Pork and Cabbage Soup
When I think back on most years of my life, I am able to remember being sick once every year or two — and when I started teaching — every year. Sometimes, it went on for more than two months, lingering, wearing me down, leaving me longing for a chest that felt free of the elephant that seemed to be sitting on it, and the racking cough that left my ribs sore from the exertion — sometimes even cracking them. I’ve never been told I have a chronic illness, but if I had, I wonder whether it would have changed anything. I know when I’m getting sick.
There’s a vacant feeling deep in my chest and it begins to tighten. I feel the congestion in my head, breathing becomes a challenge, and I know it’s time to try and sleep more, drink more water, and try to stay away from others who are sick. At some point, I will go to the doctor — especially if I begin to run a fever. Otherwise, it settles in, affecting the way things smell, and sometimes taste. My hearing goes, my eyes water — it’s an ordeal. But it’s an ordeal I’ve had to deal with since I was a child, so if anything, I know the routine. Life goes on, things have to be taken care of, and I rarely completely stop.
But I’m not a spring chicken any longer and I have stopped taking a few things for granted — like being able to breathe.
I have been sick since since the first week of December, and looking at the calender, that means I’m almost seven weeks into this most recent bout. I survived the holidays — even enjoyed a bucket list trip to Las Vegas with friends to celebrate — but didn’t have much energy after our return. I gave in one day when I realized I had to lay down, promising myself that I’d call the doctor, and I did. Three days of laying around isn’t something I’m used to and my bones were sore from lack of use. My stubborn nature compels me to do bits of this and that around the house, forcing myself to move — and I feel better for the effort. I tell myself at least I’m not dealing with the flu and its slam you against a brick wall effects. No, I’ve had that a few times in my life and am always glad to contend with the lesser of the two.
At the same time, I’m left thinking about those truly ill. People who have mind-boggling illnesses and physical conditions to grapple with each day, and thinking of them pushes me to believe that my approach to being sick is as it should be. I acknowledge it, pay attention, continue with life, and when very necessary, seek medical help. Otherwise, I crave comfort food that comes in a bowl and is steaming hot — like this Pork and Cabbage Soup.
I used Veselka’s Cabbage Soup recipe found at Smitten Kitchen for this recipe and followed it fairly closely with adjustments. Yes, they’re big adjustments, but I made them for a practical reason. After I made that enormous Chili-Brined Fresh Whole Ham I made a batch of ham stock following Kalyn’s guidelines.
Additionally, I had frozen pieces of Slow Roasted Spice Rubbed Pork Shoulder so decided that I wasn’t going to cook a pork shoulder for the sake of this soup. I used ham broth instead of the chicken broth in the original recipe, then used the same quantity of pork shoulder called for in the original recipe, but because it was already completely cooked, added it at the end and just long enough to heat through. Essentially, I heated the vegetables in the broth and water, cooked until fork tender, then added the meat and heated some more.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
And it is if you have great ingredients. Such an amazingly fabulous recipe. Now I need to make it again exactly as written. I wondered about adding sauerkraut to the mix once fresh cabbage was a part of it, but goodness! It’s incredible.
And don’t skip adding the juice as called for. It adds the perfection.
I wish I had a bowl right now. You have no idea.
- Well I’ve given you most of them above, but I’ll add that I had lovely, colorful baby carrots from the farmer’s market, so wanted them whole, stems and all. We throw out so much of what is natural about our food and so I leave the peelings, the stems and all. I may not eat the stems, but their nutrients go into the broth.
- And speaking of that broth. I leave peelings and all when I’m making broth. Everything gets tossed when it’s strained, so why not leave the good stuff until the end? Yes, onion skins as well.
- Look at that gorgeous clear broth…I could sip a cup of it all by itself.