Cabbage Roll Soup

updated Oct 1, 2022
Cabbage Roll Soup Recipe

All the classic flavors of stuffed cabbage rolls stewed together into an easy, filling soup.

Serves6 to 8

Makesabout 3 quarts

Prep15 minutes

Cook50 minutes

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cabbage roll soup sits in a large pan with greens near it and a metal ladle inside
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Stuffed cabbage rolls are time-intensive labors of love, involving blanching leaves in a big pot of boiling water, making filling, and putting together a sauce to simmer all those cute little parcels in. While they’re super-satisfying to make and serve, it’s hard to pull them off in a short amount of time, not to mention the mountain of dishes you have to wash afterward.

But you can channel all the same flavors and ingredients into one hearty, just-as-flavorful, budget-friendly soup instead. Filled with nuggets of ground beef, tender rice, a savory tomato broth, and lots of cabbage and carrots, this warming soup can be on the table in about an hour, with most of that being simmering, hands-off time.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

The Key to Flavorful Soup

The key to any good soup is building layers of flavors that mix and mingle, and this cabbage roll soup is no exception. Start by browning onions, ground beef, and paprika together (yup, at the same time!), and choose lean ground beef so the soup doesn’t end up too fatty.

Next, add a box of beef broth, both diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, and some water to make the signature tomato-based broth, and don’t forget to scrape up all those browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Brown sugar and apple cider vinegar step in next to form that balance of sweet and tangy that’s the hallmark of stuffed cabbage. (We’ve skipped the raisins in this soup, but feel free to add a handful!) To give the soup an easy shot of deeper flavor, shake in some Worcestershire sauce before adding the final mixture of shredded green cabbage, carrots, and uncooked white rice.

From this point on, it’s just a hands-off 30 minute simmer time for the vegetables to get tender and for the flavors to meld before you’re sitting down to a steaming bowl of soup.

I love this gluten-free soup because it’s filling from the rice and beef but still gives me a good dose of vegetables. It’s a one-dish meal that makes a generous three quarts so that there’s enough left over to stash away in the fridge or freezer for an easy lunch. If the soup seems thick upon reheating, just add a little water to thin it back out and re-season with some salt and pepper if needed.

Want to make traditional stuffed cabbage rolls? Try these recipes instead.

Cabbage Roll Soup Recipe

All the classic flavors of stuffed cabbage rolls stewed together into an easy, filling soup.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Makes about 3 quarts

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 pound

    green cabbage (about 1/2 medium head)

  • 2

    medium carrots (about 8 ounces)

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    paprika

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

  • 1 (32-ounce) box

    beef broth

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes

  • 1 (8-ounce) can

    tomato sauce

  • 1 cup

    water

  • 2 tablespoons

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    apple cider vinegar

  • 1

    bay leaf

  • 1/2 cup

    uncooked long-grain white rice

  • 2 tablespoons

    fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 2 1/2 cups), mince 2 garlic cloves, and place both in the same bowl. Core and chop 1 pound green cabbage into 1-inch pieces (4 to 5 cups), peel and dice 2 medium carrots, and place both in second bowl.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic, 1 pound lean ground beef, and 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the beef is cooked through and the onion is softened, about 10 minutes.

  3. Add 1 box beef broth and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon. Add 1 can diced tomatoes and their juices, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, and 1 bay leaf. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over high heat.

  4. Add the cabbage and carrots and 1/2 cup uncooked white rice. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice and cabbage are tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves if desired.

  5. Discard the bay leaf. Taste and season the soup with more salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with the parsley if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days. The soup can also be frozen up to 3 months. Reheat over low heat, adding water as needed if the soup has thickened.