkle with parmesan or romano if desired. Eat.