This soup and I bumped into each other. It was one of the drizzly,
gray days we'd been having way-too-often here in Atlanta. While out
running errands, I stopped into a restaurant I hadn't been to in years
called Nam. I
needed a quick nosh before heading back to whichever store or market I
was off to next. This soup sounded so interesting, I just had to order
it – even though I had sworn to myself that the last thing
I needed was another soup recipe to obsess about. It was so unique yet
so familiar. Comforting while it made me a little antsy to rush to a
kitchen to re-create it. "Mom's Cabbage Dumpling Soup" pretty much blew
It's the perfect blend of the stuffed cabbage my mom
used to make and the Asian soups I hold so dear. Nam's version has pork,
shrimp and glass noodles filling their cabbage leaves. I've simplified
mine a bit by using just pork dressed up with some shiitake mushrooms
and garlic. Use this recipe as a base to experiment- use ground shrimp,
more veggies, noodles. Whatever you like or have on hand. I even threw in some leftover enoki mushrooms I had into the broth.
Once you get
the hang of rolling the delicate cabbage bundles, this soup comes
together extremely quickly – I consulted some Asian
cooking blogs to get an idea if I was on the right track. The key here is not to over-stuff the dumplings. Trust me, with the amount of flavor you get from this soup and the heartiness of the cabbage, you need not worry about them being skimpy.
& Cabbage Dumpling Soup – serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a starter
– Start a large, wide bottomed pot of water on stove to boil.
Using the tough seam in the cabbage leaves as a guide, cut large
sections on either side of that seam off into smaller cabbage leaves –
this should make 12 small cabbage segments to use as your wrappers. When
water comes to a boil, blanch cabbage until tender but not falling
apart – 2 to 3 minutes at the most. Pull from water and allow to drain
and cool thoroughly so you can roll your dumplings without burning your
– While cabbage cools, mix pork, garlic, salt, pepper and
chopped mushrooms up in a large mixing bowl. I found that using your
hands to do the mixing works best and incorporates everything most
evenly. When leaves are cool enough to handle, spoon roughly a
tablespoon into each leaf. Fold sides over and roll cabbage into a small
bundle. Tie bundle together with a strip of green onion (the recipe
calls for more than you need because you'll have some breakage – don't
– In a smaller pot, bring stock, water, lime
juice to a simmer. Taste your broth and salt & pepper as needed.
Gently place cabbage bundles in the stock and cook until pork is cooked
through – 4 to 5 minutes.
– When done, gently spoon dumplings
into a shallow soup bowl (6 per person is a nice healthy portion for an
entree or 3 as a starter soup). Ladle broth over dumplings. Garnish with
chopped green onions – those white parts you set aside – and chopped
cilantro. If using, serve a tablespoon or so of fish sauce and chopped
thai red chilies on the side. Serve immediately!