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 my mind.
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.
Pork & Cabbage Dumpling Soup - serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a starter
- 2 cups good quality chicken or vegetable broth
- juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup ground pork
- 2 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and diced
- 6 large savoy, napa, or white cabbage leaves
- 10 green onions, long green tops saved and cut into long, thin strips and white bottoms roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2 thai red chilies, chopped (optional)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (optional)
- salt and pepper, for broth, to taste if needed
- 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 fingers.
- 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 get flustered!).
- 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!