Did you know that today is National Cabbage Day? With its long and rich history, this leafy vegetable certainly deserves its own holiday. So today we’re bringing you a recipe for a cabbage soup that will keep you warm through the end of winter. As well, we’ll explore the healing properties of this ancient and ubiquitous food.
Cabbage is believed to have originated in the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, but it is unclear as to how it made its way into Europe. One clue is in its name. It is a member of the Brassica family, which includes other veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale. The Latin “Brassica” was influenced by the Celtic word “bresic,” which means cabbage. It is for this reason some say the Celts were responsible for bringing cabbage to prominence as a food. The Celts began invading the Mediterranean around 600 BC, so it is probable that they picked cabbage up on their journeys and brought it with them throughout Europe. The other theory is that the Romans introduced cabbage to Europe.
Regardless of who ate it first, the Romans or the Celts, both civilizations loved the cabbage. The Romans used it not only for food, but also as a medicine. In fact, Cato believed the cabbage was superior to all other vegetables when used medicinally. He advised eating cabbage before and after a heavy night of drinking because it could help with hangovers. Caesar’s armies used it as a poultice on wounds to fight off infection. And of course, they loved to eat it. The Roman cookbook Apicius includes multiple recipes for cabbage dishes.
The Celts passed their love of cabbage down through generations and their Irish ancestors used it extensively. In fact, all across Europe it became a food of the common man. It was easy to grow, could survive the harsh temperatures of the Little Ice Age and was packed with nutrition. Throughout the Middle Ages, it sustained the poor and the peasants. Interestingly, the rich were suspicious of it, along with other vegetables, and even blamed the stalwart cabbage for the plague at one point. (A wholly baseless accusation and certainly a low blow by veggie haters.)
Eventually, cabbage solidified its place in the cuisines of multiple cultures. Today, it is an important ingredient in beloved recipes across the globe, including kimchi in Korea, sauerkraut in Germany and colcannon in Ireland. So, join the club and discover your own love for cabbage!
Recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 quarts of water
- 4 teaspoons of chicken bouillon granules
- 1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 head of cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can of Italian-style stewed tomatoes, drained and diced
- In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic; cook until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in water, bouillon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then stir in cabbage. Simmer until cabbage wilts, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes. Return to a boil, then simmer 15 to 30 minutes, stirring often.
 Of Cabbages and Celts | Archives | Aggie Horticulture. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/publications/vegetabletravelers/cabbage.html
 Cabbage: Its History, Uses And Culture. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/753/#b
 Real Food Right Now and How to Cook It: Cabbage. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://gracelinks.org/1896/real-food-right-now-and-how-to-cook-it-cabbage
 Cabbage: Its History, Uses and Culture.