Recipes Inspired by Musicals: Fiddler on the Roof

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Even if you’ve never seen Fiddler on the Roof, you likely know its most famous song. In “If I Were a Rich Man”, the Russian peasant Tevye sings about what he’d do if he had a lot of money:

“I’d build a big tall house with rooms by the dozen,
Right in the middle of the town.
A fine tin roof with real wooden floors below.
There would be one long staircase just going up,
And one even longer coming down,
And one more leading nowhere, just for show.”

But the great music doesn’t stop there – “Sunrise, Sunset” is wistful, “Miracles of Miracles” is charming, and “Tradition” is the showstopping opening number.

I’ve written before that Andrew’s favourite musical of all time was Damn Yankees, but Fiddler on the Roof would be a very close second. When we saw it in New York, Alfred Molina was cast as Tevye. He was brilliant, as was the rest of the cast.

Cabbage soup is thought of as a poor man’s food, a way to stretch your leftover ingredients into a meal. If that’s true, Tevye and his family must surely have eaten it as much as anything else. Cabbage soup is a traditional Russian food, probably because it’s hearty and warm, and it’s a great way to clean out your vegetable drawer.

And you know what? Even if I were a rich man, I’d still eat this soup.

Cabbage Soup
(adapted from my mother’s recipe file)

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup diced celery
1 - 28 ounce can tomatoes
2 - 5 ounce cans tomato paste
3 cups beef broth (first amount)
2 cups raw potatoes, diced
1 cup raw carrot, diced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
4 cups cabbage shredded very thinly
1/2 – 1 cup beef broth (second amount) (optional)

In a very large soup pot, saute ground beef until browned. Remove ground beef to another bowl and drain most of the fat. Saute onion and celery until soft and browned.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 3 cups beef broth, potatoes, carrots, bay leaves, salt and smoked paprika. Combine thoroughly.
Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove bay leaves and add cabbage. (Note: it’s easier if you do it in that order. I didn’t, and ended up doing a bit of a treasure hunt for the bay leaves.). Add 1/2 to 1 cup beef broth, if required, to thin the soup out a little bit. Combine thoroughly, making sure the cabbage is covered by the liquid. Simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Note: this makes quite a large batch. If you're eating the soup for more than one meal, you may need to thin it out again before heating and serving.


Monica said...

I am on a mission to get some smoked paprika for another recipe and now I know what else to do with it. I already have cabbage in the fridge. : ) I love all kinds of soup and this one would really hit the spot with our freezing temps right now!

Angie's Recipes said...

I am definitely a soup person, esp. when it's rainy and cloudy. This looks hearty, warming and packed full of flavours, Beth.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, I was lucky enough to attend a performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" once - a long time ago, on a school trip of what was then Eastern Germany...seems so long ago now.
Your Cabbage Soup looks like a wonderful, hearty winter soup - perfect for sharing with family and friends!
Hope you are having a wonderful weekend,

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great recipe for a very, very cold day. Stay warm!

Unknown said...

Soup is just so perfect this time of year. I want a big bowl right now!

Kayte said...

I always make a pot of soup to have for the week for lunches or easy dinner or whatever and this looks like it will be my pot of soup this week (a small pot of it anyway). Thanks. A good rep of the musical. :-)

Marcela said...

this is my favorite musical! I saw it hundreds of times ;)
Such a great recipe!

Valerie Gamine said...

With a sub-zero wind chill, a large bowl of this soup & Fiddler on the Roof sound like perfect companions. :-)

Gloria Baker said...

I love your cabbage soup Beth Look wonderful!

Julie said...

Love Fiddler on the Roof!! Your soup looks delicious on this cold winter day!!! Have a good week.

scrambledhenfruit said...

Rich or poor, this soup would be a hearty meal to feed body and soul. I've spent many an hour singing along with Tevye at home where no one else could hear me! :)

Barbara said...

Looks good, Beth. I like the paprika in it. Have never made cabbage soup, but with this weather (yes it even got cold down here) nothing is more comforting.

Beth said...

Barbara, I believe you! My mom's cousins are in Florida, and told her it was too cold to golf. They're diehard golfers, so I know it must be brisk.

Jemi Fraser said...

It's -30 today (up from -40 yesterday) so this sounds about perfect for today! Hope you're staying warm - I see you're getting the extreme cold too

~Sia McKye~ said...

mmm, I love a good cabbage soup. This one has more tomato products in it than I've used but I want to give this recipe a try. I do have some cabbage in the fridge, lol! I have lots of paprika, smoked and regular, on hand. I use it in a lot of recipes.

It's so cold and snowy today. Tonight I'm having a creamy wild game pot pie. It's hearty and warm.

I absolutely love Fiddler on the Roof! Always have. :-)

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

Hi Beth, love recipes that are inspired by music or most anything for that matter, looks so hearty and delicious, hope you had a great week-end.

Caryn Caldwell said...

How funny -- I had forgotten all about FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, and now I've heard the (very infectious) songs referenced twice in as many days. (We were just looking up the lyrics to "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" while looking for alternate titles for my WIP.)

Enjoy the soup! I'm not a cabbage fan, but I hope you loved it.

grace said...

you described me perfectly--never seen the show but definitely know the song! very satisfying soup, regardless of one's income...or lack thereof. :)

Katerina said...

I love tried and true family recipes! I was close to go see this play in the theater but never happened, unfortunately!

Joanne said...

I feel like I have seen Fiddler, but can't remember the plot at the moment. This cabbage soup looks like it would warm me up from the inside out!

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

Oh, this looks SO wonderful and right up my alley! And I agree, even if I were a rich man, I would still eat this soup. Sometimes those more modest meals that were designed to stretch the ingredients are the most comforting, homey, + delicious to me!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

I can see the poor eating this in the winter, especially since those ingredients are just what I have left in the basement refrigerator!

Catherine said...

Dear Beth, I remember the first time I saw Fiddler as a young girl. I loved it then and still do.
The soup is delicious. It is a hearty and healthy soup. xo Catherine

Kitchen Riffs said...

What a great soup! I'd eat this if I were rich, too -- such great flavor. This is such a super looking recipe -- tons of flavor. Thanks.

Juliana said...

Yes, this soup sounds and looks delicious Beth, somehow I always forget to use cabbage when making soups...thanks for the reminder.
Hope you are having a great week :)

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

I love the music from Fiddler---my parents had the record which we sang and danced to as children. This soup looks so delicious and comforting!

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