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
Test Kitchen Notes
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
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.
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.
I have been a serious cook from the time I first took an introductory course in French Cooking from Irena Chalmers, a cookbook author and instructor at the CIA. My first love is French cooking but I also value the importance of fresh local ingredients. The freshest ingredients seasoned right and prepared with love will result in the perfect meal.