Garbures and Potees comprise a whole spectrum of dishes from south west France made from cabbage, from main course soups (Garbures) like this one to meaty braises much like the northern choucroute garni, but made with fresh cabbages rather than pickled sauerkraut (Potees). They show that even in the depths of winter you can make delicious, healthy, satisfying and comforting dishes straight from the garden and store cupboard.
Nothing could be simpler than making a Garbure. You just take a selection of winter vegetables, with the absolute minimum of preparation, add a few spices, a bit of bacon or salt pork belly, add water, and boil for at least half an hour (I always use the pressure cooker, 10-15 minutes).
INGREDIENTS (for 2)
Half a head of cabbage, cut into wedges held together by the stalk. The fresher the cabbage the better, as fresh cabbage is sweet and imparts this sweetness to the broth. In less freshly picked cabbages the sugars turn starchy and this sweetness fades, and the leaves take on a cardboardy texture, but you can usually find cabbages in the supermarkets that are quite good enough for garbure if you don’t have them in your garden. Savoy cabbages are ideal but the one used here was a January King, or what the slugs had left of one.
1 Leek, trimmed and halved,
2 Onions, peeled and studded with cloves,
2 Carrots, peeled, whole
2 potatoes, quartered, no need to peel
2 cloves garlic (flattened with the side of a knife, skins removed, whole)
2 rashers streaky bacon or pancetta (better if you can get it as it’s more aromatic)
a sprinkle of dried chilli
salt and pepper
about a pint of water
That’s it, it couldn’t be easier, it’s almost impossible to go wrong, and you will be astonished at the depth of flavour in the broth, a great deal of which actually comes from the cabbage itself.