Cabbage Soup with Preserved Goose

Garbure du Béarn

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Servings:

    4

Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

In cookbooks of the ninteenth century, garbures are panades; thick soups, the body of which is often but not necessarily that of cabbage, baked with alternating layers of dried bread, producing something akin to a moist pudding containing no remainder of loose liquid. The only garbures retained in today’s kitchens are those of the southwest; thick cabbage soups (to underline the importance of their consistency, it is said that a wooden spoon or a ladle thrust into the soup should stand erectly), which, although served over dried bread crusts, are not genuine panades. Garbures may contain little else than a piece of salt pork and some potatoes, but that baptized béarnaise, containing preserved goose and made, preferably, in the spring of the year, when a selection of tender young vegetables abounds, has a rich suavity unknown to the others. Preserved goose finds its two most celebrated roles in this garbure and a cassoulet. A variety of small, green-leafed cabbage, the heads of which are elongated, loosely formed, and picked before maturity, is shredded and added directly to the soup. This cabbage is not found on the American market and it is best to first parboil other cabbages. Replacing the white beans in the following recipe, tender but fully developed broad (fave) beans, shelled and individually peeled (each bean measuring a short inch at the widest part, the flesh still clear green and easily pierced beneath a somewhat leathery skin) lend a particularly sumptuous quality that is enhanced by the presence of savory in the bouquet. A couple of handsful of freshly shelled tender peas, added at the same time as the goose, are always welcome. A finely chopped mixture of fresh pork fat, garlic, and parsley is often stirred in at this time also; its value, I think, is more real in the absence of preserved goose.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cabbage (about 2 pounds), preferably of a green, crinkly-leafed variety
  • Salt
  • 10 ounces carrots, peeled, split (if core is woody, pry it out and discard it), finely sliced
  • 10 ounces tender, crisp turnips, thickly peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 large, sweet onion, halved and finely sliced
  • 1 large leek (6 to 7 ounces), white part finely sliced crosswise, greens added to bouquet
  • 3 tablespoons goose fat (from the preserved goose)
  • Bouquet garni: celery branch, leek greens, bay leaf, parsley (plus root), large bouquet of thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried, tied in sachet)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • A scant 2 quarts of water
  • 1 pound (unshelled) fresh white beans (or 1 cup dried “Great Northern” beans: If the beans are fresh, add them directly, freshly shelled; dried beans should be washed, immersed largely in cold water, brought slowly to a boil, drained, covered again in cold water, brought again to a boil, and simmered, unsalted, covered, with carrot, onion, thyme, and bay leaf until tender, but intact—1½ to 2 hours)
  • 12 ounces potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 12 ounces pumpkin or other “winter” squash, seeded, peeled, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • The legs and the split breast of a preserved goose (or, for a family dinner, neck, feet, back pieces, etc.)
  • Slices of dried bread

Method

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, split it, vertically, into quarters, cut out the core, remove as many of the ribs as you can easily get at, shred it coarsely, and parboil it in a large container of salted, boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain well, pressing gently.

If possible, use a 5- or 6-quart earthenware vessel (protected from the direct flame by an asbestos pad)—a deep marmite, Boston bean pot, etc. Lacking that, a large, enameled ironware casserole will do. Gently stew the carrots, turnips, onion, and leek in the goose fat, stirring regularly, for about 15 minutes, add the drained cabbage, continue cooking and stirring for another 10 minutes, add the bouquet and the seasonings (salt lightly—the preserved goose will add to the saltiness), pour over the boiling water, add the beans (without their cooking liquid, if dried and precooked), the potatoes, and the squash and cook, uncovered, at a light boil for about 40 minutes, adding a bit of boiling water if necessary, scraping the bottom from time to time with a wooden spoon to be certain that nothing is sticking. Push the pieces of goose (with only a bit of the goose fat clinging) into the soup, seeing to it that they are completely submerged, and continue to cook for another ½ hour. Lift off any fat from the surface and serve from the cooking vessel, over dried slices of bread (rye bread is good in this instance), either serving, first, only a bit of broth or, immediately after soaking up the bread with a ladle of broth, placing a quarter of goose on top, surrounded by a couple of ladles of vegetables.