Colcannon Soup

Colcannon Soup by Bryan Roof is courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated Soups & Stews, Winter 2010

Boston Commons Press Limited Partnership, 17 Station St., Brookline, Ma. 02445

A  magazine put out by America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated Soups & Stews, is where I got this hale and hearty recipe .  I love their magazines, they are always chock full of information, cooking tips, and extra recipes.  I had heard of Colcannon before, but really didn’t know what kind of food it was.  The author of this recipe, Bryan Roof, spent a cold November travelling through Ireland, subsisting only on soda bread, Guinness, and Colcannon (a mash-up of potatoes, cabbage, onions and cream).  Once he returned to the states, he couldn’t find Colcannon on a menu anywhere, but he was able to find an Irish pub that made a Colcannon soup.  He liked the soup more than the Colcannon dish and set about perfecting the recipe.

Although the items in this soup are simple and humble, the taste is anything but.  The slow cooked onions and cabbage impart a sweetness, the wine keeps the chicken broth from overtaking the flavor, and the cream at the end is the icing on the cake.  Be sure to sprinkle the crumbled bacon and chopped green onions on top before serving.  I had planned on baking  Irish Soda Bread to go with this soup, but after Mark came home from work I had a Guinness with him.  Then while I was cooking dinner, I had a glass of Chardonnay.  After that I was in no mood to bake, so we had a cheese tray and crackers with the soup instead.  If you’re not into corned beef, this is an authentic Irish dish that can take its place on St. Patrick’s Day.  Enjoy!


3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used 4 slices)
1 medium onion, minced
1 pound leeks, white and green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin and rinsed thoroughly (tutorial below)
8 ounces green cabbage (about 1/2 small head), cored and chopped medium (about 4 cups)
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
12 ounces red potatoes (about 3 medium), cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons fresh chives, minced


Before we start cooking, I have a short tutorial on how to clean leeks.  If you already know this process, just skip forward.

1. Leeks look like giant green onions.  They are very dirty, and must be cleaned well before you can use them.


2. Start by chopping off the bottoms and most of the dark green tops.


3. Slice the leeks lengthwise…see all that dirt (click on the photo to enlarge).


4. Chop the leeks, dirt and all.


5. Place the chopped leeks in a large bowl, or sink,  with cold water and allow them to soak for a few minutes so that the dirt is loosened.  Rinse and repeat.


6. Once you have cleaned the leeks, transfer them to a colander and rinse them really well, then allow them to drain.


1. Cook bacon in a large dutch oven over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-7 minutes.


2. Remove bacon, drain on paper towels, and leave fat in pot.


3. Add onion, leeks, and cabbage to bacon fat in pot and stir to coat.  Cover and cook over a medium heat until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.  Stir in garlic, cook for about 30 seconds.


4. Stir in flour and cook for about 1 minute.


5. Stir in wine, scraping any browned bits, and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in chicken broth and potatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.


6. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream, season with salt and pepper.  Serve in bowls with reserved crumbled bacon and chives as a garnish.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 corned beef brisket

2 litre bottle, or six-pack of Mountain Dew-you will have leftovers

head of cabbage

red potatoes


pickling spices, optional

1. The corned beef can be cooked on top of the stove, in the oven, or in a crock-pot, depending on your schedule.  Place the corned beef in the chosen cooking vessel, fat side up.  It will usually have a seasoning packet of pickling spices inside the package of corned beef.  You can sprinkle that on top of the brisket or save it for the vegetables.  This part is the same regardless of which cooking method you use; Pour enough Mountain Dew on top to completely cover the brisket.

2. If baking in the oven; Cover the pan with a lid or foil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours.

3. If cooking on top of the stove; prepare brisket and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours.

4. If cooking in a crock-pot; prepare brisket and cook on low for 6 hours.

5. About half an hour before the brisket is done, prepare the vegetables.  Trim and chop the potatoes into large chunks.  Peel and cut the carrots into large pieces.  Quarter the cabbage and remove the core.  Bring a large pot of water to boil, at this point you can add the pickling spices if you wish, season with salt and pepper.  Place the carrots and potatoes in first, the cabbage goes in last.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  Check the veggies with a fork to make sure they are done.  Drain, but save a little of the cooking water (about 1 cup).  Serve the cooking water in a gravy boat for those who wish to mash their veggies.

6. Time your meal so that your brisket can sit on the cutting board for about 5 minutes before you carve it.  When carving the brisket, always cut against the grain.  Put on some Celtic music, serve the veggies and brisket with Irish Soda bread and a nice glass of Guinness.  Enjoy!

Irish Soda Bread

Recipe courtesy of The Bread Book by  Betsy Oppenneer- published by Harper Collins


The quintessential bread to serve on St. Patrick’s Day, this humble loaf tastes even better toasted, and served for breakfast with butter and jam. Enjoy!



2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, for a nutty flavor replace up to half the flour with whole wheat flour ( I use white whole wheat flour for half of the flour)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon caraway seeds

2 Tablespoons sugar

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup currants or raisins

1 cup buttermilk



1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.


2. In a large bowl, whisk together the 2 cups flour, the baking soda, salt, caraway seeds, and sugar until well combined.


3. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it forms rice-size pieces.  Add the raisins and toss until combined.  Add the buttermilk all at once and stir just until combined.


4. Turn the dough out on a floured board and knead gently 8 or 9 times.  Roll the dough into a ball and coat heavily with flour ( I prefer it lightly coated).  Put the dough on a parchment-lined or well-greased baking sheet and flatten the ball slightly so that the loaf is about 3 inches high.  Using a sharp, well-floured knife, cut a cross on the top of the loaf about 1/2 inch deep (as you can see from the photos, I cut my x a bit deep, it made the bread really spread out in that area).


5. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown (the internal temperature should reach 190°F).  Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a rack.  Traditionally soda breads are broken rather than sliced.  However, I prefer to slice the loaf so that it fits in the toaster better the next day.