Early March

It was dismal and grey the day I made this and it seemed only right to cook something warming and uplifting. If using a Bramley, like I did, a whole one may be too large. I used ¾ of the apple, and put the remaining quarter in my stuffed cabbage (see below).

Parsnip & Apple Soup with Ginger

1 onion, diced
Vegetable oil or butter, or both
3 small-med parsnips (about 500g), washed, peeled and diced
1 tart apple, cored, peeled and diced
Small piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 heaped tsp curry powder
1.25 litres stock: vegetable or chicken (or half stock, half water)
Sea salt
Greek yogurt (or crème fraiche or double cream), and coriander for serving, optional

Serves 4-6

In a large pot, heat about 1 tbsp oil and a small knob of butter (or more oil) until sizzling. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until just golden. Add the parsnips, apple, ginger and curry powder and toss to coat well. Cook for a few minutes more, until the spices become aromatic.

Add the liquid and season. How much salt depends on how seasoned your stock is. If unsure taste and season gently. You can always add more salt later if needed.

Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer until all tender, about 20-30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Blend the soup using the tools you’ve got. I use a hand held immersion mixer, but a food processor or blender will also do the trick. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Ladle into bowls and serve hot, with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped fresh coriander if desired.

Variation: For a more substantial soup, add 100g red lentils after adding the stock.

—–

The cabbage was the most inspiring thing in the box, for some reason, and I had loads of cabbage ideas. However this was the chosen one as it also gave a purpose to the swede, which was somehow less inspiring.  Other considerations were the lamb mince in the freezer from a previous box and the container of leftover rice in the fridge. I made this in the afternoon for our supper but it was decidedly better the following day.

Stuffed Cabbage

1 cabbage, white or Savoy
1 onion
1 swede (about 400g)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp oil, extra virgin olive or rapeseed
250 g lamb mince
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds
Apple quarter, peeled and grated (optional)
About 1 mugful of rice, cooked
600 ml (ish) tomato passatta
Sea salt and black pepper

Serves 4-6

Before you start, dry roast the cumin seeds by heating them, without any oil or anything, in a small skillet until they become aromatic and start ‘popping’. Set aside to cool, then grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

Remove the core from the cabbage. To blanch the leaves, put the cabbage in a large deep heatproof bowl that holds it well. Add boiling water to cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove from the water and peel away the leaves, one at a time, keeping them whole. The odd rip or tear is not too problematic. About halfway through, repeat the blanching process as the leaves closer to the middle do not blanch as well as the outer leaves. When the leaves become too small to reasonably stuff (about two-thirds through), stop. Finely chop the remaining cabbage and set aside.

Prepare the other veg: Finely chop the onion, set aside. Peel the swede and grate; set aside. Finely chop the garlic and set aside.

In a large shallow skillet with a lid (best to use the one you will simmer the cabbage rolls in), heat the oil. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add the cabbage and swede and cook for a few minutes more. Add the lamb, thyme, paprika and about half of the ground cumin. Cook until the meat is browned, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, season well with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute more.

Stir in the apple and rice. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more cumin, salt and pepper as liked. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly.

To fill the leaves, put a spoonful of the lamb mixture in a cabbage leaf, near the base end, and roll up to enclose the stuffing. Put in the pan, seam side down. Continue stuffing until all the leaves are filled. Miraculously, I had just the right amount of stuffing for the number of leaves I had; I did double up on a few of the smaller ones.

Pour the passatta over the rolls, season with salt and a pinch of the ground cumin if liked. The rolls should be submerged about two-thirds, so add water if necessary to raise the level. Cover and simmer very gently for 45-60 minutes. Serve warm.

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