This is a wonderful soup dish that can be served as a small first course, side if you lessen the liquid, or as a complete dinner.
I have never made stuffed cabbage rolls in my life. For years and years I have drooled over pictures of them, but the long process to stuff the cabbage leaves and braise for several hours always intimidated me. So I did the next best thing. I turned them inside out and made soup instead! While researching what ingredients go into a stuffed cabbage roll dish, I discovered that every Eastern European country has their own version of this dish. Ukranians typically make theirs with pork, sauerkraut and onions, while the Romanians add a generous amount of fresh dill to their sauce. Polish cuisine mixes ground beef or pork with rice, which is the common Americanized version. Hungarians add paprika to theirs, which I did too. Most of the sauces are tomato-based, except for in Sweden where they typically serve it with Lingonberry jam.
Trying to decide what to put in the soup took me several hours of scouring recipes (in which I could have been actually making the traditional dish!), and finally just had to start making it by the seat of my pants otherwise we’d never eat. I wrote a list of most common ingredients, then started adding them one by one, tossing in a bit of this and a pinch of that. I kept a notepad nearby so I could document what actually ended up in the soup, and how much. Another thing I did was try to healthy it up a bit by using ground turkey and brown rice, and used some homemade no-sodium turkey broth.
And please don’t get intimidated by the long ingredient list, it comes together fairly quick and easy. You can also make the cooking time much shorter if you use white rice instead of brown. Brown rice takes a long time to cook at high altitude. —anotherfoodieblogger
1 1/4 pounds
Ground black pepper, to taste
Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb, or salt, to taste
5 to 6 cups
chicken, turkey, or beef broth, homemade or low sodium
Hungarian sweet paprika
crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like spicy!)
rice wine vinegar
brown or white rice, uncooked
cans low-sodium diced tomatoes
8-ounce can no-salt tomato sauce
Handful of chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
bag of shredded cabbage (or 3 cups shredded from a head of cabbage)
In a large soup pot, brown the ground turkey and chopped onions in the olive oil over medium heat until turkey is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Add the chopped garlic and cook a minute or two more. Drain the grease, if any.
Grind a bunch of black pepper over it, and add the Mrs. Dash or salt, to taste.
Add the broth and stir in all the rest of the ingredients except the cabbage or cole slaw and garnishes. Bring up to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer until the rice is cooked through. For brown rice, that took about an hour. White rice would probably only take 20 minutes.
Once rice is tender, add the bag or fresh shredded cabbage, bring back up to a simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes more.
Remove the bay leaves, and ladle into bowls, and garnish with parsley or sour cream.