Eat: Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup
This incredibly easy bread soup from Jamie Oliver’s book, Jamie at Home, is all about celebrating the changing seasons and the king of winter veg- cabbage. It’s layered a little bit like a lasagne, with grilled bread and cabbage in stock, and as it cooks it plumps up like bread and butter pudding. I used swiss chard from my workshare, but it would also work great with kale or cavolo nero. This dish will make any guests happy on a crisp fall evening with a bottle of wine to help warm up.
Ingredients: 3 litres vegetable stock, 1 Savoy cabbage (stalks removed, outer leaves separated, washed and roughly chopped), 2 big handfuls of swiss chard (stalks removed, leaves washed and roughly chopped), about 16 slices of stale country-style or sourdough bread, 1 clove of garlic, unpeeled, cut in half, olive oil, 12–14 slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, 1 tin of anchovy fillets in oil, 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, 200g fontina cheese (grated), 150g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, a couple of large knobs of butter, a small bunch of fresh sage.
Directions: Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and add the cabbage and swiss chard. Cook for a few minutes until softened. Remove the cabbage to a large bowl, leaving the stock in the pan.
Toast all but 5 of the bread slices on a hot griddle pan or in a toaster, then rub them on one side with the garlic halves, and put to one side. Next, heat a large ovenproof casserole-type pan on the hob, pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil and add your pancetta and anchovies. When the pancetta’s golden brown and sizzling, add the rosemary and cooked cabbage and toss to coat the greens in all the flavors. Put the mixture and all the juices back into the large bowl.
Place 4 of the toasted slices in the casserole-type pan, in one layer. Spread over one third of the cabbage leaves, sprinkle over a quarter of the grated fontina and Parmesan, and add a drizzle of olive oil. Repeat this twice. Pour in all the juices remaining in the bowl and end with a layer of untoasted bread on top. Push down on the layers with your hands.
Pour the stock gently over the top till it just comes up to the top layer. Push down again and sprinkle over the remaining fontina and Parmesan. Add a good pinch of pepper and drizzle over some good-quality olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for around 30 minutes or until crispy and golden on top.
When the soup is ready, divide it between your bowls. Melt the butter in a frying pan and quickly fry the sage leaves until they’re just crisp and the butter is lightly golden. Spoon a bit of the flavored butter and sage leaves over the soup and add another grating of Parmesan.
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