I love a good story. A bedtime story, a love story, a “you’ll never believe this” story. A good story teaches, enlightens, entertains, and suspends all time and place — drawing you in so that only the story matters.
A few weeks ago, I attended the wedding of a childhood friend’s daughter. The bride and groom, the stars at the center of a classic “boy meets girl” love story, were radiant, their joy contagious. Their story is just unfolding, the binding of that book barely cracked.
Two elderly gentlemen who live in my neighborhood walk together every day. In even the most inhospitable weather, they travel a familiar route, leaning in to one another. They share unhurried conversation, a relaxed exchange of stories, the details of which only they know. I observe from a distance and wonder what the story of their friendship is.
One of the reasons I love writing this blog is it gives me a chance to share stories and sometimes, if I’m lucky, to be gifted with a story in return. There is meaning in all our stories, new chapters to write every day. Our stories make us real, and as the Skin Horse so wisely says in The Velveteen Rabbit:
“Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
I hope that this holiday season provides opportunities to share old stories and create new ones — stories that will last for always.
Here is a recipe for Winter Cabbage and Farro Soup that feels like an old familiar story. It is earthy, warm and oh so comforting. Thanks to Josh McFadden, author Six Seasons for providing the foundation and inspiration.
1 lb. cabbage (I used savoy but any kind will do.)
1 med. onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 sprig rosemary or thyme
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2/3 c. farro
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth (store-bought or homemade)
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cut out cabbage core and roughly chop it. Cut the leaves into fine shreds by slicing through the chunk of cabbage.
Heat 1/4 c. olive oil into a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cabbage core, pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until the onion starts to brown and become fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 until the garlic is also soft.
Add the shredded cabbage leaves and rosemary or thyme. Cover the pot and allow the steam to soften the leaves, tossing occasionally. Cook, covered, until the cabbage is very tender and sweet, 20-30 minutes. When the cabbage is ready, stir in the vinegar and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper, if necessary.
Meanwhile, heat approximately 2-3 tbsp. olive oil in another large pot, add the farro and cook, stirring constantly until the farro is lightly toasted and fragrant, approximately 5-6 minutes. Scrape the toasted farro into the cabbage pot and add the broth. Adjust the heat to a slow simmer and leave alone for approximately 25 minutes – until the farro is tender.
Stir in the lemon juice and ladle the soup into bowls. Shower each bowl with grated Parmigiano cheese and enjoy!