This cabbage soup recipe features tender, juicy bone-in meat, veggies, and a savory broth. It’s the perfect comfort soup for any time of day!

Cabbage Soup recipe in a bowl

Cabbage soup is popularly considered a “diet food” due to being low calorie, but many Eastern Europeans grew up knowing it as a comfort food called “kapusta soup.” Think of this soup as the Eastern European version of America’s chicken noodle soup. Every chef makes it a bit different and adds his or her own personal touch, so feel free to experiment a little yourself!

So… What’s So Great About Cabbage?

Cabbage is usually not the tastiest vegetable that comes to everyone’s mind first. Most often, people think “tomatoes” or “lettuce” when they think vegetables. Cabbage is the “underdog” in the world of vegetables, but in this case, the underdog wins in health benefits! We incorporate cabbage into our meals in so many ways, like in this pickled cabbage recipe or this roasted cabbage salad. Here are a few reasons why cabbage is such a great veggie, and why this cabbage soup is so good.

  • Inexpensive: Cabbage tends to be a cheaper vegetable, especially when compared to how much nutrition is packed inside!
  • Nutritious: Cabbage is full of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and much more. It also has antioxidants that help prevent damage to your body’s cells.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Cabbage is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that help with pain, fever, and irritation.
  • Good for digestion: Since cabbage has a ton of fiber, it helps keep the digestive system healthy and regular. It also is known to help lower cholesterol levels!
  • Helps with weight loss: Cabbage is also low in calories, which is why it’s a popular veggie in the “cabbage soup diet.” However, remember to eat a variety of foods to meet all of your body’s nutritive needs.

How To Make This Easy Cabbage Soup Recipe

Putting together this protein-rich cabbage soup requires minimal prep and about an hour’s time.

  • Prepare the veggies: Peel and chop the potatoes and shred the cabbage and carrots.
  • Precook the meat: Rinse the bone-in meat in cold water, then bring a large pot of water and beef broth base to a boil. Cook the meat for 30 minutes over medium-high heat.
  • Add in the potatoes and cabbage: Add in the potatoes and cabbage and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Sauté the carrots, onions, & diced tomatoes: In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil until they are golden brown. Do the same with the carrots and tomatoes. Add the mixture to the soup and simmer.
  • Remove the bones: Take the meat out of the broth and remove the bones. Return the boneless meat back into the soup, stir, then season it with salt and pepper. Ladle up a big bowl and enjoy!

Hot tip: Garnish your cabbage soup with a dollop of sour cream and freshly chopped parsley or dill. This is the classic Eastern European way of serving the soup!

Tips for Making This Cabbage Soup Recipe

For the utmost flavor, we’ve compiled a list of handy tips to take your cabbage soup to the next level.

  • Whip the soup up in a Dutch oven: Nothing compares to soup-making in a Dutch oven. Not only does it maintain an even heat, it also maintains so much moisture — a great quality for bringing out the best in soups!
  • Use bone-in meat for maximum flavor: The type of meat doesn’t matter as much as the cut. Fatty and bone-in cuts are the best because they enrich the broth with a silky, marrowy flavor. We like to use pork spare-ribs, beef spare-ribs, or oxtail.
  • Opt for yellow potatoes: The best potatoes for cabbage soup are yellow potatoes. They are smooth and buttery, and have less starch compared to other potatoes. In a pinch, other potatoes may be used — though the texture may be different.
  • Precook the meat until tender: This recipe requires the meat to boil for at least 30 minutes before adding in any vegetables. This ensures the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. It also seasons the broth by infusing it with the flavors from the bone marrow and collagen.
  • Shred the cabbage and carrots with a veggie slicer: Use a vegetable slicer to shred the carrots and cabbage – it makes life so much easier, reduces the prep of chopping, and ensures the slices are even!
  • Sauté the carrot, onions, & tomatoes first. Before adding the carrots, onions, and tomatoes to the soup base, it is important to first sauté them in a skillet. This unlocks the flavors of the veggies and adds great texture to the soup.
  • Add in your favorite ingredients. This soup is super versatile, so feel free to add in your favorite odds and ends. Celery, green beans, broccoli, white beans, and cauliflower are all great veggie options. Herbs like fresh parsley, a couple of bay leaves, or oregano are great to deepen the flavor.
  • Season to taste: If the soup tastes a little bland to your liking, add more salt and pepper. Add smoked paprika for a smoky flavor or cayenne pepper for a kick of heat. For a brighter taste, add in a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Cabbage Soup in the bowl

Cabbage Soup Variations

The base of this soup is absolutely delicious, but why stop there? Here are a few variations to switch up the taste and keep things fresh each time you make the soup!

  • Vegetarian: Make this soup vegetarian-friendly by skipping the meat and substituting with mushrooms. Swap the beef broth with vegetable broth. Then, to make it more filling, add in rice.
  • Sausage: In a time crunch? Speed up the process by substituting smoked sausages for the meat. Get your broth going and add in the sausages alongside the veggies for a faster (and just as delicious) soup (kielbasa or Italian sausage work great!).
  • Hamburger: For a hamburger cabbage soup, use ground beef instead of bone-in meat. Sauté the ground beef in a skillet, then add it to the soup at the end.
  • Polish-style: Traditional Polish cabbage soup calls for a meat trifecta of pork spare ribs, ham hock, and bacon slices. Toss in a pound of fresh sauerkraut to make the Polish proud.
  • Grandma’s Ukrainian cabbage soup: My grandma loved to pack in fatty cuts of meat in her version of this soup. Typically, she used the bits and pieces of leftover meat from other dishes throughout the week. She also always added a hefty amount of sauerkraut to the mix.

Serving Suggestions

For a complete meal, pair the cabbage soup with a few no-knead dinner rolls to sop up all that wonderful, marrowy broth. Or pair with garlicky Ukrainian pampushky (rolls). If you want extra greens, serve it alongside a beet salad with garlic (another Eastern European staple that’s naturally low in calories and high in fiber!).

Storing & Reheating Tips

Cabbage soup is the perfect dish for meal prepping — make a large batch and the soup easily lasts you and your family most of the week! Find all you need to know how to store it here.

  • Refrigerator: To store for up to 4-5 days, pour cooled soup into an airtight container and refrigerate. The kicker? The flavor gets better as it sits in the fridge and marinates in itself. Each bowl gets tastier and tastier!
  • Freezer: Store a large batch of the soup in the freezer for up to three months. Allow the soup to cool down completely, ladle it into an airtight container, place it in the freezer, and have it on hand throughout the cold winter months.
  • Reheating: Reheat the soup by popping it back into a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through. Remember to stir frequently so the soup warms evenly. Or, for a quicker option, microwave in 30 second intervals until the soup is warmed through.

FAQ

Which cabbage is best for cabbage soup?

Green cabbage is best for cabbage soup. It’s milder in flavor and less fibrous than purple cabbage, making it easier to cook down in a shorter amount of time.

Is cabbage soup good for you?

Cabbage soup boasts a ton of great health benefits as it is naturally low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and full of nutrition. The soup is also packed with potassium, calcium, and vitamin C. However, a diet consisting of a variety of foods is needed for a healthy life.

What is the cabbage soup diet?

The cabbage soup diet is a weight loss program where cabbage (a low calorie food) is consumed in large quantities over a short period of time (about a week). It is generally considered unhealthy because the results are unsustainable and food options are extremely limited.

How can you flavor bland cabbage soup?

If your cabbage soup is a little dull, spruce it up with salt and pepper. If you don’t want to add any more sodium, stir in a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to brighten the soup.

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About Author

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Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.