Ah, the virtues of a good bowl of soup. Or over 35 different bowls of soup. There’s the nutritional value, of course, and the ease of batch cooking for future enjoyment on those days when inclination or time mean all you can muster up in the way of food preparation is reheating. A soup can be simple and fast to throw together, with just a few ingredients, or a more complex blend of ingredients and seasonings that allows you to exercise your cooking chops. And finally, there’s flavour! You can take practically any combination of ingredients and create a whole world of flavour profiles by switching up the herbs, spices and other accoutrements.
This soup, featuring turkey, cabbage and squash with fennel seeds wasn’t made with any particular cuisine in mind, just good flavour and satisfying nutrition. I first made it during a week with a busy work schedule, so cooking once and eating several meals was definitely an objective.
I rarely add meat to my soups, but my goal here was a hearty, one-pot meal, definitely a soup but veering toward the stew lane. So, I came home from the market with a pound of a blend of ground turkey and chicken. Ever since I first used squash in a soup, it’s been a favourite of mine. The cabbage, I admit, went into the pot simply because I had half a head in the fridge that needed to be used up. It turned out to be the predominant flavour, and I decided to play it up with the sweet anise tones of crushed fennel seeds.
The result? A soup that’s hearty, but also somehow delicate. It’s definitely savoury, but has a sweet undertone from the combination of cabbage and fennel. And I enjoyed the textural interplay of the chewy ground meat with the luscious squash and firmer cabbage. The broth is beautifully golden, and the chunks of squash add extra jewel-like opulence.
This soup is definitely one of my favourites; it might even nudge its way into my top ten list. But then I’d have to bump another one out — what to do? Of course, I’ll have to make it a couple of times more … you know, just to be sure. And next time, I think I’ll get out my reeaaaalllly big stock pot and make a double batch.
Turkey, Cabbage & Squash Soup with Fennel
© Marlene Cornelis/Urban Cottage Life.com 2017
This is another soup where I use my “trick” of adding something piquant at the end, like the cider vinegar in this recipe, to lift and brighten the flavours.
Note: Lightly crushed the fennel seeds with a mortal and pestle until you have a blend of powder and some seeds that are almost whole.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb ground turkey or a turkey/chicken blend
- 1 1/2 cup chopped onion (cut about 1/2 inch)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp dried chopped sage
- 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed in with a mortar and pestle
- 1 3/4 cup sweet potato, diced large (1 medium, cut into 3/8-inch dice)
- 3 cups butternut squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 5 cups chopped green cabbage, chopped (cut into 1/2-inch pieces; I used half of a small cabbage)
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Heat the olive oil in a large pot (Dutch oven or stock pot) over medium high heat. Add the ground turkey, breaking it up with a spatula and stirring frequently until it’s crumbly and most of the pink is gone.
Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and stir from time to time until the onions are translucent. This will take two or three minutes. Add the seasonings, herbs and spices; stir well and let them cook down for a minute or two.
Add all the vegetables, then the stock and stir well. Cover and turn the heat to high. Once the soup is boiling, turn the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, add the vinegar. Stir, then taste and adjust the seasonings and vinegar as required to suit your taste.