This is a heavily-evolved version of Asparagus and White Bean Soup from Classic Spanish Cooking with Chef Ef. In essence, it’s a cabbage and potato soup (or stew) flavored with wine and bacon.
The dish is quite versatile and takes well to all sorts of vegetable additions. Last spring I added a cup of goatsmilk with the stock and made a sort of spring chowder, with young asparagus and peas as the featured vegetable. In the winter we make it as below, with plump scarlet runner beans from our summer garden that we have dried and saved for darker days.
3 slices bacon, diced
1 med onion, rough chopped
3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
3 tb cilantro or parsley, chopped
4 or 5 med waxy potatoes, diced
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
4 c chicken stock or other stock
1 c dry white wine
1/8–1/4 tsp dried chile flakes
3 c cooked beans
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp salt or to taste
1. Saute bacon over high heat in a large saute pan or soup pot. Stir constantly until it is well rendered and crisp. Add onions and cook in bacon fat until translucent. Then add garlic and fresh herbs and cook for a minute.
2. Stir in potatoes and cabbage. Cook on medium high heat for 3–5 minutes, allowing cabbage to wilt. Add stock, wine, and chile flakes. Stir well and bring to a full boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.
3. Add beans, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Cook uncovered at a simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot with crusty bread and a dry white wine.
–> As you might guess, quantities for vegetables, potatoes, beans, and so forth are variable according to preference and the contents of your kitchen. This is a good base recipe though.
–> Any vegetable in season can be added along with the beans, or partially or completely substituted for the beans. Try green beans, asparagus, peapods, or fresh green peas.
–> In darkest coldest winter, chorizo or ham can be added after the bacon is crisp. We made one version with incredibly spicy chorizo sausage and lots of cannellini beans. It was rich, dark, and exquisite.
–> This soup could be a fine vegetarian dish; replace the bacon with olive oil and the chicken stock with vegetable stock. Don’t omit the wine though.