Saturday, September 17, 2005

S'chee Whiz!

Though technically it's still summer, it feels very fall-like today with cooler temperatures, a lingering dampness in the air after a misty rain, and dreary skies.

Good thing I made a pot of vegetable stock this morning, because I suddenly got a craving for soup for dinner.

But what kind of soup? Looking over my vegetable selection, I chose the tomatoes from my garden, the potatoes and cabbage from last week's market, and the carrots from this morning because I decided to make s'chee, a classic Russian cabbage soup.

Now, the recipe I have for this soup calls for beef broth, and that's something I don't keep around my vegetarian kitchen. So I looked up my trusty vegetarian French onion soup recipe and followed it to add a couple of extra herbs and spice to the sauteeing onions, as well as some tamari to the vegetable stock.

After the soup had simmered nearly an hour, my mouth began to water at the savory fragrance escaping the kitchen. I ladled some s'chee into one of my pottery bowls, added a dollop of drained nonfat yogurt on top, and tucked in.

And before you could say "Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name," my bowl was empty. The broth was so satisfyingly rich and hearty, and the vegetables were so flavorful and tender, that I couldn't help but slurp it all down.

Cabbage soup never had great appeal for me before. But this -- this I could eat night after night, I think. At least for a few nights.

Lucky for me, I've got two more quarts in the refrigerator.

Lucky for you, I'm sharing the recipe.

S'chee (Russian Cabbage Soup)

The original recipe, from Betty Crocker's International Cookbook, is decidedly not vegetarian. This makes a very satisfying replacement.

1 onion, chopped
2 T olive oil or butter
1/4 tsp ground dry mustard
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 qt vegetable stock
1/4 c tamari
2 very small cabbages, shredded (about 3-4 c.)
2 carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions in oil in Dutch oven until tender. Add mustard and thyme, stirring until browned.

Add stock, tamari, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and celery. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover pot and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Serve in earthy pottery bowls, top each serving with a dollop of sour cream or drained nonfat yogurt, and listen to some Russian music. It's good for your soul.

Serves 6 to 8

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