I love herbs. They’re tiny and yet can completely take over the flavor of a dish- totally badass. What’s that Shakespeare quote that the “tiny” girl at your high school had on her myspace page? Though she is but little blah blah blah fierce? That quote belongs to herbs. One reason I wish I had more (or any) friends who enjoyed cooking is so that I could ask them their favorite herbs and get into a lively herb conversation. I have asked the question to some of my friends, regardless of their not really being into cooking and have received responses ranging from marijuana to nutmeg. Despite my intense love for almost all herbs, my answer, by far, is dill. I am obsessed with dill, and many of the foods it is usually associated with: lox, cucumbers, egg and tuna salads. One of my favorite lunches is cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese and dill. So when I found a cabbage soup recipe flavored with dill and caraway, I had to try it.
While I usually peruse recipes across various food blogs, blind as to the site itself and the author (sad, but true – ain’t nobody got time for that), I recently took some time to scan my bookmarked recipes and check the icons next to a few of my favorite recipes for similarities, thinking it might be prudent to pull recipes straight from the source. I found that Alexandra Stafford’s blog, Alexandra’s Kitchen is where I discovered my favorite pizza recipe, zucchini anchovy, and that it was one of the only blog recipe articles which I actually enjoyed reading. The pizza is bonkers delicious and her writing is interesting, informative, and relatable. She also writes for Food52, and her blog is where I found the recipe for this soup, and at her suggestion, a bread recipe to accompany it.
The bread was as easy as promised. Her recipe makes two loafs in slightly smaller size pyrex bowls than the one I own. So I made one loaf with slightly more than half the dough, and split the remainder into 9 dinner rolls, using her thyme dinner rolls recipe for guidance.
The soup recipe also features another of my favorites and IMO a very underutilized flavor: caraway. If you’ve ever had an everything bagel or TJ’s everything crackers (heart eyes emoji), you’ve had caraway. I learned from Alexandra’s post that it’s in the same family as dill… that’s a stacked family.
The recipe also includes cream. Something I’ve noticed after cooking for myself for about 2 years is that I really don’t need or like the quantities of butter, oil, and salt in a lot of the food I eat which I haven’t cooked myself, and even significantly cut down the amounts called for in many recipes I make. And I’m not saying it in that “ugh this is so heavy” but secretly love it way. I just have gotten better at really tasting food (though there’s a long way to go there), and some restaurants’ food tastes like straight up butter to me now, in a straight up bad way. I don’t buy heavy cream, and if a recipe calls for it, depending on the recipe, I either sub milk curdled by lemon juice, or just milk, and it works out almost all of the time. All that said, many people expect that soups be creamy, so I get why the cream was included, but I think I would have been happier with a vinegar and broth-based soup, flavored by dill and caraway. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t quite what I wanted. Dairy is a bit of a flavor-killer sometimes, and this was one of those times.
The bread was good and the confidence boost from making pretty good bread my first try was also good. Nothing like spending a Saturday evening smiling smugly to yourself with a mouth full of peasant bread. We ate some by itself or with just butter, which I haven’t done in a while. I am working on being a more mindful eater, and the simple flavors and textures of fresh bread with butter and a sprinkle of salt was a perfect opportunity. Baking the loaf in a bowl makes it a good size to slice as sandwich bread, so much of it went to that throughout the week, and I will definitely be making it again. And again and again, because I did buy a bulk package of instant yeast on Amazon…