This cabbage soup recipe is light, filling, & so comforting. It’s hard to believe it’s a popular “diet soup” with all the tender, juicy meat & savory broth!
Even though cabbage soup is considered a diet food these days, many eastern Europeans grew up knowing it as a comfort food. Think of it as the Russian version of America’s chicken noodle soup. Every chef makes it a bit different and adds his or her own personal touch. It just so happens that the soup is low calorie and healthy for you!
Preparing this Easy Cabbage Soup Recipe
Putting together this protein-rich cabbage soup recipe only requires some minimal prep and just under an hour’s time.
- Prepare the Veggies; First, clean and dice the potatoes and shred the cabbage and carrots.
- Precook the Meat: Rinse the bone-in meat under cold water. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the meat in the broth concentrate for 30 minutes over medium-high heat.
- Add in the Potatoes & Cabbage: Next, add in diced potatoes and shredded cabbage and cook the soup for 10 minutes.
- Sauté the Carrots, Onions, & Diced Tomatoes: In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions with a little bit of olive oil until golden brown, followed by the shredded carrots and diced tomatoes. Add the mixture to the soup and let it all simmer for a bit.
- Remove the Bones: Next, take the meat out and remove the bones. Add the meat back into the soup and season it to taste with salt. Ladle up a big bowl and enjoy!
5 Tips for Making this Cabbage Soup Recipe
Follow these 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 a super even heat, but it also maintains so much moisture – a great quality for bringing out the best in soups!
- Use bone-in meat for maximum flavor. You can get pretty creative with what meat you use for your cabbage soup. Fatty and bone-in cuts are the best because they enrich the broth with a silky, marrowy flavor. I like to use pork spare-ribs, beef spare-ribs or oxtail.
- Precook the meat until tender. This recipe requires you to boil your meat for 30 minutes before adding in any vegetables for a reason. This step ensures that your meat will be fall-off-the-bone tender. It also seasons your broth by infusing it with the flavors from the bone marrow and collagen.
- Use a veggie slicer to shred your cabbage and carrots. Use a vegetable slicer to shred the carrots and cabbage – it will make your life so much easier, reduce the prep of chopping, and ensure the slices are consistent!
- Sauté the carrot, onions, & tomatoes first. Before adding your carrots, onions and tomatoes to the soup base, it is important that you first sauté them in a skillet. This unlocks the flavors of the veggies and adds some great texture to your 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, & cauliflower are all great options. You can also add in fresh parsley, a couple of bay leaves, or oregano to deepen the flavor.
Different Cabbage Soup Varieties
There’s a couple of fun ways to switch up the foundation of this soup and keep things fresh.
- Vegetarian Cabbage Soup – You can easily make this soup vegetarian-friendly by skipping the meat and substituting mushrooms and swapping the beef broth for vegetable broth. To make it more filling, add in some rice.
- Sausage Cabbage Soup – In a time crunch? Speed up the process by substituting smoked sausages for meat. You can 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!).
- Polish Cabbage Soup – 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 the mix to make the Polish proud.
- My Grandma’s Ukrainian Cabbage Soup (Great for Using Up Leftover Meat) – My grandma loved to pack in the fatty cuts of meat to her version of this soup. Typically, she would use the bits and pieces of leftover meat she used for other dishes throughout the week. She would also always add a hefty amount of sauerkraut to the mix.
Hot Tip: Garnish your cabbage soup with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh chopped parsley or dill.
A Couple Sides for Pairing
For a complete meal, pair the cabbage soup with some no-knead dinner rolls to sop up all that wonderful, marrowy broth. If you want some extra greens, serve it alongside a beet salad with garlic (another Slavic staple that’s naturally low in calories and high in fiber!).
Storing, Reheating, & Freezing Tips
Cabbage soup is the perfect dish for meal prepping. Find all you need to know how to store it here:
- Storing: It lasts 4-5 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container. The kicker? The flavor gets better as it sits in the fridge and marinates in itself. Each bowl just gets tastier and tastier!
- Freezing: Making a big batch of this soup is the way to go! It freezes super well and lasts up to 3 months. Let the soup cool down completely, ladle it into an airtight container, place it in the freezer and have it on hand throughout those cold winter months.
Reheating Tip: Reheat the soup by popping it back into a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through.
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 weight loss?
Yes, cabbage soup is naturally low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and full of nutrition. It’s packed with potassium, calcium, vitamin C.
What potatoes work best in cabbage soup?
Yellow potatoes work best in cabbage soup. They have a super smooth texture and the flavor is naturally buttery. They also don’t have as much starch as russets, keeping the soup more brothy.
How can you flavor bland cabbage soup?
If your cabbage soup is a little dull, spruce it up with some salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t want to add any more sodium, stir in some fresh lemon juice to help brighten the soup.
Other Tasty Soups, Stews, & Chilis to Try
- Cabbage Roll Soup – Slavic cabbage rolls in soup form
- Minestrone Soup – Tomato broth with veggies, pasta, and basil
- Easy Instant Pot Chili Recipe – Ground beef and beans in a rich tomato sauce
- Meatball Kale Soup Recipe – Ground turkey meatballs and kale in chicken broth
- 1 lb bone-in meat pork or beef
- 2 tbsp Beef Better Than Bullion Beef Base
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1/2 small Cabbage head
- 1 large carrot
- 1 small onion
- 10 oz can diced tomatoes
- salt to taste
- olive or avocado oil
- Clean and dice the potatoes into small pieces. Shred the cabbage and carrots.
- Rinse the meat under cold water. In a large soup pot, bring 4 quarts of water to boil. Add in the meat and the Better Than Bouillon Beef Base and cook for 30 minutes.
- Add in the potatoes and cabbage and simmer the soup for 10 minutes.
- Dice the onions and shred the carrots. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions with a little bit of oil until golden brown. Add in the shredded carrots and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the diced tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the meat pieces from the soup and remove the bone. Add the meat back into the soup and toss the bones in the trash.
- Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately and enjoy!
It’s similar to my recipe, but always nice to get more tips. I read some replies that took me back. I did the meat as you said, it was great! Everyone’s recipes are give and take. I like carrots so added more, I don’t eat potatoes anymore so left them out. The recipe was spot on! Thanks for sharing! People need to add/subtract and think. 😊
Hi Kristy, I am so glad that you found a recipe that you love and that it was a success! Thank you for sharing your process and feedback. Enjoy!!
Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe.my family loved it.will be sharing this recipe with my friends.they will like it.
Hi Helan - You are so, so, so welcome. I'm glad you could share this soup with your family - hopefully your friends like it just as much. Have a great rest of your weekend.
Good News, it taste like my mom's cabbage soup. Bad News, my mom was a horrible cook. Where are the spices? Not even salt or pepper?
Hi Todd, you should season with salt as listed in the recipe. Also, if you use Beef Better Than Bullion Beef Base, it has a ton of great flavor. Did you see those listed in the recipe? Also, I would highly recommend great quality diced tomatoes. They will take your soup to the next level!
This recipe telling me beef spare ribs will be fall apart tender in 30 minutes is such a joke. It takes usually up to 2 hours for that type of meat to tenderize and be pull apart tender. It really threw me off.
Hi Cris- apologies that it threw you off. The beef needs to boil on medium/high for a good 30 minutes alone before any other ingredients are added, and then it cooks some more with the veggies before the meat is removed and shredded, bringing the total cook time for the meat closer to an hour I'd say. I hope this helps clarify things. You are also welcome to boil the meat longer to get it even more tender before proceeding with the recipe. Thanks for commenting!
I boiled them for 30 minutes separately, was great!
I am thrilled to hear that! Thank you for sharing!
This soup was a failure. The meat is not going to be tender is 30 minutes. I used Costco's Prime quality chuck roast which is always tender. AIfter 2 hours of cooking, it still wasn't done. I can't imagine why you instructed to cook for only 30 minutes. This recipe doesn't say what kind of potatoes to use. I used russets which would have disintegrated had I put them in at the beginning. To use only one carrot is really strange. Why not more? No way is this recipe done in 30 minutes. I'll go back to my Hungarian Mother's excellent recipe. Your recipe was a waste.
You ARE allowed to think for yourself and read directions carefully while cooking.
Hi J. Marie- I'm sorry to hear this recipe didn't come out as you'd hoped. To clarify- the meat needs to cook by itself for 30 minutes before any other ingredients are added. This cooking time + the additional cooking time after everything else is added allows it to be fully cooked (also, the recipe does indeed take longer than 30 minutes, I apologize if you were led to believe this was a 30 minute recipe, it takes closer to an hour). As far as potatoes- any can be used. I encourage flexibility and creativity with my recipes- if you prefer one potato over another, or more than one carrot, please modify as you desire! I hope this helps clarify things. Take care!
This is horrible cabbage soup.
Hi, Donna. I'm sorry to hear you were disappointed with the recipe. Hope the next one you try is more enjoyable! Take care!
The happy moment of finding the soup I grew up with! My mom would annoy me and put pinto beans in this! The amusement is I grew up in California and now am in East TN. Did I have to get here to find it?
My dad used to make this but not so much as a soup, more like a plate with a whole cabbage, sweet Italian sausages, quarter the potatoes, 2" to 3" carrots, onions in half and seasonings of course...lots of pepper and not so heavy with the salt, Italian seasoning, Basil, a whole clove of garlic minced and maybe 1/2 to a whole tablespoon of paprika.
When done all nine of my siblings, mom and dad too of course sat around the table and piled it in our plates with butter and apple cider vinegar on top of the cabbage.... oh Lord I can taste it now!
That's it...I'm making it this weekend!😛😛😛😛
Dottie/ West Warwick, RI
Take care everyone!!!
Be safe and God Bless "+"
Hi, Dottie! Thank you so much for sharing with us, I love the sweet memory you have of your dad making his famous dish. Enjoy this recipe and take care!
Haha, I'm glad you found a lost childhood recipe, Elizabeth. Enjoy!
My mom would make a "peasant" version of this this that I still love to this day. Pretty much same as your recipe but she would do half raw cabbage and half home made kvashana kapusta. Then at the end of the cooking process, no tomatoes just fry the carrots, and onions with Salo so it's like shkvarki and put all of that in the soup and turn it off. It would be a white soup but so good!!
That sounds delicious! I love it all the classics together 😊
I just made the cabbage soup, I added a bit of Tumeric and 1/2 cup of Israelie couscous. Absolutely beautiful.
I love the idea of those 2 spices! Thank you for your feedback! I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe.
My polish mother uses a ham bone when making this soup with sauerkraut and a large can of tomato puree its great
Those are great tips, thank you, Michael. The ham bone sounds like it adds tons of flavor.
Soup is delicious! Love it sprinkled with parmesan cheese!
I’m going to add the parmesan cheese. I think that will add a like kick of extra flavor. I’m going to add cornbread to the meal.
Those sound like delicious additions, Valerie! Hope you enjoyed!
Debbie, you can never go wrong with a sprinkle of parmesan 🙂
I love cabbage every which way, especially sauerkraut with that zingy sourness. Your soup certainly does not disappoint. As you say, it improves as each day passes and before I knew it I was making another batch the same week (I think it lasted 2 days) my kids(18 & 19) eat like it's a competition and they have hollow legs. This and my homemade bread was simply to die for. Thank you for your delicious recipe.
What an awesome review. Thank you for sharing your feedback. I am so glad to hear this!
This is good with sour cream, too.....
Yes, my family adds sour cream to it.
Loved this recipe of cabbage soup. Thanks for such amazing recipe.
Thank you for sharing your feedback. Glad you loved it.
What is the serving size ?
Hi Tina- it's kind of difficult to calculate the exact nutrition info and serving size, I'd say each serving is roughly 1.5 cups though. Hope this helps!
I've made it with check-in and pork and yes sour cream but it is awesome thanks yummy
You're welcome, Garry! Glad you enjoyed.
Hi there ,Mom and I use a tall pot with a lid ,, and salt pork slices on bottom saute salt pork to render fat , den one or two beef soup bones their usually available about one inch thick with lots meat attached. brown em both sides cover with lots sliced yellow onions den cabbage cut same as onions den a large can of good tomato juice. cover and cook med heat for an hour when done add a splash of white vinegar that gives it that sour kraut taste yummy
Joseph, that sounds really great. It reminds me of the way my grandma used to cook.
It is really cool to read the reply must take lots of time ,..to read all then write back ,,,don't forget to check with yer mom on that potato sausage . Am going to bake bread today or tomorrow AM gonna add what mom Calle fritilla ,spelling ?? rendered down salt pork crisps but in smaller log shaped loafs its always a treat ,,,,,wit some cheese and red wine ....Happy Mothers Day !!!
What cut of meat is "bone-in-beef?"
It can be any cut, bone-in beef has a lot of flavors as you cook the soup broth.
You can use something called flanken: it's short ribs cut crosswise, so it's like strips of meat with little bones along the strip. Perfect for either cabbage soup or borshch. I also like to do this soup sweet and sour: vinegar or lemon juice and sugar. It can be more sour or sweeter, depending on your taste.
Oh yum, thank you for sharing this tip. I will definitely try it in the future!
I think adding some sour kraut would be so yummy and add more flavor
Yes, my mom typically adds it too. She makes her homemade one. I love how diced tomatoes add that fresh sour flavor, also really great.
So how much sauerkraut if bot using the tomatoes?
This would depend on the brand because each one is a bit different in flavor. I would say right around 1 cup.
Would chicken thighs work for this?
Yes , I use chicken thighs sometimes .
Thank you! Turned out great! 🙂
Made this twice in the last week and half and everyone loves because it's yummy. I love it because it's so easy. Everyone's happy! ???
Oh wow! I miss this soup. I need to get bone in meat and make it again.
Just made this for lunch and omg it is so good!! perfect! Followed everything exactly as written, only added some cayane pepper! defiantly will try this one again!
Oh wow! Cayene pepper will make it so healthy! Amazing! Thanks for sharing feedback
How did I not see this soup? Reading all the reviews makes me want to try it! Mmm Does it taste similar to borsch? Lol maybe I'm asking that cause it's similar in color.
Yes, it is technically called borsch but every region calls it differently. I think you will love it 😉
In Russia, this is shchee. Borshch is the red beet soup.
I am German and love European recipes. I have printed off some of your recipes. Can hardly wait to make some of the pastries, they sound amazing. I love to cook and bake and just started working with yeasted pastries. I really like the format you use for us to print the recipes. Definitely will make this soup in cooler weather. Thanks for sharing your recipes 🙂
Oh, thank you Michelle. While traveling we have met a few Germans, I heard all about delicious pastries you guys have. I am looking forward to visiting Germany one day. I hope you love recipes you have on your to do list. Keep me posted on how it goes 😉
So how do i make it with sauerkraut? Can u plz give the original recipe,cuz i really prefer Kapustnyak with sauerkraut instead of fresh cabbage,i think it tastes totally different ! Do i just ommit the tomatoes n add sauerkraut? Thanks!!!
You can omit tomatoes and fresh cabbage and just replace it with sauerkraut. Enjoy 😉
This is Polish not Russian. the Russian version is different and is called Shchi. Many different Slavic groups cross-used recipes but Kapusniak is definitely Polish in origin.
Yes. You're right. It's called kapushniak. Some also add parsnips, celery nob, white portion of leek, paprika powder, cumin & freshly ground nutmeg.
In Ukraine we also call Kapusniak, and Schi - in Russia, the word Kapusniak doesn't sound like russian at all, but we mostly always use sauerkraut cabbage for this soup
Hey Candy 🙂 I am sure, the countries that neighbor they all have similar foods.
Do you drain the tomatoes?
You don't need to drain tomatoes. They provide great flavor for the soup.
This is my fiancé's favorite soup, but his mom makes it with cream of wheat... Do you know how much cream of wheat should be added?
I have never tried this soup with cream of wheat. That sounds very interesting, I am not sure how much of it is added to the soup.
Just made this wonderful soup! It's a winner for sure. Thanks for providing such great and reliable recipes!
Yana, I had a major craving for this soup today, now my mouth is watering. I am glad you guys loved it. About recipes, thank you for support, appreciate people like you. 🙂
Doing now:) But I use need ribs.
I would share with you but. . . It's too good! 😉 made the whole huge pot for just the hubby and myself and it's almost gone! Guilt-free recipes are awesome! 🙂 Thanks again!
Natasha your site is my addiction. I'm staying up at night reading your recipes. Will try this soup on Monday. thank you so much for your recipes. I learn a lot from you.
Wow Vera, I hope you got some sleep 😉 thanks for leaving such a sweet comment. People like you encourage me to keep on going 🙂
Do you use 4 quarts (16 cups) of water or 4 cups?
Yes, 4 quarts for the pot of soup.
My parents and me make a different version of kaputsnyak. With meat like usually and use sauerkraut and millet and no tomatoes in zazharka so it's white like soup. Very yummy and light.
That sounds really interesting, I have never tried anything like that. I may have to try this version of the soup. 🙂
My mother also makes kapusnyak with millet all the time and its OHH SO DELICIOUS! u should definitely try it with millet!
Ok, now I do want to try that for sure. All those Caps, lol!!! So you add millet in addition to all this ingredients?