I’m going to try to post my favorite recipe each week that uses ingredients from our CSA farm box. Several of my friends and I have a friendly competition going on who can best use the ingredients in our weekly haul. Sometimes, like this week when one is faced with a head of cabbage, things get challenging. In the past I’ve deployed the cabbage in kimchi and roasted tomatillo slaw…
But this week, my friend Katie—another CSA junkie—shared this great Basque recipe for Cabbage and White Bean Soup from Gourmet, circa 2004. It is pure smoky, bacon-y goodness. I spent a total of $6.16 on ham hocks at Huntington Meats in the Original Farmers Market, and I had everything else on hand, including a bag of Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman Beans. My husband was kind of bummed out when he heard we were having soup for dinner, until he laid eyes on the ham hocks. Ladies, let me tell you, there’s nothing like a ham hock to spark a little excitement on a Tuesday night…
Cabbage & White Bean Soup
1 cup dried white beans such as Great Northern, navy, or cannellini (7 oz), picked over and rinsed
1 whole clove
1 medium onion, peeled and left whole
2 1/2 lb smoked ham hocks
3 qt water
6 fresh parsley sprigs
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold (3 to 4 medium)
1 lb cabbage, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (6 cups)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
Thickly sliced bread, grilled (optional)
Soak beans in cold water to cover by 2 inches at room temperature at least 8 hours. Drain in a colander.
Stick clove into onion. Bring ham hocks and 3 quarts water to a boil in a wide 6- to 7-quart heavy pot, skimming off any froth, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Add beans, onion, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, and garlic and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beans are almost tender, 40 to 50 minutes.
When beans are almost done, peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add potatoes and cabbage to beans, then simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove ham hocks. When ham hocks are cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones, then cut meat into bite-size pieces. Stir into soup with salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf and onion. Serve with grilled bread.