German-Style Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage Soup
This soup would be fantastic with grilled cheese sandwiches: Make them with Swiss or extra-sharp white cheddar cheese on pumpernickel or whole-grain bread.
- 1 tablespoon EVOO
- 6 slices good-quality smoky bacon, chopped or very thinly sliced across
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 1 Braeburn, Northern Spy, or other firm, slightly tart apple, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway or cumin seeds
- 1 small head (1 1/2 pounds) red cabbage, quartered and very thinly sliced
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Spice bundle: 5 or 6 juniper berries, 3 or 4 whole cloves, 2 fresh bay leaves, a strip of orange zest, and 1 small cinnamon stick tied in cheesecloth or in a loose-tea teabag
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 2 rounded tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 6 cups chicken stock
- Kosher salt
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the EVOO (1 turn of the pan) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook to crisp. Transfer to a plate, draining off some fat if you have more than enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pot.
Add the onion, carrot, apple, and caraway and stir a few minutes to soften the onion. Add the cabbage and season with pepper and a few grates of nutmeg. Partially cover and cook to wilt the cabbage. Stir the spice bundle into the cabbage. Add the vinegar (keeping your head back from the hot pot), brown sugar, and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cabbage is very tender and soup has thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Stir the bacon back in, then adjust the salt to your taste.
Make-ahead: Cool and refrigerate.
Night of: Return the soup to room temp before reheating gently over medium heat.
Serve in shallow bowls.