It’s Monday, a day, in my world, for clearing out the fridge and using up whatever is in there and this is my favourite way to do that so far this year. Once again it comes from Diana Henry’s Roast Figs Sugar Snow and, though I feel like I should apologise for posting one of her recipes two weeks in a row, well, I’m not going to. I have a five-recipe rule for buying a cookbook: if it has five recipes in it that I want then I will buy it. And this has ten times that number. I think it’s the best book ever for this time of year and every time I leaf through it I find something else to make. I truly urge you to get a copy as soon as you can, or in readiness for next winter. It makes staying in, keeping warm, and not spending much an absolute joy.
I particularly love the fact that the recipes are so straightforward. Like this, which I have already made twice. Essentially it is a form of thick cabbage soup which may sound a lot less enticing than Zuppa alla Valpelleunenze but it’s not. The only ingredient used that you might not have, or be able to buy locally is Fontina cheese, but Taleggio (which is all I could get) is a perfect replacement. Though I am sure there are restaurants where they charge many a quid for this, this is a great way to turn Cinderella ingredients into food fit for a princess.
Zuppa alla Valpelleunenze
(adapted from Roast Figs Sugar Snow)
Makes enough for 2-3
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
garlic, 2 cloves
good bread, 175g
chicken stock, 750ml
grated Parmesan, 1 tbsp
salt and pepper
Fontina or Taleggio, 150g
green cabbage, 300g
1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/140ºC fan-assisted/gas 2½.
2. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Melt half of the butter in a large, lidded ovenproof casserole dish over a lowish heat and add the garlic. Cook until just transparent, not coloured.
3. Whilst the garlic is softening, chop the bread into small chunks, thinly slice the Fontina and heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan.
4. Once the garlic is soft, layer the bread and Fontina on top of it, toss gently and season.
5. Pour the chicken stock over the top, cover and put in the oven for about 35 minutes. It will look something like this after that.
6. Meanwhile, trim and shred the cabbage (remove and discard the hard stalk if necessary), melt the rest of the butter in another lidded saucepan, add the cabbage and a little water. Season with a little salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring it every now and then.
7. Remove the casserole from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to 180ºC/160ºC fan-assisted/gas 4.
8. Add the cabbage and Parmesan to the bread and cheese, cover and return to the oven for about another 10 minutes. The zuppa is done when it is bubbling and hot. Serve immediately.