Cabbage Roll Soup

Cabbage Roll Soup

I love cabbage rolls.  They are one of my favorite comfort foods.  So when I saw a friend post a cabbage roll soup recipe on facebook I knew I had to try it.  I changed quite a significant part of the recipe, so much so, that the two soups are really not the same.  I'm sure they are both good, but my version has a depth of flavor from sautéing the onions separately first.  Also, we really like spicy food so we added a few tablespoons of homemade hot salsa.  You may substitute with red chili pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, black pepper or hot sauce for the spicy flavor.

Use the biggest soup pot you have because this makes about 4 quarts or 16 cups of soup.

Please be sure to buy plain diced tomatoes, not stewed tomatoes.  Stewed tomatoes have a lot of other seasonings in them that affects the taste and you'll want plain diced tomatoes for this recipe.  Please note that the first set of paprika and salt is for seasoning the ground beef.  The second set of paprika and salt is to season the soup.

For those who like slow cooker recipes you can sauté all of your ingredients as directed below and then place them in a slow cooker.  Just know a slow cooker will take longer to cook everything and I usually am too impatient to use them.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pounds of ground beef, 
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 head of cabbage, chopped (remove core)

1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (NOT stewed tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or hot sauce to taste, optional
2 quarts chicken or beef broth
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon celery salt or kosher salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
additional kosher salt and pepper to taste

2 cups cooked white rice, optional

Garnish with fresh parsley, sour cream and fresh lemon juice, optional

Have both an extra large soup pot and a large skillet next to each other.

In a large skillet over medium high heat sauté the onion in the olive oil.  Let the onion cook for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally and then add the celery.  Cook the celery for another minute or so.  Turn down the heat to medium and sauté the chopped garlic.  (Be careful not to burn the garlic because burnt garlic will make the entire pot of soup bitter.)

Place the sautéed onions, celery and garlic in your soup pot or slow cooker.  Do not turn on the heat for the soup pot or slow cooker until all of your ingredients are inside.

Back to the skillet.  Season the ground beef with 3 teaspoons or more of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of paprika and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.  Heat the skillet to medium high and cook the ground beef completely.  Transfer the cooked beef to the soup pot.  Leave any drippings from the beef in the skillet because you will use that fat to cook the cabbage.

With the skillet still on medium high, cook the chopped cabbage in the beef fat.  You will need to do this in two batches since all of the cabbage won't fit in the pan.  If you don't have enough fat to cook the cabbage in the second batch then add a little olive oil.  Cook the cabbage until it gets slightly brown.  Add the cooked cabbage to the soup pot or slow cooker.  You are now finished with the skillet.

Turn the soup pot on to medium heat.  Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, broth, paprika, celery salt, Worcestershire and bay leaves.  Bring the soup to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and let it cook for at least five minutes.  The longer it cooks the more the flavors will develop, so it can sit there simmering for awhile, but if you are in a hurry to eat it will be ready that quickly.  If you are using a slow cooker I'm sure it will be delicious cooking long and slow all day long.  

If you like rice, add the cooked rice and bring the soup to a boil again before serving.  You can also put cooked rice in a bowl and pour the soup over the rice.

Optional garnishes are fresh chopped parsley, sour cream and a squeeze of lemon.  I actually put some lemon zest in mine because I love lemons.

This soup freezes well and will also keep in the refrigerator for a week.

Maili Halme



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