On the news the other day, I heard that the Cabbage Soup Diet was once again regaining popularity. It was now, according to the reporter, called the Scared Hearts Diet. Even though I have never personally tried the actual diet, I used to enjoy the delicious vegetable soup that was the basis for the cabbage soup diet.
Since my family has been trying to eat healthier, and perhaps because it has been so chilly this January, the thought of a huge pot of vegetable soup simmering on the stove was so enticing that I immediately began a fruitless search for my copy of the original recipe in my bulging file cabinet. Next I succumbed to what I hoped would be a quick internet search. Much to my surprise, my search returned over a million references to the cabbage soup diet.
A brief scan of over 20 websites left me with a variety of recipes, including some that contained chicken noodle soup! In addition, most of the recipes I viewed contained bullion cubes or onion soup mix or perhaps both as the broth base. I guess my tastes have changed over the last few decades because both those items disappeared from my pantry about the time my cassette player became obsolete!
My Cajun version of the cabbage soup recipe is full of delicious, low calorie, good-for-you vegetables, flavorful broth, and Cajun spices! I further depart from the online recipes I found by first saut�ing the vegetables until they are just al dente in a heavy iron skillet with a whisper of olive oil. This additional step really brings out the flavor of the fresh vegetables. Of course you can delete this step entirely and simply put the raw vegetables a stock pot, add the broth, and cook everything together until al dente.
Please note that I am not qualified to recommend any �diet� plan to anyone and have personally never followed the Cabbage Soup Diet. However, �reports� on the news say you can lose weight if you follow the diet plan! I merely enjoy the soup and like that it is low in calories and includes so many of the vegetables that I enjoy eating.
This recipe makes a big pot of soup.
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 medium yellow crook neck squash, sliced
1 head cabbage, chopped*
28 ounce can of tomatoes, chopped if whole or in strips or use crushed tomatoes
48 ounces of good quality vegetable broth or a combination of vegetable and chicken broth**
1 � 2 teaspoons Basic Chicken Seasoning, or to taste
1 � 2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste (if using Cajun seasoning that contains salt, go light on any additional salt)
Bayou Blend or other Cajun seasoning blend to taste***
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped****
Wipe the bottom of a heavy skillet with the tiniest amount possible of olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the first 3 vegetables (the Trinity) to the heated skillet and saut� until just tender; remove from skillet and set aside. If necessary, wipe the skillet with a whisper of olive oil and add the carrots. Saut� for a few minutes, then add the squash, cooking until just tender; add to reserved Trinity. Pour about a cup of broth into the hot skillet and deglaze; transfer the liquid to the stockpot.
Add the remaining broth**, canned tomatoes, and seasonings to the stock pot. Heat until the liquid just begins to form a boil; turn down heat to low and add cabbage. Simmer until the cabbage is just tender, add the reserved vegetables and the fresh parsley, heat through and serve.
This basic recipe is easy to vary. If you are not following the diet, then feel free to add cubed chicken, pasta, rice, potatoes or many other vegetables you like to this soup. You can also seasoning the soup any way you like.
*Sometimes the cabbage bothers my stomach so I often omit it.
**I used the following for my broth: 4 cups good quality (boxed) natural vegetable broth + 2 cups good quality (boxed) natural chicken broth + 2 cups water.
***Bayou Blend is a delicious salt free Cajun style seasoning. It is available from The Posh Gourmet
****Many other fresh or dried herbs would also be delicious in this recipe as would fresh minced garlic. Try adding some thyme, oregano, and/or sage.