Garbure is a thick French soup, almost a stew, based on cabbage and beans with some form of meat and other vegetables, often with bread added. It originated in the south-west of France, around Bearn, the Pyrenees, Gascony and Landes. It may vary from household to household and season to season, depending on what is available. The basic principle behind this dish is the lengthy simmering of an assortment of vegetables and meats, generally meats preserved en confit. As far as vegetables go, anything is possible. The cabbage may be accompanied by any kind of beans, potatoes, turnips, celeriac, kohl rabi, nettle tops, borrage, leaf beet, beetroot, in fact just about anything that can be grown in the area.
I started with an enormous home-grown cabbage. I didn’t use all of it; this cabbage weighs more than an average baby, and is about the size of a basket ball. I just shaved off about a quarter of it.One word of warning: this involved a lot of chopping and I used a very large pan.
- 1 small cabbage (or part of a larger one), coarsely shredded
- 3 tbsp goose fat
- 2 carrots, diced, or use celeriac
- 1 turnip, diced, or use kohl rabi
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 large leek, split lengthways into quarters and then chopped
- Parsley, thyme, bayleaves
- 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
- A good pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2.3 litres of stock or water
- 1 can of borlotti beans (you could use any sort of bean, especially canellini beans.
- 350g potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 250g butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and cubed.
- 1 serving of meat per person, for example ham hough, sausage, confit of duck or goose. If you cooked the hough yourself, use the stick in the soup.
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the cabbage, simmer for ten minutes and then drain well.
- In a large soup pan, heat the goose fat and add the carrots, celery, turnips, onion and leeks, and stew very slowly for fifteen minutes, stirring from time to time.
- Add the drained cabbage, and cook for another ten minutes
- Add herbs, salt, cayenne and the stock, then stir in the beans, potatoes and pumpkin and cook, uncovered, at a very slow simmer for around 40 minutes. You may need to top up with water as required.
- Submerge the meat in the soup and continue to cook for another thirty minutes.
- To serve, line each bowl with a slice of home-made bread, ladle the soup over the bread, and top with a portion of meat.
There are other versions, which include cloves, or garlic, or other ingredients. You can make the base soup, cool before the step where the meat is added. Then, when you need to, reheat what you need.
I found the original recipe I was given rather sweet, so I have reduced the amount of honey in the recipe here. I’m currently trying out all sorts of recipes with potato in, if you hadn’t noticed.
- 1 can of borlotti beans
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, finely sliced
- 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 carrots, 1cm dice
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 dried chillies, crushed
- 1/2 tsp mild dried chilli flakes
- 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- juice of half a lemon, about 2 tbsp
- a good grind of black pepper
- 1 tbsp honey
- flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve
- Heat the oil over a medium flame, and fry the onion, garlic and carrot for around ten minutes. Keep stirring so that the vegetables don’t catch.
- Add the tomato paste, chillies and chilli flakes, and cook for a minute.
- Add the borlotti beans, potato, dried basil and salt and cook for a few minutes to heat everything through
- Add 500ml boiling water and the lemon juice, and simmer for around twenty minutes until the potato is cooked.
- Add the black pepper and honey to taste, and stir the parsley through. Leave the stew for around ten minutes before serving, to allow the flavours to mingle.
Delicious, cheap, easy, vegan, quick, filling. Not much more to say.
- 2 small onions
- 1 head of celery
- Olive oil for frying
- Olive oil for serving (best quality that you can get)
- 1 400g borlotti beans, drained (this can be substituted, but I love borlotti beans)
- 1 litre stock
- salt and black pepper, freshly ground
- Chop the onions and celery, and fry in olive oil in a large pan over a low heat, until soft; don’t brown the vegetables
- Add the other ingredients, bring to the boil, and then cover to simmer for 20 minutes
- Season, and roughly blend with a soup wand. Add a little water if the soup is too thick.
Serve with a swirl of posh olive oil to each bowl, and a slice of brown bread on the side.
I can’t believe I haven’t shared this recipe before. It uses the vegetables that are making a come-back after the winter, and is also a good way to use some of the Allium triquetrum leaves as they start to grow. It is a very unusual flavour for western palates, the dried limes and turmeric give the stew a rich flavour. I used the recipe in ‘Nightingales and Roses’ and added the vegetables growing in the garden. I wonder what it would be like with a bit of lovage?
- 3-4 dried limes (from Persepolis or other online shops)
- 100g parsley
- 100g coriander
- 100g spinach or chard
- 1 handful of kale tops
- 1 handful of Allium triquetrum or inner leaves from small leeks
- olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 500g lamb (from shoulder or best end of neck) in large pieces.
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 can borlotti beans, drained
- Cover the limes in hot water, and weigh them down with a small plate so that they soften over the next couple of hours.
- Strip the leaves from the parsley and coriander, and rinse all of the green vegetables, and leave to dry.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a casserole dish and cook the onions until they are golden.
- Add the lamb and turmeric and fry until the meat is browned. Add enough stock or water to cover the meat and bring to a slow simmer. Continue to cook on a low heat for an hour.
- Use a food processor to chop the green vegetables finely. You’ll need to do this in batches.
- Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a pan and add the chopped vegetables, and cook until they begin to darken. Add the fried vegetables to the stew.
- Add the limes to the stew. To enhance the flavour, stab them a few times before putting them in. Braise for another 30 minutes
- Add the borlotti beans and simmer for another 30 minutes. Check the flavour and add salt to taste.
We had this with plain rice, and it was phenomenal. The main part of the stew is the beans and vegetables, with lovely tender lamb morsels.
I have been experimenting with this stew, and have come up with variations that are vegan, vegetarian or just general. I’ll leave it for you to decide how to go about it.
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 25g pancetta, (optional)
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
- 1 small or half a large red cabbage
- 2 cans tinned tomatoes, chopped
- 1 sprig of thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary leaves
- 1/2 tsp chopped sage leaves (optional)
- 1 can borlotti beans or cannellini beans
- 1.75 litres of stock (vegetable or beef)
- In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the pancetta, onions, garlic, carrots and celery, and fry gently until the vegetables start to brown slightly.
- Add the cabbage, tomatoes and thyme, stir and cook until the cabbage is tender.
- Add the stock, the can of beans including liquid, 1 tsp salt and a good amount of black pepper, as well as the other herbs. Cook over a very low heat for two hours, keeping a check to make sure it is not sticking.
- Once the stew is cooked, check for seasoning, and add extra stock if it seems to need it.
This recipe is based on several others, some of which use Italian black kale, luganega pork sausage, omit the sage, etcetera. Please experiment.