I am sure that March 15th is just like any other day to most of you. Many may know it as the Ides of March, but in our family it is a very special day that we always celebrated. It is the day that my father returned home from the Vietnam War. My father served as police in the Air Force and was overseas in the war for two years. So his homecoming was a big deal to our family. The day he came home my mother (they were engaged at the time), my father’s parents, my aunt Marie (my father’s sister), and my Uncle Frank (my mom's brother) were all at the airport. They say that as my father walked over to them and they all greeted him with kisses, hugs, and cheer. My mom always describes how ecstatic they were to have him back. They would also always explain how in the mist of showering him with hellos and fawning over him they lost my grandfather! They were all looking for him when they found him standing alone, against a wall (inside) with his sunglasses on. He was so happy to see my father, but he didn’t want anyone to see him cry that his son was finally home. It has also been told that my Grandmother left her Christmas tree up (yes it was there until March!) she insisted my father would want to see it since he was not there for the holidays. You can imagine, his homecoming was a very big deal.
So on March 15 every year my mother would tell my father that he could have whatever he wanted for dinner. For reasons unknown to me – maybe it is just because it was the season or maybe he just really likes it- my father would always ask for Corned Beef, Potatoes, Carrots, and Cabbage. (Quite different from the Italian food we were used to eating.) My mom would make it proudly and she always made a trip to the local bread bakery to pick up a loaf of Rye Bread to go with the meal. She would place the meal on the table with mustard and butter to accompany it. Although we would all sit down and share the meal, I always disliked it. Maybe it was the future vegetarian in myself, and not that I have anything against it, but it is something I never enjoyed. But I ate it to celebrate with dad and my family.
This year it will be 44 years my father is home. We are lucky my father made it back, in one piece, and without side effects. Well, he sometimes gets startled when he hears helicopters; but we are all lucky that is it. I wish I could be there to celebrate with my parents this year. I will call like I have every year since I moved away, and I wonder if my mom will still be making him the same meal? I will be celebrating my father’s homecoming anniversary in my own way. I am making a Cabbage Soup and some Irish Soda Bread to finish it off. I think my dad would love this meal. Maybe in the next few years we can celebrate this anniversary together and I can cook for my family…you never know what can happen.
Happy Homecoming Dad!
Potato, Cabbage, and Carrot Soup (serves 6)
3 cups of Russet Potatoes, peeled and cubed small
2 cups of onion, chopped small
2 cups of carrots, sliced
2 ½ cups of cabbage, (green, red, or purple) chopped small
1 ½ quarts of veggie stock
1 tbsp of butter
½ cup of cream
Sea salt and Black pepper to taste
1 ½ tsp of dried dill
Grated Irish Cheddar for topping
First, in a large pot, place your potatoes, onions and carrots and pour your stock over. Bring to a simmer and let it cook together about 15 minutes. You potatoes will begin to break down; which is exactly what you are looking for. Add in your cabbage, butter, and season well with the sea salt and black pepper.
Next, let you soup continue to simmer and have the liquid reduce by a fourth. Turn your burner off and let your soup cool about 15 minutes. With a potato masher, mash your soup together for a bit to even out the chunks.
Finally, place your soup back over medium heat and add in your cream. Sprinkle in your dill and let it all come to a simmer. Give it a taste and season again with the sea salt and black pepper if needed. Serve warm and with the grated cheddar if you wish.
Note: The hue of my soup came from a beautiful purple cabbage I had picked up at the local farmers market. So be prepared that if you are to use a green or red cabbage your soup color will vary.