This peasant soup was taught to me by an old lady who has been cooking it for longer than I’ve been alive. Packed full of white beans, corn and black cabbage, it’s meant to be rustic, so I didn’t change it much – just a little polish here and there. I have to admit, though, that the addition of the chicken dumplings really brought the dish to a whole new level.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 60 g butter
- 35 g (¼ cup) hazelnuts roasted, peeled, coarsely crushed
- 1 tbsp red pul biber (Aleppo pepper)
- 1 lemon, zested
Black cabbage and white bean soup
- 100 g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
- 40 g butter
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 corn cob, kernels removed
- 50 g tomato paste
- 100 g fine cornmeal
- 1 bunch cavolo nero (black cabbage), leaves only, washed and shredded
- sea salt, to taste
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 400 ml natural yoghurt
- 400 ml water
- 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
- 3 eggs
- 180 g plain flour
- 20 g baking powder
- 60 g sugar
- pinch of sea salt
- 330 g polenta
- 180 g corn bread, crumbled
- 180 g chicken mince
- 1 egg white
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- pinch of red pul biber (Aleppo pepper)
- sea salt, to taste
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
To make the soup, place the drained beans in a large saucepan of cold water and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until nearly tender. Drain well.
Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and corn, and cook for 6-7 minutes or until translucent. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine well, then add the drained beans, cornmeal and 2 litres of water and stir until well combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes or until thickened. Add the black cabbage and stir until wilted, then add the lemon juice and season to taste.
Meanwhile, to make the corn bread, preheat oven to 160˚C. Line a 20 x 30 cm baking tin with baking paper. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the yoghurt, water, olive oil and eggs until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt, and mix on low speed until just combined. With the motor running, slowly add the polenta and mix until smooth - the batter will be quite wet. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool.
To make the dumplings, combine all the ingredients in a bowl, then shape the mixture into small balls about the size of an unshelled walnut. Carefully drop the dumplings into a large saucepan of just simmering water and poach for 3-5 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Just before serving, heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the hazelnuts and cook, shaking the pan, for 2-3 minutes or until lightly toasted. Add the poached dumplings, pul biber and lemon zest and cook for another 2-3 minutes, spooning the butter over the dumplings until golden all over.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, top with the chicken dumplings and hazelnuts, then spoon over a little butter mixture from the pan.
• The cornbread recipe makes more than you need, but it’s handy to have on hand and freezes well. Coarsely crumble and store in ziplock bags in the freezer for up to 3 months.