ITALIAN CABBAGE SOUP
A hot September day seems like an odd time for a hearty bowl of soup, but I had this cabbage straight out of the garden and a hankering for a dinner-in-a- dish, so ...
Sautee 1 tablespoon garlic, 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage and 1 tablespoon minced pancetta in a small amount of olive oil in a heavy Dutch oven. When the pancetta is getting crunchy and the garlic brown, stir in 1 cup fresh tomato (skinned, seeded and diced) and four cups chicken broth. Bring to a simmer while draining and rinsing one 20-ounce can cannellini or similar white beans. Reserve about half the beans; take the rest and mash them with a fork into a puree; stir into the soup mix until dissolved. Add 1/2 cabbage sliced very fine (about 4 cups, loosely packed); reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for about an hour until the cabbage is very soft. About 10 minutes before serving time, stir in the rest of the beans, 2 ounces of cooked ham (or sausage would do) cut into tiny dice, and 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal, pouring in very gently and stirring constantly so it doesn't make lumps. Continue simmering, stirring frequently, until the cornmeal thickens the soup; salt and pepper (if necessary) to taste, and serve with crusty Italian bread and a green salad.
This is very rich, warm and hearty, and would probably be even better on a COLD night!
Wine warning: I guesstimated that this soup would work well with the Rosenblum Semillon-Chardonnay but it was a disappointing match. Kind of hard to put my finger on what went wrong, but it seemed to have to do with the wine's firm acidity, when came across as VERY tart when tasted with the soup. Not sure what was going on here, but if I had it to do over again, I think maybe a light, fruity red like a Beaujolais or a Dolcetto d'Alba would have served better than an acidic white.