German-Style Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 slices good quality smoky bacon, chopped or very thinly sliced across
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway or cumin seed
- 1 Braeburn, Northern Spy apple or other firm slightly tart variety, finely chopped
- 1 small red cabbage, quartered, cored and very thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Cheesecloth or loose tea teabag filled with:
- 5 to 6 juniper berries
- 3 to 4 whole cloves
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Curl orange rind
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar or wine vinegar
- 2 rounded tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 6 cups chicken stock
- Kosher salt
- Special equipment: Kitchen twine
Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, and bacon. Brown and crisp bacon and remove to a plate, draining off some fat if you have more than enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pot.
Add the onions, carrots, caraway, and apples, and stir a few minutes. Then wilt in the cabbage and season with black pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg. Cover with the lid slightly ajar and wilt cabbage while you prepare the sachet. Fill the cheesecloth with the juniper berries, cloves, bay leaves, orange rind, and cinnamon, and use kitchen twine to tie it to the side of the pot. Drop it into the pot and stir into the cabbage. Add the vinegar, keeping your head back from the hot pot, brown sugar, stock, and water, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until cabbage is very tender and soup has thickened. Stir the bacon bits back in, then adjust the salt to your taste.
Cool and store for a make-ahead meal, or serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.