Classic Soupe aux Choux (cabbage and pork soup)
This is a classic French version of the cabbage soup ( soupe aux choux ). Fresh cabbages are blanched, sliced and cook with smoked pork belly and chicken stock. The chunky pieces of cabbage and smoked pork belly really give that cabbage soup its character. You can use water instead of stock to make the cabbage soup if you like. However it is important to note that the intensity of the taste will suffer. I really recommended you use homemade chicken stock to get the fully hearty flavours. The soupe au choux ( cabbage soup) is one of the most iconic French soup there is and makes a return when cabbages are in season and the temperature outside gets colder. on a side note “la Soupe au choux” (The cabbage soup) is an equally famous French comedy movie with louis de funes that has made that soup even more popular all over France.
- 1 medium size cabbage ( savoy or white cabbage)
- 2 liters of homemade chicken stock or water
- 300 grams of smoked pork belly
- 1 medium size carrot
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves
- 2 litres / 8 cups of clear chicken stock ( or 2 liters of water)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- 4 slices of Bread (oven toasted and cut in chunks )
- optional 200 grams of grated cheese ( I used Gruyere cheese)
To make the chicken stock use this recipe
- Tear off the outer leave of the cabbage until you are left with the core ( meaning no more cabbage leaves can be detached easily) when done rinse your cabbage under cold running water.
- cut the cabbage in 4 quarters and trim off the base of the stem.
- Slice the smoked pork belly in square or rectangle around 1 cm (half an inch) thick.
- cut the carrot in a rough “mirepoix” ( medium size cubes or chunks)
- cut the onion in half and prick 3 cloves on one of the half and cut the other in 2 quarters
- Blanched the cabbage : place the cabbage quarters in a stock pot filled with cold water with an addition of 2 pinch of rock salt. bring to the boil. as soon as the water start to boil, turn the heat of and rinse your cabbages under running cold water.
- slice the cabbage: remove the hard part of the stem of each cabbage quarter (as shown in the video) when done slice roughly each quarter and reserve.
- start the soup: place a stock pot on the stove under medium heat. add the butter and let it melt. next add the carrot and the 2 quarters onion. leave to sweat for 20 to 30 seconds. Add then half of the cabbage mix well and leave to cook for 2 minutes. after 2 minutes add teh pork belly slices in as well as the other half of onion with teh cloves. top up with the rest of the and leave as is ( don’t mix everything together)
- add the chicken stock or water: you can make this soup with either water or homemade clear chicken stock. However , this soup will taste better if you use chicken stock instead of water( trust me I have tried both version)
- cover partly the stock pot ( leave a small opening for the steam to come out) and leave to cook for 1h 30 minutes ( You can cook the soup for a slightly shorter time if you like your cabbage with a bit of a bite to it)
- when cooked slice some sourdough bread and toast it in the oven until golden brown.
- if you use cheese grate the cheese just before serving.
Serving the soup:
This soup has to be served really warm, in deep (warm) plates. In each plate, serve a good amount of cabbage and 2 pieces of pork belly per person. Once the soup is served place a bowl or plate with the toasted bread pieces and the grated cheese ( optional) in the middle of the table so that people can help themselves. The bread is placed on the top of the soup and has be totally soaked in before eating it, but I guess it is a personal preference.
Watch the step by step video tutorial: