St. Nicholas Day is celebrated in many countries around the world on December 6th, commemorating St. Nicholas, a Christian saint and bishop known for his generosity and gift-giving. The traditions associated with St. Nicholas Day generally involve children putting shoes outside or by the fireplace for St. Nicholas to put candy or small gifts in the shoes, exchanging small presents among family members, and festive processions or parades through towns.
While there isn't a particular food that is traditionally eaten on this day, I did find a popular recipe for a St. Nicholas Cabbage Soup, which uses root vegetables widely available in winter months, to make a warm and delicious meal. The recipe is adapted from the Twelve Months of Monastery Soups cookbook by Brother Victor Antoine D'Villa Latourette and from the website Simple Nourished Living by Martha McKinnon. Makes 8 servings. Bon Appétit!
2 tbs butter
1 large white onion, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4-6 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 of medium sized white or green cabbage, cored and shredded
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
1 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
8 cups of water
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or dill
homemade croutons (1/2 French baguette, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp each ground garlic, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper)
Wash and peel all vegetables, chop into smaller pieces. Melt the butter in a large soup pot and place all the chopped vegetables, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves in the pot. Cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil and then cook on medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until carrots and potatoes are soft.
While the soup is cooking, make the croutons. Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut a French baguette into 2 by 2 cm cubes. Place all the spices into a bowl and then place the baguette cubes in the bowl. Mix well. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, while mixing, making sure that every bread cube gets some of the oil. Place the cubes on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Turn off heat for soup. Carefully remove the bay leaves and using an immersion blender, puree the soup to your desired consistency. Stir in the cream and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with the homemade croutons and a sprinkling of fresh parsley or dill.