A few years ago I was working at a summer show – you know, loads of tents and you can walk around, buy some nice food and a pint of Pimms (what?) and maybe watch a dog show.  There will be burgers, samosas and some quinoa salad to buy.

I was working with a new colleague and, it’s a funny one, working these events – you spend a day, or two, or three, with one other person who you may or may not ever speak to again. Quickly you know about intimacies you’d never share with someone who might be at a neighbouring desk.  But you don’t want to embarrass yourself.

So picking up a savoy cabbage so firm and fresh that the leaves squeaked, and I muttered “Oh GOD it’s so fresh you can HEAR IT” whilst holding it to my ear … so I embarrassed myself.  Oh lord.  Luckily only people who love food can stand in a tent and sell it for days and hours a week, so he got it and laughed.

But not every cabbage comes to us so fresh that you can barely snap the outer leaves off.  I know that there’s often a half eaten, ever so slightly browning cabbage in my large crisper drawer.

This recipe, which I’ve tweaked ever-so-slightly, is another light lunch lovely.  Cabbage and coconut!  It’s such a wonderful combination.  I think that the addition of tamari/dark soy or fish sauce is essential if you’re not going to use any stock.  It’s creamy, it’s flavoursome and cheap as all hell.  Add in a few handfuls of coriander if you like, and def any little odds and sods of greens that are hanging about.  Don’t waste your greens; they are cheap but they are too good to be wasted.  Get on it!

(Three ways with half a leftover) Cabbage and coconut soup

Adapted, barely, from Henrietta Clancy, ‘Just Soup’, p28
Serves 3-4


1/2 medium cabbage: about 300 grams with the stalk, 250 grams after removing the stalk
1 tablespoon ground nut oil
1 small onion (about 55 grams), chopped into dice
1 garlic clove, chopped/minced/grated
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
400 ml can coconut milk
100 ml water/stock
Squeeze of lime/lemon
Optional: coriander, peas, broccoli, green beans – any nice greens that need eating up


Knife, chopping board
Saucepan with lid
Immersion blender (optional)


About half an hour


If using frozen peas, leave to defrost
Remove the stalk of the cabbage – if necessary cut into quarters and remove the stalk by cutting it out on the diagonal
Mince or grate the garlic


Heat the oil in the saucepan and when it’s warm, add the diced onion
Cook on a medium/low heat until the onion is see-through – at least 10 minutes
Only when the onion is soft enough to be squashed with your wooden spoon add the cabbage, garlic and chilli flakes
Stir them around for a minute or so
Add the coconut milk and water and bring to the boil
Simmer for 10 minutes
If you like, blend a little
If adding more greens, do this now
Squeeze over the lime or lemon
Taste; I recommend a good few shakes of soy/tamari and a pinch of fish sauce

Storage/further meals

Allow to cool to room temperature then cover
You can keep for 5 days in the fridge as long as kept cold and covered
Only reheat what you need at any one time

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