Whether or not you have Irish genes like I do (I’m Scotch Irish on both sides!) you might be trying to figure out what to serve on St Patrick’s Day. This year the holiday falls on a Saturday, making it perfect for an extra special celebration. And, I have just the recipe to begin or anchor a fête.
Corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes--that popular trinity redolent of Irish cooking-- each have starring roles in this recipe from Sunday Soup.These ingredients are simmered in chicken stock along with seasonings of bacon and grainy Dijon mustard, then the mixture is ladled into ramekins, covered with rounds of purchased puff pastry, and baked. At the table, this soup delights diners. With a spoon they break into the golden, flaky pastry and uncover the savory, hot corned beef and cabbage mixture bubbling beneath.
Happy St Patrick’s Day to all of you!
Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup –“Under Cover”
5 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick pieces
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
One small (1 1/2 pound green cabbage), quartered, cored, then cut into strips 2-inches long by 1/2-inch wide
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/8-inch cubes
5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons whole- grain Dijon Mustard
8 ounces sliced good quality corned beef cut into strips 1/2-inch wide by 2-inch strips (see note)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
One 17.3 ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
1 large egg
Equipment needed: 8 one-cup ramekins or soufflé dishes
1. In a large, heavy pot (with a lid) set over medium heat, sauté the bacon until crisp. Add the onion and sauté with the bacon until onion is just slightly softened, for about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and potatoes and toss to coat with the bacon drippings. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Add the stock and the mustard to the pot and stir to blend. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then cover. Simmer until vegetables are just tender, for about 20 minutes. Then stir in the corned beef, and season with salt, as needed, and with pepper.
3. While soup is simmering prepare pastry tops. On a floured work surface roll one of the pastry sheets into an 11-inch square. Cut out 4 pastry rounds, each about 5 1/2 inches in diameter (or 1/2-inch wider all around than the tops of the ramekins). Repeat with remaining pastry sheet. Cut a 1/2-inch circle in the center of each pastry round (a plain 1/2-inch pastry tip works well for cutting the hole). The hole will let the steam escape while the pastry bakes. Cover and refrigerate rounds until needed.
4. When soup is done, cool slightly, for about 10 minutes, then fill each ramekin to within 1/2-inch of the top. (You will have about 2 cups soup remaining; refrigerate and enjoy as leftovers.) Whisk the egg with 1 teaspoon cold water in a small bowl, and brush one side of each pastry circle with some of this egg mixture. Carefully place a pastry round, glazed side down, over each ramekin. Firmly press the overlapping pastry against the outside of each ramekin. Be careful not to press down from the top to avoid cutting the dough on the edge of the ramekin. Press the tines of a fork around the pastry sides to make it adhere tightly to each ramekin.
5. Brush the tops and sides of the pastries with the egg glaze. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and refrigerate, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour. (Soup can be prepared 4 hours ahead; keep covered and refrigerated.)
6. To bake ramekins, arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake ramekins until pastry is golden brown and slightly puffed, for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove and serve.
At the Market Note: Be sure to buy the best quality corned beef available, preferably from a deli or the deli counter at the supermarket. Don’t be afraid to ask the sales person for a taste of different corned beef brands–you might be surprised by how much they vary in flavor.