Reubenesque Soup

This soup is a clever riff on the classic Reuben sandwich. The recipe contains cream (or milk if you prefer) which at first you might think weird with the sauerkraut but actually works. If the pairing of cream and sauerkraut is beyond your palate threshold, use all broth or stock. If you’re going to use raw sauerkraut, such as the one offered in the share, be sure to add it near the end, just to heat through. Don’t let the soup come to the boil at that point, or the enzymes and probiotics in the sauerkraut will be destroyed. Sub turkey or chicken for the beef, though keep the cheese in, for Reuben’s sake. To make rye croutons, cube rye bread, toss with some oil, salt, and pepper, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 -15 minutes at 350ºF. They’ll crisp up as they cool.

2 T butter or vegetable oil
1 c chopped onion
1 c total chopped roots, one type (such as celeriac) or a combination
2 T arrowroot, corn starch or flour
3 c beef or other broth, or vegetable stock
2 c milk or half-and-half, or use all broth or stock
1/2 lb sliced or chopped pastrami or corned beef
1 1/2 c sauerkraut, drained if you like
pepper, to taste
1 1/2 c shredded Swiss cheese or other good melting cheese
rye croutons, for garnish, optional (but keeps the Reuben tradition)

1. Melt butter or heat oil in a soup pot. Add onion and chopped roots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the arrowroot until the vegetables are coated. Gradually add the 3 c broth (or 5 c total if not using milk or cream). Bring to the boil, reduce heat some and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until the broth has thickened some.

2. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Add the milk or cream, the beef, sauerkraut, and pepper. Heat through without boiling. Stir in cheese until melted. Taste for seasonings. It may need salt, though pastrami, sauerkraut and cheese all contain salt, as well as store-bought broth.

3. Serve with rye croutons scattered over the soup, if you like.

The Winter Share for March 11, 12 and 13, 2014

We’re in that seasonal transition period when Winter and Spring are duking it out. Spring has had the upper hand these last few days, but Winter is not, it seems, down for the count yet.

Renewals for the Summer share are due March 15. That’s this week.

The Share: Beets (Chiogga, Detroit, Butter); Carrots; Celeriac; Kohlrabi; Potatoes; Black and Korean Radish; Sauerkraut; Apples.

The Recipes: Eastern European Beet Salad; Celeriac with Anchovies; Curried Carrots with Cashews; Skillet Beef and Winter Radish; Raclette Potatoes; Reubenesque Soup.

Enjoy! See you in June!


Stuffed Kohlrabi

This is an inventive take on stuffed peppers, using kohlrabi instead. I imagine you could use other roots, such as celeriac and large turnips as well. The filling recipe is simple to make and tasty, with Middle Eastern overtones (the original recipe called for goat), though you could use any stuffed pepper recipe–especially for vegetarian/vegan versions. After trying this, you may never look at a kohlrabi the same way again.

4 medium sized kohlrabi
1 T butter or vegetable oil
1 1/2 c diced yellow onion
3/4 lb ground beef, lamb, turkey, or chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander or (ground) fennel or whole caraway seeds
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground turmeric
1/4 t ground cayenne
1/2 t chili powder
salt, to taste
1 c chopped tomato, canned or fresh
water or broth, if needed
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
sour cream or yogurt for serving, optional

1. Peel kohlrabi. Slice the bottom of each so that they can sit without wobbling. Cut the top off each. Reserve tops. With a spoon or melon baller, scrape out the flesh inside the bulb to within a quarter inch of the outer shell. Try not to pierce the bottom. Reserve the scrapings. Combine tops and kohlrabi scrapings and finely chop. Set aside.

2. Either steam or boil the kohlrabi shells until just tender, when a fork can pierce the side. Remove and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Melt butter or heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add ground meat and garlic and sauté until browned throughout, breaking up any large pieces. Add the spices and salt, stirring well to coat with the meat mixture. Add the tomato and reserved, finely chopped kohlrabi. Cook for about 10 minutes, adding a bit of liquid if the mixture is too dry. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

4. Spoon filling into kohlrabi shells. Place on a rimmed baking sheet or other suitable baking vessel. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the kohlrabi and mixture are heated through. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, if you like.

Slow Braised Cabbage

Modern culinary wisdom decrees that cabbage should no longer be cooked for long periods of time. Those of us who grew up with the smell of cabbage permeating our homes during those bouts of cabbage cooking were thrilled by this edict. However, there are exceptions to almost every rule and this recipe is one of them. The cabbage here is oven braised for a good two hours, plus an additional browning period. Granted, this method is not the same as the submerged cabbage bubbling away on the stove top, and the smell is actually quite pleasant, even gustatory. This is a perfect dish for the long, cold winter we’re having.

1 medium head green or red cabbage, about 2 pounds
1 large yellow or red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
2 – 3 medium to large carrots, peeled if necessary and sliced
1/3 c broth, stock, white wine, or water, plus extra if needed
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 t caraway seeds
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 T red balsamic vinegar, optional (but really makes this dish)

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease a large casserole dish or baking pan, such as a 9″ x 13″ pan.

2. Trim cabbage, then cut in half. Cut each half into quarters, for a total of eight wedges. Leave the core intact, to retain the shape of the wedges. Place wedges in prepared baking dish, in a single layer if possible, or slightly overlapping. Scatter the onions wedges and carrot slices around the wedges. Pour the liquid and oil over all. Sprinkle caraway seeds and crushed red pepper flakes over. Season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil.

3. Place in oven and braise for an hour. Remove from oven, uncover, and turn vegetables over. Try to keep the wedges intact if you can, but don’t worry if they fall apart. This is more an aesthetic consideration. Add a bit more liquid if needed. Cover again and return pan to oven for another hour.

4. Check the cabbage again. If it’s tender enough for you, then raise the oven temperature to 400ºF. Drizzle, if you like, the balsamic vinegar over the cabbage and return to oven for about 15 more minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Potato Salad with Sauerkraut

This is the recipe to make for people who claim not to like raw sauerkraut and the recipe to make for people who love to eat raw sauerkraut. ‘Nuf said.

2 lbs or so potatoes
4 oz bacon, or use 2 T vegetable oil if not using bacon
1 c chopped onion
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 t brown sugar, optional (use for sauerkraut dislikers)
1 1/2 c sauerkraut, drained
black pepper, to taste
salt, if needed
fresh chopped parsley, for garnish, optional, but adds a nice dash of color

1. First you need to boil the potatoes. You can cut them into potato salad-sized pieces or just halve or quarter them, depending on their size. Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Boil until just tender. Drain, reserving about 1/2 c of the cooking liquid. (Save the rest for stock or other cooking purposes.) If necessary, further chop up the potatoes. Transfer to a serving bowl and cover to keep them warm.

2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove rashers and drain on a paper towel. Crumble and add to potatoes.

3. Drain bacon fat, leaving 2 T in the skillet. Sauté the onion until softened. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Stir in the vinegar, oil, and brown sugar, if using. It should come to the boil fairly quickly. Pour this over the potatoes and toss to coat. Add the sauerkraut, stirring to combine. Season with black pepper. If the mixture seems dry, add some of the reserved potato water. Taste and add more vinegar or oil if you think it’s needed. You may even want to add some salt. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.