FOR YEARS, MY children and I would grow a small vegetable garden. Since space is precious, most of the raised beds are reserved for my strawberries, raspberries, currants and rhubarb plants. We always try to make room for one special vegetable, though: cabbage. It grows so well in Alaska’s midnight sun and the kids have a great time watching it grow, watering, and keeping the slugs away. Then when harvest time comes, we always make this delicious cabbage soup.
We were inspired by the book, The Giant Cabbage: An Alaskan Folktale by Chèrie B. Stihler. It's about a moose that solicits help from all his critter friends to maneuver his giant cabbage to the Alaska State fair. At the end of the book is a recipe for cabbage soup. Over the years, we’ve tweaked it and made it our own. This week, the Alaska State Fair had it’s 17th annual cabbage weigh-off (138.25 lbs, a new world record!), so it seemed like the perfect time to break out our favorite Alaskan veggie.
I remember the first year we made cabbage soup. There’s so many different vegetables in it, I thought my kids would turn up their noses, but they dove right in, chopping veggies and adding them to the simmering pot on the stove. Even so, I was still skeptical that my carnivores would actually eat it. We presented it at the table with great fanfare - all of our hard work was right in front of us, ready to be eaten. Much to my surprise, they slurped it up and asked for seconds.
Now it’s become an annual tradition. This can be a truly Alaskan dish, as all the produce can be Alaska Grown. Most of the vegetables can be picked at Pyrah’s Pioneer Peak Farm in Palmer or at your local farmers market. I encourage you to allow your children to be a part of the entire process. Let them pick it, let them chop it, let them stir the pot. I hope it becomes a tradition in your house. You might be surprised, too, when your kids slurp up their veggies.
Feeds an army, so after you enjoy your meal, freeze the leftovers in gallon bags. We can get at least 3 meals out of this recipe. This recipe is very flexible. Feel free to add or take away any veggies to suit your family’s tastes.
In the biggest pot you can find (I use my 27 quart canning pot), melt the butter. Add the onions, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add 8 cups of stock. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir. If the liquid doesn’t cover the veggies, add additional stock to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½- 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning to taste. Top with grated fresh Parmesan cheese to serve.