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Cabbage soup a potpourri of flavors

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Let's begin by saying that we thoroughly enjoyed today's recipe -- a wonderful mixture of cabbage, sweet Italian sausage and beans. Throw in beef stock, bits of tomato, onion, garlic and olive oil, and you have a hearty flavorful stew-like soup.


But it's the sweet sausage that turns this soup into something special. Having said this, we confess that we made a few adjustments.

The first ingredient item that caught our eye was pork rind. What is pork rind? We weren't exactly sure, but the butcher at McGinnis Sisters Specialty Food Store explained that it's pork skin, though the store didn't have any (we probably wouldn't have used it anyway).

Instead we used a pork hock (the lower portion of the animal's leg). The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons canned tomatoes, but we used 1/3 cup and froze the remaining tomatoes. The recipe called for only 2 tablespoons of pancetta (Italian bacon), which was hardly worth the drive to the store, so we ordered 1/4 pound, using about half of the remaining pancetta for omelets. Our final change was replacing 2 tablespoons onion with 1 small chopped onion.

Did we mention that the soup is purple? The red cabbage is the culprit. If you can get past the color, we know you'll love red cabbage soup with Italian sausage.

This soup recipe, sent by Sandra Smerilli of Monessen, is a good cold-weather dish.

Red Cabbage Soup with Italian Sweet Sausage

1 pork hock
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion (we used 1 very small onion)
About 3 to 4 slices pancetta, sliced thin
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound red cabbage, coarsely shredded
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup canned Italian tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped Pinch thyme
3 cups homemade beef broth or 1 cup canned beef broth mixed with 2 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
1 cup dried beans, cooked and drained, or 20-ounce can cannellini beans or any white bean
Flavored oil, recipe below, optional

Place the 1/4 cup oil, garlic, onion and pancetta in a stockpot. Saute over medium heat until the onion and garlic are lightly colored. Add the cabbage, celery, tomatoes and thyme. Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until the cabbage has wilted.

When cabbage is soft, add the broth, pork hock, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and cook at low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove soup from heat while cooking the sausage.

Cut sausage in 1/4-inch pieces. Place in pan and cook until done. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon; place on paper towels. Return soup to low heat and add the sausage. Puree half of the beans; add to the pot. Add remaining beans. Simmer for 10 minutes before serving or add the flavored oil to the soup and simmer for 15 minutes before serving.

Flavored oil

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary leaves

Saute oil and garlic until garlic is lightly brown. Add rosemary. Remove from heat and stir two or three times. Pour the oil over a sieve into the soup pot.


Sandra S. Heller of Knoxville writes: "My mother made a chocolate rice pudding when I was a child and I loved it. She was one who never had a recipe for anything, so of course when she passed away, so did the rice pudding. I was wondering if anyone might have a recipe?"

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood/city/borough/township and state and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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