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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

For The Love of Leeks - Red Cabbage & Leek Soup (Low Carb/Gluten Free)

I didn't even know what, precisely, a leek really was until very recently. But since I have a tendency to get into a rut with certain vegetables, I've decided to be bold and to challenge myself to using ingredients that I previously knew nothing about. According to Wikipedia, leeks are a vegetable that belongs in the same family as onions and garlic (the Alliaceae family). When raw, they are extremely pungent - they will make your whole refrigerator reek. But when they are cooked, they become fragrant, with a delicate and flavorful taste that is milder and sweeter than onions. They are a good source of potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C.

My first attempt at cooking with leeks was brilliant. I had just learned about braising and had fallen in love with braised cabbage before stumbling upon a recipe for braised leeks, which tastes amazing, but may be  a little high in carbs if you're doing induction or ongoing weight loss. For those of you unfamiliar with stove top braising, it's basically a cross between sauteing and steaming, a process that allows you to  steam vegetables completely and get the caramelized flavor of a saute. Although there are number of vegetables that can be successfully braised (cabbage, celery, broccoli, turnips and brussels sprouts to name a few), my favorite is leeks,  mainly because they add flavor to previously uninspired dishes like this  red cabbage soup.

I was inspired to create this  recipe because I came across a recipe for red cabbage soup. It was easy to make, incredibly healthy, but really, really, really dull. Even though red cabbage has more flavor than the green, it isn't quite enough when used by itself. I'd used leeks before in soup, so I combined the two for a great success.

Red Cabbage and Leek Soup


1 T extra virgen olive oil
1 oz trimmed leeks
2 C water
6 oz red cabbage
1/2 tsp sea salt

Let's start with the leeks themselves, to begin with. A whole leek looks like this:

The green leaves are inedible so you cut them off.

Then you trim the end, where the roots were:

Then cut the leak in half, lengthwise, and wash thoroughly.

When they're completely clean, shake off the excess water and cut them into small pieces and set aside.

Now here's the red cabbage. I know they look purple and when you cook them, they really get purple, but they're called red. No one put me in charge of naming the vegetables, so there you go. They are high in vitamin K and C and have a moderate amount of fiber.

Slice in half and remove the core. Then slice thinly and chop up into smaller pieces.

Weigh out 6 oz and set aside.

Using a medium sized soup pan, heat the olive oil over a medium high heat.

Add the leeks and saute for about 2 minutes (until they start to brown.

Then add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the cabbage, cover, lower the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

While it's simmering, set up a colander placed over a medium sized bowl:

When soup is done, carefully pour into the colander. You don't want to lose any of the broth because that's where the nutrients are. The cabbage has the fiber but everything else is in the broth.

Set aside the cabbage and divide the liquid evenly between 2 containers.

Weigh the cabbage again and divide it evenly between the 2 containers.

This recipe makes 2 servings and each has 95 cal, 4.4 net carbs, 6.75 g fat, 3 g fiber and 3 g protein.

Obviously, you can double the recipe and make 4 servings - I'm not sure how it freezes, but it does OK in the fridge for a few days.