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Cabbage Soup

In the 1950's, the Cabbage Soup Diet became popular as a fast way to lose pounds. Most recipes included dry onion soup mix and lots of chopped cabbage. Dieters were instructed to follow the diet for one week, during which they could eat as much soup as they wanted. I'm pretty sure no one could tolerate it for more than 7 days, and results were likely only short-lived. Even Weight Watchers took a turn with Cabbage Soup, calling it Zero-Point Soup and praising its ability to be filling with very few calories. Truth be known, I made it once and hated it.

This is unfortunate, because Cabbage Soup has been a hearty mainstay of Eastern European cooking since the Middle Ages, when cabbage was a plentiful fresh vegetable. When it's made well (without trying to strip it down to zero calories) it's a filling and delicious meal. This recipe from the NYT cooking section contains some typical ingredients: cabbage, of course, and diced tomatoes, carrots and celery, but it is enriched with Yukon Gold potatoes and optional canned white beans. Now we're talking.

Guess what? It's still very low in fat, calories and WW Points. In other words, you can have your soup and eat it too. Make this soup and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or 3 months in the freezer. And remember, this isn't a diet. This is living!

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped (1 1/2 cups)

2 to 3 ribs celery, chopped (1 1/2 cups)

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1 large Yukon gold potato, chopped (about 8 oz.)

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes with juice

6 cups chopped green cabbage (from 1 small cabbage)

1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, optional

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped parsley, chopped, plus more for serving

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender-crisp. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, crush red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. salt (or 1 1/2 tsp. if you're not using low-sodium broth) and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the potatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the paste is fully incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the broth and. diced tomatoes with their juices, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir in the cabbage, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the white beans, if using.

Off the heat, add the vinegar and parsley. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot, topped with more parsley.

Serves 6

WW Points per serving: 1

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