Touchstone Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup

September 23, 2013
1 Rating
Author Notes

This recipe has long been a touchstone for me in the soup-as-meal category, especially in cold weather. As much as I enjoy experimenting, I often circle back to this updated version of the Ashkenazi Jewish classic. I add a good hit of paprika like my Hungarian grandmother, but use fresh lemon juice instead of vinegar. I also replace the usual raisins with dried currants, for a less pushy sweet note. A dollop of cool sour cream melting into the hot soup is optional, but raises the delicious level significantly. —amysarah

  • Serves 8?
  • 2 1/2 pounds Beef short ribs or shanks (or any flavorful bone-in cut)
  • 4 cups Low sodium beef broth (or homemade beef stock)
  • 5 cups Water
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (or canned whole tomatoes, broken up into small pieces, with their juices)
  • 1 Head (2 – 2 ½ pounds) cabbage, roughly chopped in bite size pieces/strips
  • 3 Medium onions, quartered and sliced
  • 4 Good sized carrots, sliced
  • 1-2 teaspoons Kosher salt, or to taste, depending on saltiness of broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
  • 5 tablespoons Light brown sugar
  • 1 Lemon, juiced
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons good Hungarian sweet paprika (not Spanish smoked)
  • 5 tablespoons Dried currants
  • Sour cream (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. In a large soup pot, bring broth, water and beef to a boil. Lower heat and simmer about 10 minutes, skimming any residue that rises to the surface.
  2. Add all the remaining soup ingredients, except the currants. (It will seem like a lot of cabbage at first, but will cook down substantially.)
  3. Bring back to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for around 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Then add the currants and cook another 30 minutes, or until the meat is falling off the bone tender.
  4. Taste and adjust flavor, if needed, by adding more salt, or pepper, lemon juice and/or brown sugar. It should be sweet and sour, but not cloyingly sweet or mouth-puckeringly sour.
  5. Discard the bay leaf and fish out the bones and any large chunks of meat that have fallen away. When cool enough to handle, discard the bones, shred the meat into bite-size pieces and put it back into the soup.
  6. You can eat the soup right away, but the flavor improves after a night or two in the refrigerator, which also allows you to easily discard the solidified fat from the surface. Reheat gently, stirring occasionally.
  7. Serve hot, topping each bowl with a dollop of sour cream.

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