Monday, March 15, 2010

cabbage soup on a smoked turkey drumstick

another soup that wafts memories of home and childhood. my mom made it often, with or without meat, smoked or not, but always tomato-based. this is the soup i ate on the evening of my first culinary disaster. or rather, couldn't eat because anything remotely sour was too raw on my wounded taste buds. it was a few days after the beginning of first grade. mom was at work. i got home from school, and even though i had prepared food in the fridge, i wanted fried eggs. so i cracked two in a pan, and fried them over easy, still in my uniform. then i seasoned them with salt and pepper. i got a napkin out - one of the 'good' ones, which i wasn't supposed to use - and wanting to be fancy through and through, i used another condiment on the eggs. quite a bit of it, and it was white vinegar. i swear it hurt to even smell the stuff for years afterward. i chucked the foul dish, pushing back the guilt of wasting food, put back the unused napkin, and went to diligently pursue homework in lieu of penance.

even now i only use white vinegar for cleaning and for the rare poached egg. for cooking i have red, rice and champagne vinegars that i find less aggresive. happier memories are tied with this soup, too, like the time we made it out of scraps leftover from canning cabbage-stuffed peppers all day long, and that we ate at 1 am after a couple hours of board games. bad puns were made about me being as sour as the soup. (i lost every single game, what are the odds?! and to be gracious about it? hardly in my least i admit to being a sore loser, which my mom will never do, even though she's worse than i am.)

turkey legs did not exist in my childhood, that is a new addition, and i think an improvement. this is a far better choice than any smoked ham hock i could find, and i'm sure i'll come up with other uses, we loved this meat! so first you bring the leg to boil and then add root vegetables - carrots, parsley root, celery, and onion, a couple bay leaves, a few sprigs of thyme, and simmer until the meat is easy to pull apart with a fork, about 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of your drumstick. in the meantime finely chop a cabbage of decent size. when the meat is ready take everything out using a spider and throw the cabbage in the broth. discard the vegetables and pull the meat from the bone, cut it bite-size and put it back in the pot. slice a couple carrots and add them to the cabbage. simmer gently for another 10 minutes, then add 6 to 8 oz tomato sauce/juice and 1 tb tomato paste. simmer 5 minutes more. correct seasoning, add 3 tb chopped dill and a squeeze of lemon juice and turn off the heat. serve with sour cream and hearty bread.

zhara loved it and had it for lunch on three consecutive days. i usually don't make soup in industrial quantities, but that was one big leg, so i had to pull out the big pot, and didn't have the sense to freeze half the stock for another use. so even with a portion sent to the neighbors, and my husband's appetite at the ready, the soup lasted three days. not a bad thing if you have a crowd - the turkey leg was $3.50, the cabbage $1.20, so the whole thing costs about $7 to make.


  1. Dana ce mi-ai facut pofta :) si mamica ne facea ...
    te pup si pe curand ,,

  2. Perfect. Homely, comforting, reassuring, toddler friendly. And such good value too!

    We make something similar, but different, and serendipitously, I've been writing about it today! :)

  3. Arata bestial! Trebuie sa incerc si eu cu picior de curcan, sper sa gasesc in RO afumat! Oricum am sa incerc in viitorul apropiat sa afum niste carne de curcan. Multumesc pentru inspiratie Dana!

  4. I relate to your first cooking disaster. Mine was similar. I tried to make scrambled eggs with about a gallon of Worcestershire sauce. Ugh. I couldn't eat the stuff for years.

    I adore any kind of cabbage soup I can get. The use of a smoked turkey leg is brilliant.

  5. yummy soup.. sour cream makes it so delicious..

  6. I love using smoked turkey legs in soups. I'm always amazed at how much meat there is one one leg. This soup sounds really, really good!

  7. karen, that's so true - i even cut 4 slices off it to use in a pot of stuffed cabbage, and it was still more than enough meat on it!!

    thank you uma!

    anne, that's funny! worchestershire sauce is relatively new to me, only heard about it after moving to the us; had i known it back then, i'm sure i would've found a way to screw something up with it!

    andrei, sper sa gasesti, e foarte multe carne pe un os, poti chiar sa-l imparti intre doua mancaruri, si ffff gustos!

    celia, ditto. serendipity is the word of the day.

    anca, mersi, pupici!


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