This is a cheerful, vibrant soup that ticks all the flavor boxes. It’s a soup I make all year, as it’s both comforting in winter and vibrant enough to eat on a colder spring or summer day too (think borscht). Sweet red cabbage comes with a pickled edge, earthy caraway and freshness from a couple of apples. The crunch from buttery toasted walnuts, brightness from dill and some leveling creaminess from crème fraîche finish it off. I use an oat crème fraîche here, but a dairy version or some thick Greek yogurt would work too for non-vegans.
- First, put the cabbage into a bowl with a good pinch of salt and the red wine vinegar. Squeeze together in your hands, then put to one side to pickle, while you start on the soup.
- Melt a little butter or heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium-low heat.
- Add the onion and celery and sweat until soft and translucent, stirring from time to time. It will take about 15 minutes.
- Once the onions are soft and sweet, add the caraway seeds and stir for a minute. Turn the heat up a little and add the apples and three-quarters of the cabbage, then fry for a further 5 minutes until the cabbage begins to soften.
- Add the stock, balsamic vinegar and honey or agave. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and add some oil. Once it's really hot, add the remaining cabbage and cook until crisp. For the last couple of minutes add the walnuts and half the dill.
- Back to the soup. Stir in the rest of the dill and season to taste with salt and pepper. You can leave this as it is, but I like to blitz it with a handheld blender to make a vibrant purple soup. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and top each serving with the fried cabbage and walnuts, a spoonful of crème fraîche, sour cream or yogurt and some more dill if you like.