Monday, August 18, 2008
My New York Times Acclaimed Cabbage & Rice Soup Recipe
Addendum to the 'Soup' Chapter of "Split: A Memoir of Divorce"
Despite being an essentially modest woman of low expectations (low expectations being, I find, the easiest to maintain) I’m not at all surprised that dozens of New York Times readers clamored for my cabbage and rice soup recipe -- this after my entire "Soup" chapter ran in the Fashion and Style section on April 6. New Yorkers sense quality. Many reader emails were faithfully forwarded to me by Dan Jones, the hallowed yet bemused column editor. A few of the emails came awfully close to begging; certain individuals asserted that they needed the soup recipe in order to go on living lives to which they had already become accustomed. Naturally, I can’t have editors at the New York Times being hounded, as it would get in the way of larger trends and information.
I have relented.
This same cabbage soup is a well-known pleasure/weapon among my circle of friends; we call it the Cabbage Soup of Desire. Some even call it the Cabbage Soup of Death, as it has felled hard-core bachelors, brought smartly to their knees. Naturally, there is much merriment at this time, and the passing about of the recipe for the CSOD.
The distinguishing factor of the CSOD is its speed and accuracy. In a moment of crisis or at the brink of pleasure, one wants something deadly accurate and reliable, and the CSOD is just that. For the record it should be stated that this is not available on the back of any food product or within the pages of any cookbook. I received this recipe in the oral tradition; it was performed and revealed to me by a saint, a friend and a damned good artist from Matador, Texas. A marvelous and priceless man who has now, as they say in the South, Gone to the Beyond, and who bequeathed this recipe to me, among other treasures I've no intention of sharing.
Let us confront the rice in the CSOD. The fact that the CSOD includes rice shouldn’t cause anyone to panic. Rice is a ubiquitous horror of a food product, deciding to stick together or run free and hard whenever it feels like it. In the terribly effusive 1980's, President Reagan as well as Rice Cookers were introduced, but I feel that a rice cooker just encourages rice to be difficult. I don’t have the counter space for one more appliance, especially if it glorifies a rather bland and shiftless character such as rice. Unlike potatoes, rice has mood swings and thinks it's much more interesting than it is. But in this soup, the rice is a bit player; it's a very nice extra. Someone you don’t have to pay any attention to. In the CSOD, rice is cancelled out, it has no power. Here is a lovely liaison where soup and rice get together; here, rice performs its job beautifully and it knows its place in the higher scheme of things, something each of us would do well to learn.
One massive can of Swanson chicken broth, quart sized
One cup of plain rice (please don’t attempt to make the soup political with the substitution of brown rice; a rice so heinously difficult as to merit extermination altogether)
One half head of fresh cabbage, coarsely chopped
Gruyere cheese -- grated.
Oversized Italian Style Garlic Croutons (I find them in clear cellophane bags within the produce or bread section of any legitimate supermarket. For God's sake don’t make your own croutons.)
Get out a big pot.
Add the chicken broth (Again I must warn you not to attempt to make your own chicken stock, something that only inmates in a state penitentiary should be caught spending time on. And it won’t be better and it won't turn out right, so don’t do it. I know how some of you are. Any time spend making stock would be better turned toward the accumulation of carnal knowledge.)
When the broth begins to boil, add the rice. Just throw it in with a hint of disdain; the rice must sense you are in charge.
Turn the heat down to Simmer
After 20 minutes, throw in the Chopped Cabbage. Not too little, not too much. Just enough.
Stir. Wait about 2 minutes until the cabbage is wilting.
Pour soup into large bowls. Sprinkle liberally with the grated Gruyere Cheese. Now place the crouton across the top, about 4 per bowl.
Serve hot with icy steins of Pilsner Urquel beer if you're married -- or red wine if you're dating.
This soup can be prepared while wearing a tight dress and six-inch high heels. It can be made drunk. It's often lethal among men who want a woman who can cook, a subgroup that includes all men, even stick figures or Pygmies. Have a care. Do not abuse the power of the soup. Once you make CSOD for a man, he is yours for life. That's the Yield.
This is not always well advised.