1.04.2014

Dutch Oven Goodness

Happy New Year! I think you should all know that one of the most fun parts of writing this blog for me (other than knowing you all are reading) is that I learn so much in the process.

Today, I made a favorite baked soup recipe and used my Dutch oven. In the process, I wondered, 'Why do they call it a Dutch oven?' After all, I am sure ours is not Dutch at all.

Naturally, I consulted with Markipedia, but (gasp) he had no answer for me, even though he has been to Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale, which figure prominently in the Dutch Oven’s history. I then went to his cousin, Wikipedia, and found my answer.

"During the late 17th century, the Dutch system of producing these cast metal cooking vessels was more advanced than the English system. The Dutch used dry sand to make their molds, giving their pots a smoother surface. Consequently, metal cooking vessels produced in the Netherlands were imported into Britain. In 1704, an Englishman named Abraham Darby decided to go to the Netherlands to observe the Dutch system for making these cooking vessels. Four years later, back in England, Darby patented a casting procedure similar to the Dutch process and began to produce cast-metal cooking vessels [in Coalbrookdale] for Britain and her new American colonies. The use of the term “Dutch oven” has endured for over 300 years, since at least 1710." (Wikipedia)

These days, many lidded pots (including our Copco pot) are called Dutch ovens, even though they don't replicate the original design, with short little legs on the bottom for standing over embers, and a raised lip on the lid for covering the lid with embers, for baking with both bottom and top heat.

We use our Dutch oven for many things - this no-knead bread recipe, and many soups and stews. Today's soup works especially well in this size pan. You don't want too large a pot, as you need some depth for layering.

This recipe is one of those non-recipes that we got from La Cucina Italiana many years ago. I say "non-recipe" because it had some basic instructions (with pictures) but no real measurements or specifics. It is a folk recipe, pretty traditional in several regions of Italy, and like most folk recipes you add "some of this, and some of that..."

Cabbages: I have tried it with different cabbages, but have decided that Savoy is my favorite kind. Napa also work, but doesn't hold up as well. I haven't tried Brussels sprouts yet, but I think they would be too strong.

Cheeses: I use Gruyère and Fontina, but you could use any good melting cheeses -Swiss, havarti (dill havarti would be good!), Monterey Jack, etc.

Meats: pancetta and prosciutto were my choices for meat in this soup, but regular bacon, and sliced ham could work. Note that the smokiness of American bacon will really change the flavor - not necessarily a bad thing. Vegetarians can, of course, substitute tempeh or tofu.

Bread: the bread needs to be really hearty. Don't trust your run-of-the-mill grocery store to have an appropriate bread. Use one that is really dense and won't turn to mush when the broth is added. Stout and dark German breads are perfect for this soup.

Broth: I used a light chicken broth, but the choice is yours - chicken, beef, veal, or vegetable. The important thing is to use low-sodium broth because there is so much salt in the meats and cheeses. Too much salt will spoil your soup.

So, that's it: one of our absolute favorite winter dishes, to be enjoyed on a cold night or gray afternoon in front of a crackling fire. As with many of my recipes, it is simple, authentic, and flavorful.

Enjoy!

~ David

Baked Cabbage Soup

1/2 cup diced pancetta
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chopped Savoy cabbage (1/2 a large head)
4-6 slices (3/4-inch thick) very hard multigrain bread
4 slices prosciutto, torn
4 ounces Gruyère, sliced in strips
4 ounces Fontina, sliced in strips
4 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a Dutch oven, sauté the pancetta in olive oil until it is slightly crisp. Add the chopped cabbage and sauté until wilted. Remove cabbage and pancetta from pot and set aside.

Cut as many slices of bread as you need to cover the bottom of the Dutch oven. Toast them well and line the bottom of the pot with them. You may need to cut them onto odd-shaped pieces to fit well.

Add cabbage and pancetta back to the pot on top of bread. Divide torn pieces of prosciutto over top, then cover with the strips of Gruyère and Fontina cheeses.

Pour chicken stock over top and bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake for 20 minutes more.

Serve immediately.

Makes 4 main course servings.

36 comments:

  1. OMG--With a foot of snow and temps barely over ten degrees, this soup looks divine! Also a very interesting culinary tidbit about Dutch ovens!

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    1. I was thinking of you as I posted this morning, Susan! I knew this would appeal! See what you have in the fridge and have some Dutch Oven Fun!

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    2. Okay, we just made it...AND it is one of the best soups I have ever had....without exaggeration! Thanks you for passing your recipe along!

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    3. I am so glad you liked it, Susan! As you know from Mark, this is one of our all-time favorites! Perfect for the weather you have been having!

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  2. Hi David! I did not know all that about the Dutch ovens, interesting read. This soup looks amazing but I'm going to have get the supplies before I can make it. It would've been nice today, it's snowing and cold. BTW, when does your email go out? I haven't been receiving it and only know you've posted when you comment on mine or on FB. I'll try subscribing again. Take care!!

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    1. Hi Nazneen - the emails go out on Sunday but the posts go love on Saturday at 7:00am my time. This soup could easily be made with GF bread, too. The firmer the bread, the better! Saw your post about the snow... glad it is warm here! :) We are having your pomegranate Chicken kebabs tomorrow night!

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  3. Wow. This looks like one mighty soup. One that requires a knife and fork! I think I need to try this one, in my not-so-Dutch oven from Aldi!

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    1. John - this is a knife, fork AND spoon soup! We almost miss cold weather in the winters here, as we don't have his as often as we did when we lived in Maine!

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  4. How positively delicious! This looks like a Hungarian dish too... though the one we make is not so much a soup. Interesting post, many thanks!

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    1. Thanks, Liz! I am very curious about the Hungarian dish you mention - do you have a specific name for it? I would love to try it!

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  5. First of all, I want to get my hands on an original dutch oven, with feet and dented top! And then I want to eat this soup, while chatting next to the fire... It's like a french onion soup but so unique, and better if you say so, ja! I love gruyere and fontina together, they're so easy to get here, so I use them all the time. The Markipedia comment cracked me up.

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    1. Haha - it is often VERY convenient to have Mark around! You might want to wait till the weather down there cools off before making this - definitely a winter dish!

      Dutch ovens are readily available here from Amazon, LL Bean, REI and other sporting goods places. Here is the link to Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-L12DCO3-Pre-Seasoned-Cast-Iron-8-Quart/dp/B00008GKDW/ref=sr_1_6?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1388954255&sr=1-6

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  6. I am forwarding this to my husband. He is the designated soup maker in our family. This looks delicious!

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    1. I hope you like it, Kirsten - the weather is certainly right for it!

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  7. Baked soup!
    Love it. I'll eat my cabbage now.
    Guess what's for dinner to- night?!

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    1. Colette - this is one of the very few ways I like to eat cabbage! And I bought another cabbage at the market this morning so I could make it Wednesday for supper!

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  8. This sounds divine (even with our warm weather)! Just happen to have a nice chunk of pancetta left from some vodka cream sauce I made. Going to get the rest of the ingredients and dinner tomorrow is set - YUM!

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    1. Peg - for us, it doesn't matter how warm it is - we love this soup all the time! I hope you enjoy it!

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  9. Happy New Year David! What a great winter recipe this is - it looks delicious. Can't wait to read more of your posts in 2014, and I'm going to work on persuading you over to Tassie for a visit. It's just been named as THE Foodie destination of the year by Epicurious - http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/blogs/editor/2014/01/2014-food-predictions.html :) xx

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    1. Ruth - how wonderfully cool that you have moved to a foodie haven. We really do want to get down there, so we will start configuring a plan! As so many of my readers are "down under," I think it will be a couple of months before this soup debuts on anyone's table. But it will be worth the wait!

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  10. Ha, Markipedia! Love it! But not as much as I love the sound of this gorgeous baked, layered soup... I've never heard of such a thing. My life will never be the same David! Love the combination of cabbage with bacon so I can imagine how beautiful this seasoned, cheesy soup would be. As soon as the weather cools down, this will be on our menu! xx

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    1. Thanks, Laura - as I just said to Ruth, it will be worth the wait to put this on your table. Just as I will look forward to a square of your peach and blueberry slice in a few months! xox

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  11. What a bowlful of yummy goodness! I always learn something from reading your blog, too!

    I notice that leCreuset calls theirs "French Ovens." Now I get it.

    Enjoy your day!

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    1. Haha - the French have overtaken the Dutch? Not sure about that! :)

      I hope you and John try this soup when you have a chilly day - we are having it again tonight for dinner!

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  12. This is one of the most delicious looking recipes I've ever seen. Really. YUM! I want it for dinner!

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    1. Thanks, Valentina - we are having it tonight for dinner. You should come on over! (Wish it wasn't an 8-hour drive...)

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  13. Ah David you are an information geek like me - I always have to know the origins of food, recipes etc. Maybe I can borrow Markipedia to give me the answers I seek :) This recipe is taking hearty soup to a whole new level and as soon as temperatures cool somewhere below melting point in Queensland I will be trying it out. I hope you and Mark enjoyed your New Year!

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    1. Markipedia is ready and willing to help whenever he is able! Actually, both Mark and I are info geeks - it is so much fun! Just had a batch of soup and it was so good. Tried a different bread (not our fav) but it was still nice and hearty! Happy New Year to you and Mr. LG

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  14. The soup sounds hearty and warming and I love your Copco pot. Which size is it?

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    1. Thanks - I would have to say the pot is somewhere between 6-8 quarts. As I didn't buy it, I am not sure.

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    2. I'd like to find one of my own. Does it say anything underneath? D3 or D4?

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    3. It is a D3 - I never noticed that on the bottom before!

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    4. Yes, I believe the D3 is the 4 quart size. It's nice to know it's big enough for 4 servings of soup. That is exactly the size I'm looking to purchase. Thanks for your help!

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    5. My pleasure - this is good to know! It looks a little bigger than my 4-quart All Clad pot, but that makes sense.

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  15. a warm,hearty and beautiful post...we love reading your blog...it is so good to learn such amazing recipes here,thanks for sharing...HAVE A VERY VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! :-)

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    1. Thanks, Rakesh and Swikruti! You are so kind. Happy New Year to you both, as well!

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