Cabbage, bread and cheese soup

Cabbage, bread and cheese soup

Real Food by Mike
Alan Benson

At the beginning of spring there is still a bite in the air, which calls for a lovely hearty soup. This recipe works well with any white or green cabbage and can be made with vegetable stock instead of chicken, and oil or butter instead of duck fat, if you wish to make it vegetarian. Savory is a special herb that can be hard to find. It looks like tarragon but it has a little fire in it, which gives things a nice kick. If you can’t find it, use tarragon or chopped parsley. The bread is obviously a very important part of the soup, so do your best to source the very best you can find. The soup will only work using sourdough, as any lightertextured bread will fall to pieces and make the soup turn to a mush. This soup is delicious with a glass of riesling, hence my suggestion to use the same wine to cook with.


Quantity Ingredient
1 savoy cabbage
1 brown onion, thinly sliced
1/4 bunch thyme, leaves chopped
30g duck fat or extra-virgin olive oil
125ml white wine
1 loaf sourdough bread, cut into 1 cm slices
300g gruyère, grated
1 bunch savory
1.8 litres hot chicken stock
1 pinch cayenne pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Separate the cabbage leaves and remove the ribs from the thin leaves. Shred the ribs and keep them separate. Shred all of the leaves.
  3. In a large heavy-based ovenproof saucepan over medium heat, sweat the onion and thyme in the duck fat until translucent. Add the shredded cabbage ribs and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook for another 2 minutes or until the wine has reduced and the ribs are soft. Add the shredded leaves and cook until wilted. Transfer from the saucepan into a bowl.
  4. Cover the base of the saucepan with the slices of bread – I leave the crust on as I like the texture and flavour. Spoon over half the cabbage mixture, scatter with one-third of the cheese, sprinkle with some savory leaves and season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Repeat the same layers again of bread, cabbage, cheese, savory, salt and pepper. Finish with a layer of bread slices.
  5. In a separate saucepan, bring the hot chicken stock to the boil and slowly ladle three-quarters of it over the layered bread and cabbage. Leave for 15 minutes to rest, so the bread absorbs the stock. Slowly pour the rest of the hot stock on top, sprinkle the top with cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese blisters and the soup is hot. Remove the pan from the oven and give it a little sprinkling of cayenne pepper.
  6. Place the pan in the middle of the table for everyone to serve themselves.

Medicinal Benefit

  • Cabbage is incredibly good for us. It’s full of vitamin C, essential for boosting the immune system, vitamin K to activate proteins, plus calcium, which is needed for blood clotting and strong bones. It also contains potassium, which helps balance fluids in the body and helps maintain steady muscle contractions and nerve impulses, such as the heartbeat. In common with all brassicas, cabbage is rich in sulphur, essential for proper cardiovascular function, among other things. Stock contains minerals, gelatine and a whole suite of amino acids, which can help with everything from boosting mental performance to sealing the lining of the gut.
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