If my mom's favorite weeknight meal was the white meal, than Paul's mom's was boiled dinner. In Paul's recollection it was cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and possibly celery, all boiled with a ham bone (or a piece of ham? I'm not really up on my pig parts). According to him once his mom made it she would serve it for weeks, although I have a feeling he might be exaggerating. I would sometimes tease him about making him boiled dinner, but had never actually done it because I don't eat pork. It didn't occur to me when I read the recipe, but as soon as I smelled the cabbage boiling I realized, Garbure is a fancy, French version of boiled dinner! It has more ingredients, and the optional duck confit certainly fancies things up a bit, but at it's heart it's a bunch of inexpensive winter vegetables cooked with a small amount of meat to add some flavor. As soon as Paul walked in on Friday night, he said it smelled like boiled dinner. He was amazed by how distinct the smell is--I think it's the cabbage. I was worried he'd complain, but he actually really enjoyed the Garbure. He said it was better than his mom's boiled dinner. (Although he's a smart man and knows which one of us he has to live with, so he definitely might have said that just to make me happy.)
I made a couple of changes to the recipe, based on what I like to eat and what I had around. First, I substituted smoked turkey wings for the ham/pork shoulder. I have no clue what ham tastes like, but I thought the smoked turkey gave the soup an excellent flavor. Second, I coincidentally had some leftover duck fat that I needed to use, so I used that to cook the vegetables. Last, I bought one package of duck confit legs (it had two legs for $5.99) at the supermarket, and added those at the end as Dorie instructs. Served with a freshly baked Challah and salad, this was a dinner that we both enjoyed. I'm not sure what we're going to do with all of the leftovers (I froze some as an experiment), but this is definitely something I'd make again.