Potatoes. Cabbage. Guinness. Pretty solid foundation for a St. Patrick’s weekend meal. I just concocted this soup tonight, and it was pretty tasty. So I’m going to dispense with any further preliminaries in order to get this out quickly in case there’s anyone looking for a last minute St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. This is probably a bit quicker to make than the Irish Lamb Stew I posted recently…you can’t go wrong with either!
2 slices of bacon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 carrots, sliced
3 cups cabbage, coarsely chopped
(plus a bit more, sliced super thin, as an optional topping)
4 medium red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped coarsely
6 sage leaves, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup Guinness or other dark beer of choice
1/4 to 1/2 tsp fennel seed (pretty potent flavor, I used 1/2 tsp but if you’re not sure if you like it you might opt for 1/4 or 1/3)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup or so shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: if you have any leftover cooked meat, such as as steak or pork, add that after you’ve pureed the soup. We had a handful of steak leftover, and that added some nice additional substance.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Cook the bacon until it’s nice and crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon to a plate with a paper towel on it, set aside to cool. Drain most of the bacon fat from the pan but leave a bit for flavor. When the bacon has cooled, crumble it up into small bits to serve on the soup later.
Return the pan to the burner on medium heat, add the other tbsp of olive oil. Add the onion, cook for about 5 minutes, until it begins to soften. Stir in the carrots, followed by the cabbage and garlic. Give them a few minutes to begin to soften, then add the potatoes and sage. Add a bit of salt at this point, too.
Add the liquids: vegetable broth, water, and yes, Guinness (be strong, hopefully you have more left in your glass!). Stir well to combine. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer on medium. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Remove from heat, and puree with a handheld blender, or transfer to puree in a food processor. I went for a consistency that still had some nice chunks of potato and other veggies, but you could go for a smoother puree if you prefer.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle bacon, cheddar and a bit of the shredded cabbage to for a nice presentation. Your ready to enjoy it…and for the full Irish experience, serve it with a pint of Guinness and some soda bread! (my friend John nicely dropped by some fresh baked soda bread, which went perfectly with the soup. Sláinte!