Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cabbage Soup with Bacon and Caraway

A soup for every other Dark Days meal sounds about right to me. As I mentioned in my first Dark Days post, I do like to make soup.

Cabbage, bacon, and caraway soup before its final simmer.
The orange bits are rutabaga.
And why not? Soups are satisfying, simple to make, endlessly variable, and lend themselves well to my locally available ingredients.

This was, sadly, another almost local soup. I like to give soups quick flavor by starting with bacon, or sometimes sausage. There used to be a wider selection of local bacon and sausage at my co-op than there has been the last couple times I've shopped for them. This last time I had four options, bacon from Wisconsin that would have fit my broadest definition of local (we are very very close to Wisconsin) but had nitrites, non-local nitrite free bacon from far away, bison sausage from I know not where, and some apple chicken sausage from California. In the past I have been able to find bacon and/or sausage sourced within 50 - 100 miles of me.

I had to go with the nitrite free bacon option. I cannot say whether or not nitrites and nitrates are a food safety issue, but they give me migraines so I avoid them.

This was a weekend shopping trip so I couldn't speak with any buyers, but I will need to ask my co-op about this change ASAP. If I'm lucky, their past suppliers are still around and I can buy directly from them.

3/4 of a twelve ounce package of bacon, one medium onion, one rutabaga,
two turnips, a tablespoon whole caraway seed, and some dried jalapeno.
I deglazed this pan with a bit of water, added a medium cabbage, chopped,
one pint home canned tomato puree, and water to cover.This simmered
for about a half hour, until the cabbage was tender but not limp.
The rest of the soup, aside from the salt, pepper, and caraway seed, was local. The vegetables, which included cabbage, rutabaga, turnips, onion, canned tomato puree, and dried chile pepper were a collection from four different area gardens (including ours).

"Bacon Bits"
The highlight of the soup was the bacon crumbles I garnished it with. I used about 3/4 of the bacon for the soup itself. The remaining was chopped into bite sized pieces and fried with a generous pinch of whole caraway seed and a half a dried jalapeno pepper minced.


  1. You can always buy a hog from a 4-Her. Most people keep their bacon and sausage after they butcher a hog, but the last couple of years the Anttila kids have had theirs butchered after the auction and just sold it in various cuts because they couldn't get fair market price from bidders. Kolpacks usually have a fair selection of meats, but again, the bacon and sausages are always gone first. Venison sausage is usually something you can have made, but then you have to shoot a deer and be okay with whatever mixer pork you get with it.

  2. Thanks for the tips Jody. Silly me for not thinking of this. We get our beef from the Kolpacks but for some reason I had it in my head that I would need to go to a store for bacon and sausage. I'll have to ask around and see if anyone still has some. If nothing else, we're going to try our hand at making turkey sausage one of these days - we'll see how that goes.