Cabbage soup—Aosta Valley style
If you are in the Aosta Valley in the winter and visit a local restaurant or osteria, you may find this heartwarming and delicious soup on the menu. It is based on cabbage, and two wonderful products of the Aosta Valley: fontina cheese and Alpine butter.
800g savoy cabbage, cleaned and chopped
1½ litres chicken or vegetable stock
2 large thick slices of wholegrain bread
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
40g Alpine butter
300g fontina cheese, shredded or sliced
60g parmesan, freshly grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
60g unsalted butter
Put the cabbage into a pan with a little salt and the stock, and boil until soft and tender, about 15-20 mins. Remove the cabbage from the liquid, and put to one side to cool. Reserve the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the bread into big cubes. Heat the olive oil and the butter together in a frying pan, and fry the bread cubes for a few mins, until golden. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
In a large ovenproof dish, build layers of cabbage, bread cubes and Fontina cheese. Add some of the reserved cabbage cooking stock, which will penetrate to the bottom layer and soften the bread. Sprinkle this with some of the parmesan, then layer again until the ingredients have all been used up. Finish with the remainder of the stock.
When ready to bake, fry the garlic in a small frying pan in the butter until foaming, then pour on top of the cabbage.
Recipe: Antonio Carluccio
Image: Laura Edwards