CABBAGE SOUP LOADED WITH NUTRITIOUS VEGGIES on your table in just over 40 minutes!
This Cabbage Soup recipe isn’t just boring vegetables, but carrots, celery, green beans, tomatoes, kidney beans and cabbage swimming in the most dynamic Italian spiced tomato broth. It’s healthy, hearty, comforting, naturally gluten free and extremely versatile. You can swap the vegetables for your favorites and even add Italian sausage, beef, chicken, ham or corned beef and/or rice, barley or pasta – all instructions included! This low-calorie meal is quick and easy but full of flavor AKA healthy comfort food. It also keeps extremely well for easy lunch or dinner throughout the week.
WHAT IS CABBAGE SOUP?
It doesn’t get much more hearty, healthy and comforting than Cabbage Soup. Cabbage Soup is popular throughout the world from Russia to Ireland, to Germany to Italy, and although there are countless variations, they all have one thing in common – they’re loaded with vegetables and cabbage swimming in an herbilicious broth.
When you think of Cabbage Soup, you likely are thinking of the Italian seasoned version with a warm, fragrant tomato broth. This soup became extremely popular in the United States during the Cabbage Soup diet fad in the 80s. While I don’t promote eating nothing but Cabbage Soup for a week, I do promote a few hearty bowlfuls.
Cabbage Soup is characterized by:
- tomato broth
- diced tomatoes
- loads of non-starchy vegetables (although I LOVE potatoes in my version)
- Italian seasonings
What does cabbage soup taste like?
All too often Cabbage Soup broths taste like flat, bland, watered down tomato juice BUT this Cabbage Soup boasts a full-bodied, rich, savory, multi-dimensional broth that you will swoon over. I adapted it from my Minestrone Soup recipe and Italian Vegetable Soup, which are already beloved favorites and now this Cabbage Soup will be too.
The soup broth is spiked with aromatic onions and garlic, Worcestershire for a slight tang, chicken bouillon for complex salty flavor, tomato sauce for a hint of tomato, and a bevy of handpicked seasonings. They all work together to create a delectable spectrum of flavor in every luscious slurpful. So, be prepared for this Cabbage Soup to transform your non-veggie lovers into Cabbage Soup lovers!
CABBAGE SOUP RECIPE
I wanted to share this Cabbage Soup recipe in time for St. Patrick’s Day next week but honesty, we love this soup year-round. It might be healthy, and so healthy it inspired a whole diet fad, but more importantly, it is DELICIOUS (or at least this flavorful version is), quick and easy to make, inexpensive, packed with nutritious ingredients and makes savory leftovers that reheat well.
More reasons to love cabbage soup recipe:
Versatile. This Cabbage Soup recipe is the ultimate clean-out-the-produce-drawer meal – so you can always make it with whatever you have on hand! And of course, you can also add whatever else you want to such as protein, pasta or rice. As long as you follow the broth recipe, you will always have the best Cabbage Soup of your life.
Easy. This Cabbage Soup recipe just requires chopping vegetables, sautéing the onions, dumping in the vegetables and simmering away. The most time-consuming part of this soup is chopping the vegetables, but it can be done ahead of time or you can even purchase bags of chopped veggies.
Meal-in-one. This Cabbage Soup recipe is so chock full of vegetables as well as fibrous beans so it’s a meal-in-one all made in less than 45 minutes! You can skip the sides all together because it is stand-alone worthy or serve it with no-fuss sides like a simple green salad and crusty bread.
Makes a large quantity. This easy Cabbage Soup recipe makes a large pot full so it’s perfect to feed your entire family (hopefully with leftovers) or for meal planning throughout the week.
Pep Ahead & Make Ahead. You can prep all of the Cabbage Soup ingredients days ahead of time then just toss them together when ready to cook OR you can make the entire soup days in advance and reheated because it tastes even better the next day!
Healthy. There is nothing like slurping hot, flavorful soup to warm you up – especially when it’s guilt free! It’s low calorie, bursting with nutrients, gluten free and can be made vegan by swapping the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
What Vegetables Go in Vegetable Soup with Cabbage?
There really is no right or wrong when it comes to what vegetables to add to Cabbage Soup although I highly suggest starting with the divine trio of carrots, onions and celery to create the flavorful base. I also like to include varying textures such as crisp-tender green beans and buttery, soft potatoes. My Cabbage Soup recipe includes:
- Cabbage: I recommend using standard green cabbage instead of savoy cabbage (becomes too soft) or any other cabbage.
- Potatoes: are optional, but I love the tender, morsels with hearty cabbage. You will want to use a waxy potato such as red potatoes, Yukon, new potatoes or fingerling potatoes. Waxy potatoes do not absorb moisture while they cook so they retain their shape despite extended high heat.
- Carrots: medium potatoes will do the trick. Please don’t use baby carrots as they aren’t nearly as flavorful.
- Celery: chop the celery a little larger than the carrots because they cook more quickly.
- Green Beans: I like fresh green beans but they are not my favorite vegetable – but I LOVE them in this Cabbage Soup recipe – I highly recommend them! You can also use canned green beans but they will not have the same texture.
- Aromatics: onions and garlic are flavor powerhouses and absolutely essential. Fresh is best.
Can I use Coleslaw Mix instead of Cabbage?
Please do not use coleslaw mix because the cabbage is sliced thinly and will become soft very quickly and not keep as well. You want to chop your own cabbage so you can keep it at least ¼-inch thick.
Can I use Russet Potatoes?
Please do NOT use russet potatoes because they are very starchy, easily absorb liquid and will fall apart or become mealy in the soup.
CAN I USE FROZEN VEGETABLES?
Absolutely! Add a package of your favorite vegetables and simmer for about 25 minutes.
What goes in Cabbage Soup Broth?
Cabbage Soup boasts a fragrant tomato broth made with pantry friendly ingredients. You will need:
- Chicken broth: use low sodium broth so we can control the salt.
- Tomato sauce: I prefer tomato sauce in this Cabbage Soup recipe instead of tomato paste and V8 because it adds extra body.
- Fire roasted diced tomatoes: are tomatoes that have been roasted which gives them a complex smokiness and removes the acidic bite. Fire roasted tomatoes are located next to the traditional diced tomatoes – just make sure you purchase the ones without any added seasonings. You can use plain diced tomatoes if you can’t locate fire roasted.
- Worcestershire sauce: adds a depth of complex savory, slightly tangy flavor.
- Lemon juice: I splash of lemon juice at the very end brightens all of the flavors.
Can I use Vegetable Broth?
I use chicken broth in this Cabbage Soup recipe because it is more flavorful than vegetable broth but you are welcome to use vegetable broth instead, just make sure it is low sodium then season with salt to taste.
WHAT SPICES DO YOU PUT IN VEGETABLE SOUP WITH CABBAGE?
Cabbage Soup boasts a custom blend of Italian seasonings. You will need:
- bay leaf
CAN I USE FRESH HERBS?
I prefer dried herbs in the actual soup because they get added to the soup at the beginning which infuses the broth with flavor. You may use fresh herbs, but you will need three times the number of fresh herbs to dried herbs which can distract from the soup. Take care to add fresh herbs towards the end of cooking so they stay fresh and flavorful.
How to Make Cabbage Soup
Cook onion, carrots and celery. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven/soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
Add vegetables, broth and seasonings. Add green beans, potatoes, fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices, kidney beans, tomato sauce, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasonings.
Simmer soup. Cover soup and bring to a boil. Uncover and reduce to a gentle simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Stir in the cabbage. Cover and simmer for a few minutes more, just until the cabbage has wilted. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper to taste (I add ¼ tsp salt).
Cabbage Soup recipe VARIATIONS:
This Cabbage Soup is SO versatile and essentially a chameleon when it comes to add-ins. Here’s a snapshot of options which I’ve gone into greater detail below on how to actually cook them in the soup:
- Swap veggies. The vegetables are super flexible so just toss in whatever you have on hand or your family favorites.
- Add protein. You can add leftover ham, turkey, rotisserie chicken or any other cooked protein at the end of cooking or you can add your own raw chicken, ground beef, ground turkey or Italian sausage and cook it with the soup.
- Add pasta. Add your favorite small pasta along with additional broth.
- Add grains. Add white rice, brown rice, wild rice, leftover rice, quinoa or lentils.
- Make it spicy. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and/or additional pepper for a spicier soup and to awaken all of the flavors. You can also saute a seeded, chopped jalapeno with the onions.
- Add Parmesan: Stir in freshly grated Parmesan at the end of the cooking.
What other Vegetables can I add to Cabbage Soup recipe?
- Bell peppers: any color will taste great! Add them the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Parsnips: you can swap them for the potatoes or add them in addition.
- Mushrooms: cremini/baby bella mushrooms will have the most flavor.
- Broccoli: chop into bite size pieces and add with the broth.
- Cauliflower: chop into bite size pieces and add the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Zucchini: slice and quarter zucchini and add at the same time as the broth. Slice zucchini on the thick side, about ¼-inch so it doesn’t get too soft by the time the potatoes are done.
- Corn: you can use canned, drained sweet corn or frozen sweet corn – no need to thaw. Add with the broth.
- Peas: thawed petite peas – add at the end and warm through just for a minute or so.
How to Add PROTEIN TO Cabbage SOUP recipe
This Cabbage Soup recipe doesn’t have any meat – but it would be delicious with any protein!
- Cabbage Soup with Ground Beef: If you’re looking for more of a Cabbage Roll Soup flavor, add some lean ground beef. Brown beef with the onions, crumbling as you cook, until almost cooked through; drain most of the grease, then add the carrots and celery and cook 3 additional minutes; drain grease then continue with the recipe.
- Cabbage Soup with Italian sausage: Brown the sausage with the onions crumbling as you cook, until almost cooked through; drain most of the grease, then add the carrots and celery and cook 3 additional minutes.
- Cabbage Soup with Sausage: Brown kielbasa or Polish sausage then remove to a plate. Slice or chop into bite size pieces then add back to the soup with the broth to simmer with the vegetables.
- Cabbage Soup with Ground Turkey: Brown turkey with the onions until almost cooked through then add the carrots and celery and cook 3 additional minutes. I also like to season my ground turkey with 2 teaspoons beef bouillon or better than bouillon for every one pound of ground turkey to infuse it with flavorful beefy goodness.
- Cabbage Soup with Chicken: Sear boneless, skinless chicken thighs for about 2 minutes per side then remove to a plate. Cook the onions, celery, carrots according directions. Add the chicken back to the pot with the rest of ingredients, simmer for 12 minutes or so until tender enough to shred; remove and shred then add back to the soup at the end of cooking just to warm through.
- Cabbage Soup with Meatballs: You may make your own meatballs from ground beef, pork, lamb, turkey or chicken, just keep in mind the higher the fat content, the juicier the meatballs. Roll the meatballs with a 1 1/2 teaspoons scoop to make 1-inch-diameter meatballs. Add them to the soup and cook about 15 minutes or until cooked through. You will need to add additional broth due to the extra volume of meatballs.
- Cabbage Soup with Corned Beef: Cabbage with corned beef is especially festive for St. Patrick’s Day. You can either use leftover corned beef or cook corned beef specifically for this recipe. You will want to reduce the seasonings in the Cabbage Soup recipe because corned beef is SO flavorful and salty. You can even season the soup to taste at the end of simmering. Cook corned beef according to package directions either in a Dutch oven or crockpot until shredded tender. You might want to do this the day before to save time and so you can scrape off excess hardened fat after refrigerating.
- Cabbage Soup with Bacon: Cook the thick-cut bacon until crispy then remove from the pot. Reserve some of the drippings to cook the vegetables in. Add the crumbled bacon to the soup at the end of cooking.
- Cabbage Soup with Seafood: Cook salmon or shrimp just until cooked through. Stir seafood into the soup at the very end of cooking just to warm through.
- Cabbage Soup with Leftover or Rotisserie Chicken: add at the end of cooking and heat through.
- Cabbage Soup with Ham: add at the end of cooking and heat through. Ham can be quite salty so reduce the salt in the recipe and add salt to taste.
How to Add Pasta to VEGETABLE SOUP WITH CABBAGE
You can add any small pasta to this Cabbage Soup recipe such as small/mini pasta shells, orzo, ditalini (the small short tubes), acini de pepe or mini penne. You just want something small so it blends with the vegetables and doesn’t overwhelm them. Add the pasta to the soup towards the end of cooking and cook 8-10 minutes or just until al dente – meaning it has a little bite to it because it will still cook a little once you remove the soup from the heat – you don’t want mushy pasta!
You can also cook your pasta separately if you plan on freezing the Cabbage Soup or add leftover pasta.
How to Add RICE To VEGETABLE SOUP WITH CABBAGE
- White rice: You can add long grain white rice and cook for the last 12 minutes or until tender.
- Wild rice or brown rice: You can also add brown rice or wild rice blend but they will take closer to 45 minutes to cook. If you choose either of these rice options, chop your vegetables larger so they don’t overcook. Also, cover the pot and displace the lid about an-inch or so to prevent too much liquid from evaporating. You still many need to add additional broth at the end of cooking.
- Leftover rice: Add any leftover cooked rice at the very end of cooking and warm through.
What else can I add to CABBAGE SOUP Recipe?
- Beans: I love the addition of kidney beans or cannellini beans to Cabbage Soup for their slight sweetness, creaminess and meaty texture, but you can pretty much add any beans you have on hand. If beans are not your thing, you can skip them altogether – no need to make any other adjustments to the recipe.
- Chickpeas: You may also use 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas/garbanzo beans instead of kidney beans. Add to the soup the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Barley: Barley is another delightful textural addition like I use in my Beef and Barley Soup. You will want to use pearl and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Lentils: Add 1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed at the same time as the broth. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape.
- Quinoa: For a higher protein option, you can add a about ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained and simmer for about 25 minutes.
Tips and Tricks for Cabbage Soup Recipe
- Prep ahead: This Cabbage Soup comes together very quickly – the only prep work you have to do is chop your veggies. To save time and make this recipe almost “dump and simmer,” you can prep your vegetables in advance, purchase pre-chopped veggies or use frozen vegetables.
- Buy/prechop Mirepoix. You can purchase mirepoix by the jar and keep it in your refrigerator (I have a few friends with young children that swear by this shortcut)!
- Customize Veggies: This Cabbage Soup is very forgiving when it comes to customizing the veggies with whatever you have on hand.
- Add protein. I love this Cabbage Soup as the base for whatever meat we have on hand or whatever we’re craving. It’s fabulous to throw in some shredded rotisserie chicken, any type of ground meat (turkey, beef or Italian Sausage) or even meatballs!
- Scale Down: This recipe makes a lot of servings so I would recommend scaling down if you don’t have a large family and don’t want leftovers. If you do love leftovers (raising my hand high), then you will love leftover Cabbage Soup for an easy lunch or dinner!
- Rice or barley: I am a HUGE rice and barley fan, so I will often add either one to the soup for more textural interest.
- Consistency: The “chunkiness” of a soup is totally personal preference. For a less chunky Cabbage Soup, simply add additional water at the end of cooking.
CAN I DOUBLE VEGETABLE SOUP WITH CABBAGE RECIPE?
Yes! This Cabbage Soup recipe is easy to double or triple for a crowd. When doubling recipes, I do 1 1/2x the salt instead of 2x and then add salt to taste if needed. You can leave all of the other measurements the same.
Crockpot Cabbage Soup
- Add all ingredients to a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Add cabbage and cook an additional 30 minutes or until wilted to desired consistency.
WHAT CAN I PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME?
Although this Cabbage Soup is very easy to make, it does require some chopping. Fortunately, you can do ALL of the prep work ahead of time:
- Veggies: chop all the vegetables and aromatics the night before and place them in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator according to when they are added to the soup.
- Potatoes: The only vegetable that needs special attention are the potatoes. Chopped potatoes need to be submerged in water, covered with plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator or else they will brown due to oxidation. By keeping them submerged, however, I guarantee they will look as good as new!
HOW DO I STORE Cabbage Soup RECIPE?
Let Cabbage Soup come to room temperature then transfer the soup to an airtight container or separate containers for meal prep. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
HOW DO I REHEAT VEGETABLE SOUP WITH CABBAGE ?
- Crockpot: Transfer soup to a crockpot and heat on low for 1-3 hours. The time will depend on how much soup you have remaining.
- Stove: Alternatively, you can reheat large batches on the stove over medium low heat, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes.
- Microwave: For smaller batches or individual servings, transfer soup to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lids or paper towel. Microwave for 2 minutes, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.
CAN I FREEZE Cabbage Soup RECIPE?
If you are making this Cabbage Soup just to freeze, then I would omit the potatoes because potatoes do not freeze-and-reheat as well. You can still enjoy potatoes in your current soup and freeze the leftovers without potatoes by cooking the potatoes separately. To steam your potatoes, place them in a microwave safe bowl with about ¼” of water up the sides, cover, and microwave until tender, about 8 minutes. Add potatoes to the portion of the soup you are not freezing.
To freeze Cabbage Soup recipe:
- Cool: Allow soup to cool completely before freezing to preserve the integrity of the ingredients and so it doesn’t linger in the “danger zone” temperature for too long.
- Package: Transfer soup to a freezer safe container or smaller containers.
- Freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Defrost/Reheat. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat on the stove or microwave per instructions.
WHAT GOES WELL WITH CABBAGE SOUP?
This Cabbage Soup is a meal in-in one with tons of veggies so the side dishes can be minimal.
- Fruit: Fruit is a welcome sweet, fresh contrast against the robust, hearty soup. Keep it simple with whatever fruit is in season or try my Tropical Fruit Salad, Perfect Fruit Salad Winter Fruit Salad, Cranberry Pomegranate Ambrosia Salad or Berry Salad in Honey Mascarpone.
- Bread: Mopping up soup with bread is always a win! Serve Cabbage Soup with a big loaf of crusty bread, Moist Sweet Cornbread, softy and fluffy Dinner Rolls, Parmesan Breadsticks, my favorite Garlic Bread or Pesto Pull Apart Bread.
is cabbage soup good for weight loss?
This Cabbage Soup recipe can be part of a healthy diet because it’s packed with vegetables AKA it’s packed with vitamins, potassium, dietary fiber, and folate. It’s a delicious, easy, low calorie way to get your vegetables in. Eating vegetables that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may also reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke and may protect against certain types of cancers.
Here is just a glimpse of some of the health benefits of the vegetables in this Cabbage Soup recipe:
- Cabbage is a low-calorie vegetable but rich in vitamin C, K, folic acid, calcium, potassium, and fiber. Eating a diet high in cabbage may help lower the risk of certain diseases such as cancer, improve digestion, combat inflammation, improve blood pressure and promote bone health. Cabbage also contains powerful pigments called anthocyanins, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Carrots are rich vitamin K, potassium and beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A which promotes good vision and eye health and is important for growth, development, and immune function. Eating carrots is also linked to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease (due carotenoids).
- Celery is very low in calories and carbohydrates and a good source of fiber. Diets rich in fiber can improve digestive health, lower cholesterol levels and may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- Green beans are a good source of vitamin C, folic acid, iron, and potassium. Evidence suggests that a diet high in vitamin-C-rich foods is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. Folic acid supports healthy cell division and is especially important if you are pregnant as it promotes proper fetal growth and development to reduce the risk of birth defects. Potassium can help improve blood pressure, heart and kidney disorders, and anxiety and stress. It also helps enhance muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions, and the nervous system. Iron helps to preserve many vital functions in the body, including general energy and focus, gastrointestinal processes, the immune system, and the regulation of body temperature.
- Potatoes, with skins, are a good source of protein, iron, vitamin C, and potassium – so feel free to leave the skin on for added health benefits.
Looking for more healthy soup recipes?
- Chicken Tortilla Soup or Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup Verde
- Cauliflower Soup
- Potato Leek Soup
- Tom Kha Gai
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Butternut Squash Soup
- White Chicken Chili (Lightened Up)
- Egg Drop Soup
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