The Soup Blog
Recipes, Culinary Insights & Humor Spooned Up Fresh Every Week…………………(Now in its Ice Cream Phase)
Free Association Ain’t Free: Beer, Brats & Cabbage Soup
Categories: Beef, Cabbage, Dairy-free, Pork

Sigmund Freud Meet Corporate America; Corporate America: Sigmund Freud

I saw a cabbage in the store today.

Sorry if that sounds like a bad Emily Dickinson parody.  That’s just how this week’s soup got started. I began with a head of red cabbage and proceeded to free associate.  It wasn’t the most direct route to a wonderful entrée, but c’est la vie.  Actually das ist Leben would be more accurate.

Moving on.

Cabbage. Rabbits eat them.  Rabbits are cute and cuddly.  Rabbits have big brown eyes.  Rabbits are delicious? No, that doesn’t work.

Americans won’t eat rabbits.  Laurie Ochoa, the food editor at the Los Angeles Times called it the “Bambi effect.” We can’t eat something that cute.  Chickens, pigs, cows, no problem.  But Thumper?  Uh-uh.

I tried again.  Cabbage.  Sauerkraut.  Susie serves it with caraway seeds. It’s fabulous.  Much better.

I chopped up a whole head of cabbage.  Added it to the stock.  Put in seasonings and two tablespoons of caraway seeds and simmered for half an hour.

Well, it looked good on paper.  Sadly, when you simmer caraway seeds in stock, the seeds lose that fresh rye bread taste they’re so famous for and fall into a lingering bitterness.  And while I can relate, I’m not about to serve it to my friends and family.

Take three.

Cabbage. German food. Bratwurst. Beer. Mustard. Summertime.  Yeah, that’s the one. I hoped.

Not so sure of myself anymore, I got heads of green and red cabbage and shredded both of them in my cuisinart.  Since my wife’s a huge slaw advocate, I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone and reduce waste too.  Throwing out a whole pot of soup definitely had me counting my pennies.

Next I roasted several bratwurst in the oven (Yes, I should have used the grill but since the grill is outside, it’s makes multitasking a bit difficult.), sliced them up, put them and the green cabbage in some stock, added mustard and a cup of German style lager.

I went with the green cabbage because it has a more summery flavor to me.  That and I was still clinging to the possibilities of sauerkraut. The lager was just a whim.  As I poured it in, the strong yeasty smell of it made me think I should have used a darker beer, but the fresh taste of the lager complemented the cabbage perfectly and brightened up the soup considerably.

The result was incredibly good. The fat from the bratwurst lent a wonderful richness to the soup’s broth, giving it a consistency like liquid velvet.  Easily the Soup Blog’s best broth to date.

We ate it out on the patio and the girls all loved it, the eldest, the one who hates bratwurst, even had seconds.  It was a perfect lead-in to their first drive-in movie experience.  Unfortunately that experience wasn’t so perfect.  Something about having to go to the bathroom and setting off the car alarm…

Take four.

FYI:  To make terrific best bloody marys (maries?), use aquavit, a caraway flavored spirit, instead of vodka.  It tastes like a New York deli.

Beer, Brats & Cabbage Soup
(serves 6-8)
4 bratwurst
4 cups green cabbage, shredded
6 cups stock
1 t mustard (I used Dijon)
1 cup good beer (I used a German-style lager)
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Roast four bratwurst in the oven at 350° (do I have to say Fahrenheit?) for 30-40 minutes, remove from the oven and slice.
  2. Shred a head of cabbage in a food processor (use the grater blade), save the extra cabbage for coleslaw.
  3. Add cabbage, brats, mustard, beer, and seasoning to stock.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or longer.
  4. That’s all.
  5. We served this soup with grilled chicken and coleslaw (naturally) out on the patio.

Image Credit: An MBA’s impression of free association, with an emphasis on the bottom line.

The Soup Blog draws a line from Asia last week to Germany this week, an axis not seen for many a decade.  Unlike then, these results are wunderbar.  Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you.  Ich werde lesen und antworten.

6 Comments to “Free Association Ain’t Free: Beer, Brats & Cabbage Soup”

  1. Michael Larsen says:

    Who is Susie?

    Weird about the rabbits. From looking through the ephemera on James Lileks’ site, it’s clear that rabbit was as common as chicken in supermarket coolers up through the 1950’s. I’d eat rabbit. Hell, I’d eat kittens. Cute or not, I can maintain the cognitive disassociation necessary to separate pet from food chain link.

    • pcandres says:

      I’d eat rabbits too. I have eaten them. They’re better than chicken and potentially as plentiful. Maybe in these trying times we should all make a move away from anthopomorphizing the bunny and back toward eating it. Yum.

      Oh, and Susie is Caroline’s cousin’s wife, makes great kraut

  2. Jame says:

    Hi Phil,
    Your blog this week had me laughing out loud (I know that should be written ‘lol’, nowadays, but whatever) – several times, in fact. Your entries are so clever and sharp! You keep posting soups that are particularly appealing to me… Earlier this year, just before school let out, I went to a barbecue at Natural Bridges park, and I cooked some fake (read “soy”) bratwurst. They were not quite as delicious as the original (from memory), but were still very tasty, and I’d been thinking about getting them again. You’ve given me the perfect opportunity. Thank you (again).

    (Kittens? Hmmm…)

    • pcandres says:

      Thanks, Jame. Glad you liked the blog. I look forward to hearing about the soy brats and how they translate into the cabbage soup.

  3. james says:

    I knew you’d think of a creative, and good, way to work beer into the soup. Will give it a try.

    And please, no eating of kittens; and no kitten soup!

    • pcandres says:

      Thanks, James. There are a lot more ways to introduce beer into a soup. As many ways as there are varieties of beer. Oh, and don’t worry about kitten soup, or dogs or goldfish, guinea pigs, hamsters, etc. What do you think this is pet soup? I hope you’re well.

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