What to CookEastern European

The Speedier, Just-as-Tasty Way To Enjoy Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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Every so often, we scour the site for outstanding recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature—this twist on an Eastern European classic comes from lakelurelady.


Growing up, my mother and grandmother made stuffed cabbage rolls on a regular basis. It was a part of their Eastern Europe heritage, and my mother prided herself on stuffing the best cabbage rolls that anyone had ever tasted. While visiting Mom years ago, I decided it was time I learned the family recipe.

(This isn't that recipe.)
(This isn't that recipe.) Photo by Julia Gartland

We spent a memorable afternoon boiling and rolling cabbage leaves around seasoned ground beef and rice. The rolling had to be just so, with edges tucked and sealed. We placed them 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. Through the laughter, I learned part of what made her dish so delicious was practice and patience, but also the love she put in that pot along with the ingredients.

I still make her version of cabbage rolls when I have the time. But a few years ago, a friend gave me a recipe for a soup based on all of the flavors found in stuffed cabbage rolls: a rich, tomato-y base sprinkled with slightly chewy meatballs and silky cabbage. I’ve adapted it over the years to create a recipe as rich as my mother’s. I hope you taste both the love that went into it and the heritage of a good stuffed cabbage roll.

Not Your Grandmother's Cabbage Roll Soup

Not Your Grandmother's Cabbage Roll Soup

lakelurelady lakelurelady
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
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Do you have a recipe that's been passed down in your family? Or one you want to make sure your future generations make? Let us know in the comments and it might be featured as one of our heirloom recipes!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Soup, Community, Heirloom Recipes