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.