SAVOY CABBAGE SOUP WITH HAM RYE BREAD AND FONTINA

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS This decadent combination of rich beef broth, cabbage, rye bread, pancetta, and nutty fontina cheese comes from Italian ski country, high in the Alps. Although it’s called a soup, this dish is heartier than that—reminiscent of the cheesy top layer of French onion soup. Savoy cabbage is the regional favorite, and its subtly sweet flavor worked beautifully with the earthy rye bread that we cubed and dried at a low temperature in the oven. We built flavor and tenderized the cabbage by first braising it with pancetta, onion, bay leaf, and beef broth before layering it in a casserole dish with the toasted bread. The casserole received a blanket of cheese, which turned bubbly under the broiler. Any type of hearty rye bread will work well here. You will need a 13 by 9-inch broilersafe baking dish for this recipe.

Serves 6 to 8

Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces hearty rye bread, cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped fine
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced thin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head savoy cabbage (1½ pounds), cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

 

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss bread with 2 tablespoons oil and spread into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat butter and remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Add pancetta and cook until browned and rendered, about 8 minutes. Stir in onion and salt and cook over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in cabbage, broth, and bay leaves and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until cabbage is tender, about 45 minutes.
  4. Adjust oven rack to 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Discard bay leaves. Spread half of cabbage mixture evenly in bottom of 13 by 9-inch broiler-safe baking dish, then top with half of croutons. Repeat with remaining cabbage mixture and croutons. Gently press down on croutons with rubber spatula until thoroughly saturated.
  5. Sprinkle fontina over top and broil until melted and spotty brown, about 4 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.