Chicago winters are very unpredictable. One winter can be bitterly cold with little snow, another with lots of snow but no sub-zero temperatures. This year Chicagoans are experiencing both snow and bitter temperatures which makes it the worst winter ever! In fact, I was thinking about how I should describe this winter. Hmmm, snowmegeddon? frigidageddon? Nope, I will refer to this winter as the GEDDON out of Chicago as soon as possible winter!
I am sitting in my warm house slurping up some of my homemade sweet and sour cabbage soup watching the start of the Green Bay Packer’s playoff game. It is 7 degrees in Green Bay but, with the windchill, feels like -5. While I am a Chicago Bears’ fan (yes I still get that horrible nauseated feeling just thinking about last week’s game), the truth is, I had to see how many crazy fans actually went to the game and if the football would shatter into a million pieces with the opening kickoff. Surprisingly, there were a lot of crazy fans sitting out in the cold and the fall did not explode. Guess it’s time to turn off the game and put a movie in the dvd.
For my fellow cold Chicagoans and anyone else out there who loves a good hearty soup, here is my recipe for sweet and sour cabbage soup–enjoy!
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound stew meat cut into bite sized cubes
1 beef shank bone (if little meat on shank, add more stew meat)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium head of green cabbage, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 cups of water
1 tablespoon salt
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
½ teaspoon sour salt
½ cup sugar (may need more or less–depends on taste)
Pepper to taste
Sear meat and shank bone on all sides in vegetable oil over medium heat until it is nicely browned. Remove shank bone. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Slowly add ½ cup water and scrape off the meat bits (deglaze pan). After pan is deglazed, put shank bone back in pot, add the salt, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Now add 3½ cups of water or more to cover the meat.
Bring soup to a boil, cover pot, lower temperature and simmer for one hour. Skim fat. Add sour salt and start with 1/4 cup sugar, taste, readjust as needed. Add pepper to taste. Now place the cabbage in the pot and at least 4 cups of water or more to cover the cabbage. Bring soup to a boil, lower heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the cabbage is tender. Remove shank bone and cut the meat from shank into cubed pieces. Place meat back in soup. Adjust seasonings to taste.
This is a gluten-free soup recipe and can be made vegetarian too. To make it vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the water and omit the shank bone and beef. I also have used agave nectar, maple granulated sugar and Truvia as a refined sugar substitute. If using other types of sugar substitutes, the amount needed will vary so start adding these slowly. With the Truvia, a 1/2 cup sugar is equal to 3 1/2 TBS of Truvia. Enjoy!
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