Once again, the garden provides inspiration! We grew several Savoy cabbages in the garden this year. This cabbage is just spectacular! I have made this soup several times, however, never with homegrown Savoy cabbage. I picked it from the garden moments before it went into the chicken stock…can’t get much fresher than that.
This recipe is so with the trouble and time. You will need to multi task to keep the prep time to a minimum. Please do not let the anchovies scare you they melt in the bacon fat or you can just skip them and add salt!
So here is what you will need
• 3 quarts good-quality chicken (I like College Inn BOLD in the brown box)
• 1 Savoy cabbage, stalks removed, outer leaves separated, washed and roughly chopped
• 2 big handfuls of kale, stalks removed, leaves washed roughly chopped
• About 16 slices stale Italian bread
• 1 clove garlic, peeled
• Olive oil
• 1 pound of bacon cut into lardons
• 1 (4-ounce) can anchovy fillets, in oil
• 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
• 7 ounces fontina cheese, grated
• 5 ounces freshly grated Parmesan, plus a little for serving
• Sea salt (if you are not using anchovies)
• Couple large knobs butter
• Small bunch fresh sage, leaves picked
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and add the cabbage and kale. Cook for a few minutes until softened (I did this in 2 batches). Remove the cabbage and kale to a large bowl, leaving the stock in the pan.
Toast all but 5 of the bread slices or in a toaster or on a cookie sheet in your oven, then rub them on 1 side with the garlic as they come out of the oven or toaster, and set aside.
Next, heat a large deep fry pan on the stovetop, start to fry your lardons of bacon (lardon is bacon cut into rectangular pieces) now add your anchovies. When the bacon is golden brown and sizzling add the anchovies. Once the anchovies are melted, add the rosemary and cooked cabbage and toss to coat the greens in all the lovely flavors. Put the mixture and all the juices back into the large bowl.
Place 4 of the toasted slices in the casserole-type dish, in 1 layer. Spread over 1/3 of the cabbage leaves, sprinkle over a 1/4 of the grated fontina and Parmesan and add a drizzle of olive oil. Repeat this twice, but don't stress if your pan's only big enough to take layers - that's fine. Just pour in all the juices remaining in the bowl and end with a layer of untoasted bread on top. Push down on the layers with your hands.
Pour the stock gently over the top until it just comes up to the top layer. Push down again and sprinkle over the remaining fontina and Parmesan. Add a good pinch of salt if you did not add the anchovies and drizzle over some good-quality olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for around 30 minutes, or until crispy and golden on top.
When the soup is ready, divide it between your bowls. Melt the butter in a frying pan and quickly fry the sage leaves until they're just crisp and the butter is lightly golden (not burned!). Spoon a bit of the flavored butter and sage leaves over the soup and add another grating of Parmesan. Such a great combo!
This is a great hearty dish for those crisp cool nights!
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