Not Your Grandmother's Cabbage Roll Soup

By • January 9, 2014 • 14 Comments

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Author Notes: My Mother and Grandmother made stuffed cabbage rolls on a regular basis. It was a part of their heritage from Eastern Europe; my Mother prided herself on making the best stuffed cabbage rolls that anyone had ever tasted. While visiting my Mother years ago, I decided that it was time that I learned her and my Grandmother's recipe for making them. Mom and I spent a memorable afternoon boiling and rolling cabbage around ground beef and rice. The rolling had to be just so, with the edges tucked and sealed before being placed in the pot atop shredded cabbage to protect the leaves from burning. My Mother’s hands were as deft as mine were clumsy and hesitant. And I learned more than making cabbage rolls that day: I learned that It took patience and practice. We laughed a lot and I also learned what made her cabbage rolls so good -- it was love that she put in that pot along with the ingredients. I still make her version of cabbage rolls when I have the time and smile at the memories that it evokes. But a few years ago a friend of mine gave me a recipe for cabbage roll soup that was based on all of the flavors found in stuffed cabbage rolls. I have adapted it over the years and hope that you can taste both the love that went into it and the heritage of a good stuffed cabbage roll.lakelurelady

Food52 Review: This recipe makes a terrific, complex soup. I love stuffed cabbage, so I thought I would know what it would taste like, but it was so much better than I had imagined. It was unexpectedly rich and had great texture contrasts -- the slightly chewy meatballs played off of the silky cabbage. I served it with good pumpernickel bread, sour cream, and freshly grated horseradish. Annie stader

Serves 6

For the soup:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head of cabbage, shredded
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 5 cups water

For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground round
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  1. In a large Dutch oven, sauté onions and garlic over medium heat in olive oil until soft. Add salt and pepper. Add shredded cabbage and lightly sauté until soft. Add tomatoes with their liquid, tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, cranberries and 5 cups of water. Stir to blend.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix all meatball ingredients. Form cocktail size meatballs from mixture and add to liquid. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
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Comments (14) Questions (0)

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5 months ago Annie stader

I think you can use whatever you would like for the meatballs. I just made it again with ground goat that we got in our CSA dairy box. It is pretty lean and it was great.

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4 months ago lakelurelady

I agree Annie. Any ground meat would be good.

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5 months ago sticksnscones

This sounds fabulous but I was wondering if it might work with ground chicken or turkey instead?

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4 months ago lakelurelady

It would sticksnscones. Would be interest to hear about your results.

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5 months ago Annie stader

It was such a great pleasure to review this soup! I have also send the recipe to everyone I know who cooks!

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5 months ago lakelurelady

Thanks Annie. That makes me very happy.

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5 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Congrats on the Community Pick! I cannot wait to try this one. Perfect for January. ;o)

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5 months ago lakelurelady

Thank you Antonia. I hope you enjoy it!

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5 months ago lakelurelady

Thank you Annie stader. I am so glad that you liked my soup.

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over 1 year ago ellenl

Have you seen the Gourmet recipe for "unstuffed cabbage"?

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over 1 year ago lakelurelady

I just looked at it ellenl. So glad you let me know about it. It sounds terrific and I know I would love it. Love the same use of dried cranberries and the sweet and sour element.

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over 1 year ago loubaby

Is this really sweet?....the sugar and cranberries?..I am polish and we make cabbage rolls, but ours are not sweet...we do put a sour cream/tomato soup sauce over ours after baking with canned tomatoes in the oven

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over 1 year ago lakelurelady

Hi loubaby, It does have a sweet element to it, but not overly so to my taste. I actually reduced the sugar from the original recipe. Thanks for your comment.

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over 1 year ago lakelurelady

By the way, my Mother's recipe was not at all sweet and she also used tomato soup like you. But she cooked it slowly on top of the stove.