Shuna introduced me to this soup. I think it was July 2007 and she’d gathered a bunch of food bloggers at Veselka, a Ukranian diner in the East Village famous for serving awesome beer-blotting food like borsht, stuffed cabbage and pierogis around the clock. It was hot and humid out, however, so the thought of anything besides a grilled kielbasa, pickles and a cold beer seemed insane, and yet there was our host, ordering cabbage soup.
I thought this Eggbeater was insane. Who eats soup in the summer? But Shuna insisted I try at least a spoonful, and that sip did me in. I spent the rest of July craving move and finally caved in August, sitting in that cafe eating steaming hot soup on a steaming hot day because it was the best thing, ever.
This is no flat but earnest cabbage soup. It is cooked with a mix of chicken broth and cubes of fatty pork, then not just cabbage, but sauerkraut and then extra “juice” at the end to punch it up. It’s the kind of thing you’d eat every day of the shivery winter, if Veselka weren’t a cruel 1.7 miles across and then downtown, which feels even longer the colder it gets.
So you can imagine how out of my mind overjoyed I was when New York Magazine ran Veselka’s recipe for cabbage soup — that cabbage soup — a couple weeks ago. And although I considered not posting today at all — on this last day of November — just to be a punk, the fact is, this is what we had for dinner and I aim to share. You know, right before I take a nap for all of December.
One year ago: Fennel Ice Cream
Veselka’s Cabbage Soup
Courtesy of NYMag
Serves 6 to 8
1 pound pork butt, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
4 cups water
3 allspice berries
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 cup sauerkraut, plus around 4 tablespoons juice
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, minced
3 stalks celery, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 cups fresh cabbage, shredded thin
Place the pork in a medium stockpot with the chicken stock, water, allspice, bay leaves, and marjoram. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for about 2 hours. Remove the pork and set aside on a plate to cool. Skim fat from stock, leaving a few “eyes” of fat for flavor.
Add sauerkraut and simmer for 20 minutes. Add potato and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and cabbage and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pork and simmer for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add sauerkraut juice.
Note: This recipe got some fresh photos in 2021, thank goodness.