Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage Soup
Sharp and stimulating, this Eastern European favorite is related to borscht, but uses red cabbage instead of red beets. It has a vegetable pickle bite, but far more aromatic and savory because it's steaming hot. The raisins are terrific--a great textual and taste counterpoint. Serve hot as a first course to 8--and follow up with lots of buttery mashed potatoes and whatever. Definitely beer, if you're so inclined.
In a large saucepan, saute the apple and onion in the butter until tender. Stir in the cabbage and saute for 5 more minutes. Pour in the stock and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir in sugar, salt, pepper, celery seed, and raisins--then simmer, uncovered, for an hour. Stir in apple butter.
When ready to serve, ladle into bowls, top with a spoonful of sour cream, and sprinkle with chopped apple.