Cabbage Soup

Cabbage, the Rodney Dangerfield of vegetables. It just can’t seem to “get no respect”. While under-appreciated, cabbage really is a wonder vegetable. Not only is it relatively inexpensive, but it lasts two or three times as long as any other vegetable in the fridge. Whether raw in a coleslaw, blanched with butter, or stuffed and wrapped, cabbage is a work horse.

After a week with the flu, when I looked in my fridge to see what I could make, the only vegetable in good shape looking back at me was a lovely head of cabbage. Thus the spark of inspiration for this cabbage soup. When you’re sick, if you’re up for making anything at all, you want it to be easy, nourishing, and light. Which is exactly what this cabbage soup is. It’s also incredibly good!

All you need is some fresh cabbage, onions, canned tomatoes, chicken stock, and a few spices. Of course with so few ingredients the quality of the soup relies on the quality of your ingredients. Homemade chicken stock is the best, and a good quality canned tomatoes makes all the difference (we use Muir Glen).

Cabbage Soup Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (or 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (or 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (or 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 4 to 5 cups, packed, 1/4-inch wide sliced green cabbage (from about 1 small cabbage or 1/2 large cabbage)
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon salt (more or less depending on the saltiness of your stock)
  • 1 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 If using whole spices (coriander, fennel, cumin), grind them in a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder until well ground.

cabbage-soup-1

2 Heat olive oil and butter in a 4-quart, thick bottomed pot on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and stir in the ground spices. Cook until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes.

cabbage-soup-2 cabbage-soup-3

3 Add the sliced cabbage to the pot and stir to mix the cabbage with the onions. If you are using unsalted stock, sprinkle the cabbage with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the canned whole tomatoes, with their juices, to the pot. Stir to combine.

cabbage-soup-4 cabbage-soup-5

4 Add chicken stock to the pot. Bring to a simmer and taste for salt. Add more salt to taste. Lower the heat and cover the pot. Let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cabbage is thoroughly cooked.

Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper to serve.

 

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69 Comments

  1. Sheila

    This looks absolutely delicious! I make soup every Sunday. This will be next week’s soup!!!

    • colleen carter

      i just love the soup,its so good just to enhale it with a cold don,t forget to eat it

  2. Cindy Henderson

    Love your recipes

  3. dolly

    Love cabbage but I don’t have any of those spices, I have never used them. Would it taste awful with just the salt and pepper in it?

    • Elise

      It would be fine, though you might want to spice it up a little with some paprika or cayenne. You could also try caraway seeds, or juniper berries. Experiment! You can also add minced garlic to the onions, or some browned Italian sausage to the soup.

    • Bob

      No, just salt and pepper is fine. Go strong on the pepper. I like to brown up some hamburger and throw that in too. Minced garlic is quick and works well.

  4. Michael D

    Thanks for the recipe. We have 20 heads of cabbage that will be ready from the garden very soon. We will definitely give this a try. We use chicken stock as a base ingredient in a lot of our dishes. Would like to add in carrots as well.

    Need a great recipe for sourkraut???

  5. Mary

    This looks fabulous! We love cabbage will have to give this a try…thanks for sharing

  6. Leesa Gentry

    We make a version that calls for onion, bell pepper, cabbage, smoked keibash, diced tomatoes, and rotel tomatoes. Make a wonder soup that is filling and inexpensive.

  7. Melinda

    I was just looking for a cabbage and tomato soup recipe online today. Your timing is perfect! Can’t wait to try it!

  8. Becki's Whole Life

    I’m not sure if its my German heritage, but I love anything with cabbage. This soup sounds wonderful and I bet it is quite filling and flavorful with the different spices.

  9. Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen

    I love making cabbage soup! Thanks for your version. I’ll be trying it for sure.

  10. Robin from Israel

    What a coincidence. I was just looking at the cabbage in my refrigerator this morning and thinking “I should make soup”. This one looks like a great option for me.

    Coriander and cumin seeds are already in my pantry but I’m not crazy about fennel. Would caraway seeds be a reasonable substitution or maybe better to go with hot or smoked paprika?

  11. Susanne

    Hi Elise
    Glad you’re on the mend. This soup looks wonderful — I’m wondering what it would be like with red cabbage. Any thoughts? I have half a red cabbage left from making braised red cabbage with a pork roast (so good). With just my husband and me, I end up with left over vegetables.
    Thanks!

    • Elise

      HI Susanne, red cabbage will turn a rather unappetizing color of blue unless it is cooked in a vinegary solution (then it stays brilliant maroon). So, the taste will be fine if you use red cabbage for this recipe, but the soup might look weird.

  12. Joyce @ MustardSeeds+Hope

    Love the reminder !: cabbage = great! Looks delicious.

  13. Lindsey

    This looks yummy! I love cabbage… especially in homemade fermented sauerkraut!

    I also love this easy recipe: saute cabbage in some butter or olive oil, after a few minutes, sprinkle with a bit of garlic powder and drizzle some soy sauce over it. When the cabbage is softened, drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar. I can eat half a cabbage by myself with this recipe, it’s so good!

    • Kay

      Try sautee’ing garlic with the cabbage instead of sprinkling garlic powder over it. Yum

  14. Karen

    I used the whole seeds and toasted them in a dry frying pan before grinding them. I also added 2 minced cloves of garlic and 1/8 tsp. ground turmeric after the onions had been sautéing for a few minutes and 1/4 c of parsley finely chopped at the end. This is a wonderful soup.

  15. Ann Marie Kelly

    I saw this when you posted it to Facebook, and like many others here, coincidentally had a cabbage that needed a purpose. This did the trick! The soup is very full of flavor despite its simplicity. My only subs: diced tomatoes for the whole and caraway seeds (which I ground) for the fennel. Actually, I was surprised to find coriander seeds in my cabinet. Who knows how old they are! Thanks.

  16. Liz

    Thank you for the nice soup. Love cabbage soup as we had it often growing up.

  17. Diane

    Love cabbage,boiled,baked, fried, fermented or raw. I am vegetarian so will leave out the chicken stock, can’t wait it make it. I work late this week so maybe I will put it in the crock pot and eat it when I get home. Yum.

    • L.D. Meyer

      I don’t know how well the cabbage will hold up in a crock pot all day, it could turn out too soft and slimy even on low. On a personal note I don’t care for cabbage that is over cooked. When I make my traditional “Corned Beef n’ Cabbage” for St. Pat’s I wait and add the cabbage to the crockpot in the last hour of cooking and it comes out to my liking. Well, Bon Appetit, Adios n’ Hasta La Bye Bye!

  18. Nicole

    Yummy! This makes me think a kimchee inspired soup is a must!

  19. Jeffrey A. Hogan

    I’m glad someone had the wisdom to post a comment concerning the toasting of the whole spices. It takes such a short amount of time yet enhances their flavour in ways you can only imagine until you’ve tried it.

  20. susan

    any substitutes for fennel and caraway? i dont care for either
    would it be ok just to use coriander seeds and cumin?
    should i add paprika and or turmeric?
    thanks for this great looking recipe. i have been looking for some
    cabbage dishes and this looks fantastic

    • Elise

      Hi Susan, this soup is open to interpretation and experimentation. Play around with the spices you have and see what you like best!

  21. Sandy S

    Looking forward to trying this recipe Elise! Love cabbage but have never made a cabbage soup. This has some of my favorite spices. I feel lucky to have 2 local sources for buying herbs and spices in small quantities! Easy on the pocketbook and helps with using fresh spices and herbs.

  22. Melinda

    At first my husband dubbed this “weight-loss soup” because of it’s simplicity but after going back for his fourth bowl he finally admitted that he really likes it! It was really easy to prepare with ingredients I regularly have on hand, minus the cabbage which is always available. Super delicious. Glad I made a double batch because dh is sneaking a 5th bowl instead of a late-night snack! Thanks for another great recipe!

  23. Sarah Jean

    Cabbage makes a vegetable soup. I am not familiar with the spices in this one and will have to test them out first. My soup starts out with a pound of browned ground beef (drained of fat), three cans of Swanson’s chicken broth, two potatoes quartered and cut into bite size pieces, one or two chopped onions, two carrots cut across into slices, two cans of Mexican style stewed tomatoes, one can of sliced stewed tomatoes, and half a cabbage cored and chopped and sprinkled over the top of the soup to steam for at least ten minutes or until tender. Salt and pepper if needed. And the last touch, a quarter cup of white wine. I make a lot and send containers home with family members.

  24. Karen

    looks amazing! love cabbage will give it a try with the caraway
    substitution!

  25. A J

    Fabulous! My Lithuanian heritage had a similar soup, but they also used beef bones or short ribs to enrich the broth, with a little tomato paste at the end. The best! Thanx for the memory! A.J.

  26. Dawn

    This recipe is brilliant in so many ways. Simple and tasty, but also it forms a great base for creativity. Other veggies in the fridge? Add them too – I have used up carrots and various types of peppers in this soup. Want a bit more protein? Just add some diced cooked chicken, shrimp or cooked crumbled Italian sausage. For a hearty meal, add a little carb in the form of cooked barley, diced potatoes or even pasta. Very delicious and so flexible. Oh, and it freezes well too!

  27. Sylvia

    I just made a huge pot of cabbage soup a couple days ago. Love to have it on hand so I freeze it in separate containers to grab for a lunch. I will have to try some of the herbs you use in my next batch.

    Sorry to hear you were sick. I guess it’s that time of year for flues and viruses. Hope you’re feeling better.

  28. L.D. Meyer

    Cabbage is a good keeper, I use it to make salads rather than iceberg lettuce. I use cabbage for tacos, fajitas and of course out here on the western plains for our notorious Runzas, aka: bierocks, kraut burgers, pasties, bunzas. Sometimes when I’m hungry on one hand but a little lazy on the other I’ll use sauerkraut instead of cooking down shredded cabbage for my Runzas. Cabbage is one if not the first of the veggies to be cultivated by mankind, its also more nutritious than any lettuce you can buy. Bon Appetit. Hasta La Bye Bye! L.D.

  29. lynda

    I was raised on this soup. having Italian mother and a Polish father we had it all the time. my grandmother made it just the way you did she add Italian sausage to it. what a great cold night soup.

  30. Kiki Corcoran

    This soup looks terrific, tasty, and timely. Love us some cabbage here in the south, and it combines simplicity with good and healthy ingredients. I use a Knorr product from the Hispanic foods section that is a tomato/chicken bouillon that is terrific when making Mexican Rice and I bet it would be great in this soup as well. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Natalie @ Paper and Birch

    We’ve been on a huge cabbage kick lately. This looks fantastic Elise, put this in our menu for next week!

  32. Christian Gehman

    Adding a few peeled, sliced or wedged fresh beets, and changing the spice blend a bit would turn this into a delightful borscht — excellent served with a dab pf sour cream or Greek yogurt. Duck duck broth, or goose broth made from the carcass of a roast goose, are also excellent bases for cabbage soup. And if you have goose broth, I’ll hope you’ve managed to save out some of the goose grease drippings from the roasting pan, which is not only lighter than butter but a very Russian treat spread on black bread and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Wishing all the happiest of midwinter tales ….

  33. Pamela

    This is a winner! Next time I will add minced garlic to the sautéed onions. I did drop a couple of chicken bouillon cubes to the soup as it was cooking. Delicious and healthy, thank you.

  34. Bebe

    I have never made (or eaten) cabbage soup, but yours sounds delicious.

    My late Mother made the best vegetable-beef soup. I used to love to come down the driveway after school and smell it simmering on the stove. The various vegetables were added in sequence depending on the cooking time each required. And at the last, a couple of handsfull of shredded cabbage were added. Yum.

  35. David O.

    My wife and I made this for supper last night. It immediately went on our keeper list. This site has become our “go to” for tasty recipes. Thanks

  36. Suzanna Banana

    Wonderful recipe. I’ve been making a soup like this (without the coriander, fennel or cumin) for many years. Aside from omitting the spices, I add chopped carrots. Just a personal preference… carrot is my favourite veggie. Next time I’ll try it your way.

    I wanted to stop by to tell you I just discovered your site and am in love. Wanna get married?

    So far I’ve planned to make at least 12 of your recipes. Now to find the time to shop for ingredients. Keep up the good work.

  37. Maurice Lane

    I have made Cabbage Soup a meal on occasion by adding a couple of things to this recipe. Brown a pound of lean hamburger, a half cup of diced celery, half cup of green peppers and diced raw potatoes and cook till potatoes are soft. I enjoy this with some garlic bread and that’s a light meal. It freezes well too.

  38. borisa

    This is very popular dish in Balkans. Maybe you can try adding some smoked meat, like bacon or sausages. It just gonna give it a little more aroma from south:)

  39. Mahua

    i have cooked the soup..it is really awesome..but i have also used cornflour to thickend it

  40. Carla

    Hi Elise, In the past week, I have cooked your Salsa Verde Pork Carnitas (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/salsa_verde_carnitas/ and also your Borscht recipe. I love making big pots of soup or stew that we get several meals out of, and those recipes are both winners! And coincidentally, each one called for a quarter head of cabbage. Hmmm, what to do with the rest of the cabbage? I guess I am on my third Simply Recipes great recipe for this week. Thanks!

  41. Slaf

    Love cabbage, but this soup let me down.

  42. Laura Pokorski

    I made this last week but added cooked brown rice & lean browned ground beef. It reminded us of my mother-in-law’s stuffed cabbages, a family fav! Loved the freshly ground spices!

  43. Debra in Israel

    Hi Elise your recipies are always well recieved in my house. This is a great recipie and we love the spices that are popular here in the middle east. Thanks

  44. Patsey Manning

    This looks wonderful. I will make it, using vegetable stock…I think it will be a great new comfort food for me. Thanks for sharing it!

  45. Liviu

    Nice recipe. I love cabbage combined with spices especially pepper or chilli, in any form:)

  46. LeeAnn

    I made this soup at home and it was a huge success! I then posted a link to it on Facebook and got oodles of comments on it and those who made it thought it was awesome! Thanks for a GREAT recipe!!!

  47. Norm

    This was ridiculously easy and very flavorful. I believe it’s the spices which send it out of the ordinary. I saw another commenter who toasted the spices before grinding, and I hadn’t thought of that. I also will try some of the comments which added extra ingredients,

  48. sylvia

    Made this but added radish greens, extra tomatoes, and cannelini beans. Yummy!

  49. Janie

    Made this soup today with organic ingredients, all fresh, toasted the freshly ground spices, and was so surprised at how bland and uninteresting this soup was. I added a lot of spices to kick up the flavor and some kale pesto cubes (frozen from the summer crop of kale) to enrich the broth. I won’t be making this again as I make soups all the time and this one gets zero stars :-((

    • Elise

      Sounds like you may have needed to add more salt. That’s the usual culprit when something turns out bland that shouldn’t be.

  50. Justin

    Made this tonight, very nice! Added some fresh coriander and spring onions at the end and also one grated carrot with the cabbage. Winner winner, will be putting this in the book, thanks!

  51. sue

    Does this soup freeze well? I’ve never made cabbage soup before…thanks

    • Elise

      Hi Sue, I haven’t tried freezing it, so don’t know what to tell you. If you try freezing it, please let us know how it goes!

  52. marie

    I Just made it for dinner…Delicious!

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