Month of January: “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” Recipe: Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup

“I’ve always made a point of not wasting my life, and every time I come back here I know that all I’ve done is to waste my life.” Arthur Miller

Lately, I’ve been obsessing over the idea of wasted/wasting life and what it means to me personally. Abby’s death was the impetus behind this uncontrollable driving force I now find myself in. I wake up each day with a gnawing sense of urgency. Nothing seems more critical to me now than making the remainder of my days as meaningful as possible. Nothing seems more essential than getting clear as to what I want to be doing. Each day I open my eyes for the first time is an opportunity to get closer to figuring it out from here. Waste is unavoidable, I get that. I have to spend time working, doing laundry, grocery shopping, washing dishes and all those monotonous activities of daily life. There are chunks of my life that are completely forgotten because they were nothing more than routine with each day blending into the next. This is the human condition, so what?

What makes this feel different is the new understanding I have of myself. I rebelled in my early years, trying to make my way as an individual, resisting to be part of the family group only. I had other ideas. Emotional separation was threatening to my mother and its effect has come bump, bump, bumping along everywhere I traveled. It affected many decisions and choices I made along the way. It caused me to be careless with the preciousness of time because I wasn’t fully aware of the importance of listening to my inner voice. Somehow other people’s energies often threw me off course in a game of swirl and reaction. Now in hindsight I see things as they truly were and I am ready to break loose and explore this new frontier of listening.

So in the spirit of being aware of waste, I dug not only deep into my inner world, I also dug deep into my refrigerator, freezer and pantry. I found a green cabbage patiently waiting for me as well as stock and arborio rice. I took those things and instead of letting the cabbage shrivel and rot and the stock freezer burn and the rice grow stale…I transformed them into a glorious Venetian soup! Bellissimo!

Ingredients: green cabbage, meat or beef or vegetable stock, arborio rice, onion, garlic, olive oil, butter, parmigianno-reggiano grated cheese, salt, freshly ground pepper.

  1. Make the smothered (called Venetian style) cabbage. Finely shred the cabbage, do not use the core. Heat on medium heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a saute pan and add 1/2 cup chopped onion and saute until golden. Add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and give a quick stir. Add the cabbage and stir to coat, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of wine vinegar and stir until nicely coated with the oil. Cover with a tight sealing lid and allow to cook on low heat for 1.5 hours. The cabbage will caramelize into sweetness.
  2. Heat 3 cups of meat stock or beef stock or whatever stock you like. Bring to a boil. Add 2/3 cup Arborio rice and cook with lid off for about 20 minutes. When rice is done, add the cabbage and stir well. Before turning off heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/3 cup of parmigianno-reggiano cheese and stir. Taste and re-season. Ladle into bowls.

2 Replies to “Month of January: “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” Recipe: Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup”

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