Fall Vegetable Potée
Traditionally, a Potée is a French soupy stew made in an earthen ware pot with pork, cabbage, potatoes and other root vegetables. While I love pork in all it's glorious forms, I do try, for health reasons, to avoid eating too much pork - it's impossible for me to eliminate it altogether. Pork puts so much stress on the liver to process that it can send it into hyperdrive and cause hot flashes among other things. Since I've greatly cut down my meat consumption in general, but I don't want to give up many of the dishes that traditionally contain some portion of meat, I attempt to make versions of these recipes with vegetables and or beans. The day I photographed this vegetarian version of Potée, it just so happened that I had all yellow and orange vegetables on hand. I didn't have carrots, however, and would have added them if they were in my fridge. The other nice benefit to using just vegetables in this dish is time. It takes far less time to prepare and cook. You can have this on the table in about an hour, if you're a fast vegetable chopper!
Since we are not using meat here, the vegetable that gets the most care in the pot is the onion. Take the time to caramelize it, adding the sugar towards the end of browning so it doesn't burn. I also sauté the cabbage for just a little bit to coax some sweetness out of it, but not too long, as we want the cabbage to maintain a firm but tender texture and not completely dissolve into bits. I usually use just water instead of prepared broth so you can really taste the flavor of each vegetable you are using, although cabbage does become a dominant flavor. I use the corn cobs to flavor the stew as well, letting them simmer for the entire cooking time, removing them only at the very end. The goal is a mostly clear broth with big chunky vegetables. Add more water if you prefer it. And sometimes I add a few strands of saffron to add depth of flavor. I used what I had available and so should you. Please add carrots if you have them. The amounts of vegetables are flexible but I wouldn't add more cabbage. And the type of Winter squash can be substituted for what you have on hand or available to you. Enjoy!
Fall Vegetable Potée
1 very large or 2 medium onions, diced into medium chunks
2 teaspoons sugar
2 ears of yellow corn, kernels removed, save the cobbs
2 -3 cups Winter squash or Butternut squash (I used Hubbard) medium diced
1/2 of a medium cabbage, cut into 1" squares
2 very large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 to 3 tomatoes (yellow preferable) medium dice
Recommended addition of 2 large carrots, cut into 1" pieces
olive oil, salt, and pepper
about 7-8 cups water or combination of water and vegetable broth (I prefer water)
2 to 3 tablespoons butter to finish or 1 tablespoon added to each bowl - optional
In a large soup pot, heat the oil on medium high heat and add the diced onions. Cook the onions until they are well browned, about 10 to 15 minutes, then add the sugar and cabbage. Stir to combine and cook the cabbage for about 2-3 minutes. Add the water, all of the vegetables, the two corn cobbs and season with a teaspoon or two of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a gentle simmer and cover. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove lid, remove corn cobbs, taste and adjust seasonings. Optional - add 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter to the pot or a tablespoon to each bowl to finish. Serve with crusty bread on the side. It's perfect for soaking up the broth. Enjoy!