Thai Beef and Cabbage Soup
Adapted from Asian Soups by Suzie Smith (Lansdowne, 2000)
Cabbage may not be the sexiest of vegetables, but it's inexpensive, long-lasting, nutritious, and quite versatile. Think of it as a vegetable that likes to play well with others. Where a European tradition might take beef and cabbage, and enrich them with butter and cream, and season with spices like caraway seed, this alternate take uses the flavors of Thai curries to chase off a wintry chill.
The basic recipe here is quite mild, but can easily be adjusted to accommodate your preference for heat and spice.
- 1 lb. chuck steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 cups shredded white or Chinese cabbage
- 3 or 4 small red chilli peppers
- 4 shallots, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- 2 tbsp. lime zest
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ¼ tsp. turmeric
- ¼ cup peanut oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- 6 cups beef stock
- 2 cups coconut milk
- Salt, to taste
- Combine the chilli peppers, shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro, lime zest, coriander, cumin, black pepper, and turmeric in a food processor, and process to a smooth paste.
- Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, and add the peanut oil. When it shimmers, add the spice paste, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the onion and beef to the pot, with extra oil if necessary, and cook until the onion is softened and the beef is browned all over. Add the stock, coconut milk, tomatoes, and fish sauce, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until the beef is tender, about an hour and a half.
- Stir in the cabbage and continue to cook until the cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes. Check the seasoning, and serve immediately.