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Spanish-French cabbage soup from Majorca

Posted by Sheryl Julian  October 21, 2013 09:53 PM

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The new book, "Elizabeth David on Vegetables," compiled by Jill Norman, with recipes from the well-regarded British cookery writer, has many interesting things, including this Mayorquina, from the Mediterranean island of Majorca. The soup is little besides cabbage, tomatoes, and leeks, which simmer with water for a couple of hours.

It's peasant cooking at its best, with characteristics of both the French and Spanish kitchens, writes Norman. It might have cooked in an earthenware marmite. At one time the soup would have been poured into a tureen over slices of dark bread. Today, says Norman, you can put the bread in individual bowls and ladle in the soup. For a bowl that costs a few cents, the flavors are wonderful.

Someone overheard me recently going on and on about the wonderful Elizabeth David (1913-1992). Who is Elizabeth David? she asked.

"God," I answered.


(Cabbage soup from Majorca)

Serves 6


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, sliced

1 Spanish onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

Salt and black pepper

2 plum tomatoes, peeled and sliced

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced

3 quarts hot water, or more if needed

1 small whole cabbage, coarsely chopped

Few sprigs fresh thyme

1 whole clove

1 bay leaf

Extra olive oil (for serving)

Extra fresh thyme (for garnish)


1. In a soup pot, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil. Cook the leeks, onion, garlic, salt, and black pepper, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until soft but not brown.

2. Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes.

3. Slow add the hot water and bring to a boil. Add the cabbage, thyme sprigs, clove, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Set on the cover askew. Cook the soup, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the cabbage has almost melted.

4. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Ladle the soup over slices of whole-wheat bread into bowls. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from “Elizabeth David on Vegetables”



About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.


Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

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