Cabbage roll soup is a great way to enjoy the classic flavors of cabbage rolls with way less effort. It is the ideal comfort food for a chilly day.
I love traditional cabbage rolls but they take time and effort to make. This deconstructed soup version is just as delicious but without all the work. You can use some of your leftover cabbage to prepare this Cabbage Carrot Salad or this Easy and Healthy Coleslaw.
If you want more ideas for comforting recipes, you can also check out this Mexican Picadillo and this amazing Crockpot Lentil Soup.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Ground Beef – I highly recommend using lean ground beef because you are already using avocado oil to cook the beef and vegetables, and you don’t need the extra fat. Another alternative is to use ground pork, chicken or turkey.
- Onion – I used white onion for this recipe, but red onion or shallots work well too.
- Garlic – sautéed garlic enhances the flavors and it just tastes delicious.
- Celery – the more veggies in a soup the better, and celery is a star when it comes to soups. However, you could skip it if you don’t have any.
- Carrot – similar to celery, carrots go really well in soups and of course they are super healthy. They also help make this cabbage roll soup hearty and filling.
- Green Cabbage – use one half of a small head of green cabbage, it should yield about 3-4 cups when thinly sliced.
- Roasted Bell Peppers – the easiest way is to use jarred roasted red bell peppers, but if you prefer you could roast your own peppers, but it will add extra cooking time.
- Tomato Sauce – you will need 1 can of tomato sauce for the soup broth, or alternatively you could double the amount of roasted red bell peppers and omit the tomato sauce altogether.
- Beef Broth – I used beef broth because the recipe has ground beef in it, but vegetable broth or even chicken broth work too.
- Soy Sauce – replace with tamari sauce to make the soup gluten-free or use coconut aminos if you want it soy-free.
- Red Wine Vinegar – it can be replaced with any other vinegar if needed.
- Honey – tomato sauce can be very acidic and adding a little honey to it helps to reduce the acidity. You only need a small drizzle.
- Wild Rice – you have lots of choices when it comes to adding rice to the soup. Wild rice is fantastic with this cabbage roll soup. Brown rice will also go well. Try making both in your Instant Pot by following these instant pot rice instructions.
- Parsley – fresh chopped parsley gives a nice final touch your soup, but you can skip it if you don’t have any.
How to make Cabbage Roll Soup
This recipe has the same delicious flavors as cabbage rolls, but none of the work.
- Prepare the rice in the Instant Pot.
- Stir fry the veggies.
- Blend your broth. This starts with a beef broth base, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, and honey to it, we end up with a deep amazing flavor. Just toss all those ingredients in the blender and add it to the veggies in the pot.
- Add the ground beef and cabbage.
- Let it simmer for 30-40 minutes. Don’t overcook it. You don’t want soggy cabbage.
- Serve over rice.
How to add Rice to Soup
For this cabbage roll soup recipe, I recommend using your Instant Pot to make the rice separately. If you don’t have an Instant Pot you can make it on the stovetop or in a rice cooker.
Cooking rice in the soup will leave your soup pasty and the rice soggy and mushy.
Plus, rice and soup cannot be frozen together. If you want to freeze this recipe, you will have to freeze the rice and soup separately and then serve them together.
Can you make Cabbage Roll Soup in the slow cooker or Instant Pot?
While I tried this recipe on the stovetop, you can speed it up using an Instant Pot or let it simmer all day in a slow cooker.
Your Instant Pot has so many functions, it’s easy to make this soup that way. Use the saute function first to stir fry the veggies and brown the meat. Then add your broth and cabbage and set to high pressure for 15 minutes + full natural pressure release, that’s all.
In the slow cooker, I do recommend you brown the meat first. Otherwise, just put all the ingredients in the pot. Cook on low for eight hours or high for four to five hours.
What ground meat is best for soup?
In this cabbage roll soup, I used lean ground beef. You are cooking the beef and vegetables in avocado oil, so you don’t need the extra fat. If you used fattier meat, you would want to drain the fat out of the pan before making the rest of the soup.
Not so much for fear of calories but rather, excess fat dilutes the flavor of the soup. Soups and sauces should always be rather on the lower side of fat so the actual flavors come through.
For a change, you could also use ground pork, chicken or turkey.
Cabbage Roll Soup
- 1 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup diced carrots
- 3-4 cups sliced or chopped green cabbage
- 3-4 jarred roasted red bell peppers
- 1 can tomato sauce - (13.5oz/400ml) or double the amount of roasted red bell peppers
- 4 cup beef broth
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 Tbsp honey
- 1/2-1 cup wild rice
- sea salt
- parsley - for garnish
- Prepare Instant Pot Rice. Leave at "keep warm" function until the soup is finished. My favorite is wild rice, but brown rice is great, too.
- Peel and finely chop onion and garlic.
- Peel and dice carrots, wash and dice celery.
- Preheat a large pot over medium heat and once hot add a little avocado oil.
- Brown the onion and garlic, then add diced vegetables and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
- To a blender, add roasted bell peppers, broth, tomato sauce, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, and honey and blend on high until smooth, then add to the vegetables in the pot.
- Bring soup to a boil, then add ground beef and cabbage, break the beef apart with a spatula, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 30-45 minutes.
- Before serving try the soup to see if it needs more seasoning with sea salt and pepper.
- To serve, add 1/4 cup rice to a bowl, pour soup over it, and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley.
Kathy G says
I live by myself so I love to make a bunch of meals and freeze them, but I was wondering how well does this recipe freeze? Does the cabbage hold up well? I also thought I read a comment that you shouldn’t put the soup and the rice together, but now I can’t find that comment. I’m planning on making this tomorrow with some home made bread despite it still being 106º outside.
Lorena Grater says
Yes, the recipe freezes very well as long as you keep the rice and rest of soup separate (I say it in the video). The reason being that the rice slowly absorbs all the liquid and transforms the dish into a pasty mush. If you freeze it with the rice, the rice will absorb all liquid during the defrosting process. That’s why it’s better to keep them separate and then mix in the serving bowl.
My whole family devoured this soup.. adults and toddlers. It was absolutely delicious! I forgot to make rice, so inended up making jasmine rice Bec it’s faster 😅. Can’t wait to have the leftovers!
This dish is amazingly good. I have 2 quick comments.
1. In Step 6 of the recipe, it would be helpful for first-timers in a hurry if it began with “In a blender, add…”. I read most of the step and added the roasted bell peppers, broth, tomato sauce, soy sauce, and red wine vinegar to the soup pot and only when I was about to add the honey did I realize that all of these ingredients were to be blended first. Oops! I know we are supposed to read the whole recipe first, but I thought it was worth mentioning here.
2. The recipe doesn’t mention how fine to chop the cabbage but we preferred coarsely chopped cabbage and not sliced cabbage since the long strands are harder to eat with a soup spoon.
I’m looking forward to making this again and again!
Lorena Grater says
Excellent points, I just made the adjustments. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe :)
I am giving this recipe 5 stars in advance because it sounds really wonderful but I have one question before I make it….
It seems odd to add the raw ground beef to the broth…
I am wondering if one could add the ground beef and brown it with the sautéed vegetable and then add
the broth etc and the cabbage….
What do you think?
That’s what I did, for the very reason you state, and it came out great! TBH, I think it’ll turn out the same either way, but I just couldn’t get past the idea of putting raw meat directly into the soup. Pre-browning it along with the sautéing vegetables worked out well. The final result was absolutely delicious. I will definitely be making this again. It’s a perfect meal for a cold winter night.
Lorena Grater says
You can absolutely brown if first if you want. I’ve tested it both ways and while for saucy stews I prefer the texture of browned meat, in soups I’ve found I prefer it non-browned as it turns out softer.
Thanks for this info. I’m making the recipe again tonight, so I’m going to try adding the ground beef directly to the soup as instructed. I’m sure it will be delicious. This is a fabulous recipe that I know will become a staple in my home.
We really loved this soup especially with the wild rice that as you recommended we cooked separately and then pour the soup over. I think the two of us got 3 meals out of this recipe and the third time tasted better than the first. Will for sure make this again.
Sim @ Sim's Life says
This looks like a perfect winter warmer! I have been eating a lot of soup recently but tend to buy ready made when really I should be making my own. This is the perfect recipe to get started with! Sim x
Władysław Łoś says
This soup is most probably very good, but what kind of cabbage rolls it is supposed to resemble???
Hello Lorena, this will be my first time trying your recipes but they look so and healthy and delicious , I cannot wait. Could you please tell me how I would cook the cabbage roll soup in a regular pot. Thank you so much for sharing your gift🤗
Lorena Grater says
Hi Nancy, thank you so much for your kind comment. I’m a little confused. This recipe is made in a regular pot on the stove. I’m not sure what you mean with “regular pot” I’m afraid.
Hey, Lorena! How long do you cook your soup when you’re making it in the Instant Pot? I’ve loved your recipes for a while but just got my hands on an Instant Pot for Christmas and am looking for recipes to use!
Hi Sasha, there are pleeenty of recipes on the blog specifically tested in the Instant Pot. In the menu is a search bar, enter “instant pot” and all of my Instant Pot recipes are listed then. If you want to make this one though (I haven’t tested it but I’m pretty confident this will work) : Press the sauté button to heat your pot (without lid), once the display says hot, add a splash of oil and then brown you onions and ground beef in batches. Once all is browned, add all ingredients to the pot, put on the lid and seal it and set it to 5 to 15 minutes on high pressure, depending on how soft you like your veggies. Let pressure release naturally. Tomato sauce based sauces are notorious for shooting out the vent to don’t flip the valve.
Prudence Wilson says
This looks delicious and will try soon! Curious and I don’t know if you can say… can you recommend a tomato sauce? The one I like is on the sweeter side. My husband does not like that. Just thought I’d see what you used. Thank you for your time – enjoy your recipes!
I live in Canada so I’m not sure if our Costco has the same products as the US but I use their Kirkland brand Organic Canned Tomato Sauce and love it!
Manuela Davis says
I am cooking your recipe right now! 😃
I’m in the last stage of it. It tastes so yummy already! Can’t wait for it to be done.
I changed a couple of things. I used baby portabella mushrooms instead of carrots, used ground turkey and hot Italian ground chicken sausage instead of beef.
The reason I changed it was only because we just had beef and I just love mushrooms way more than carrots! 😊
What do you think?
I also wanted to let you know that I made a few of your recipes and they are all so very yummy!
Thank you for all that you do! You are appreciated!
Greeting and much love from Dallas, TX
Manuela, your changes sound scrumptious! I love mushrooms, too :) Will have to try your version soon. I’m so happy to read my recipes inspire you. That’s exactly my goal in life. To inspire people to cook more and experiment in the kitchen. Thank you for coming back and commenting and rating the recipe.
Tara K Lochen says
I’m very excited to make this…I love your rice experiment and now make the most perfect rice. I came upon this recipe and some negativity in the comments, which makes me so sad. I know you work hard…please don’t feel discouraged. There are still good souls out here whom appreciate you very much.
Thank you so much for your kind words Tara. They mean so so much to me! ❤️
why is your sodium level so high? my blood pressure went up just reading the recipe.
All food blogs are required by google to provide nutritional information. I find this so silly because hardly any of us are certified dietitians or nutritionists and we rely on automatic calculators. I have no idea what products are in their database, and I sure know hardly anybody making my recipes has access to the exact same products I have access to here in Montreal. Please, always take the nutritional information on absolutely every food blog with a grain of “salt”. Maybe the database has super salty beef broth? Only YOU can control how much sodium ends up in your soup. Use low-sodium broth, buy unsalted tomato sauce, don’t add any salt, don’t add any soy sauce etc etc etc.
I’m wondering about the sugar content. How does the soup have 14 grams off sugar per serving when there’s only 1/2 tbsp of honey in it?
Green Healthy Cooking says
Hi Evelyn, tomatoes have sugar and bell pepper and carrots and celery have sugar, too. It’s not “added sugar” (except the honey of course) it’s just the vegetable’s carbohydrates.
Sally G says
I appreciate your recipe, and I’m sure it would be pretty tasty. And I realize people don’t cook like they used to, but best part of making a huge batch of stuffed cabbage is, like chili and beef stew, it is so much better the next day. So when I make it, I make extra, just to make soup. The cabbage is so tender and sweet and the meat/rice filling has absorbed more of the tomato sweet and sour sauce flavor. I soften some onion, carrots and celery in olive oil, add beef broth and chopped Yukon gold potatoes. When the potatoes are almouse st done add chopped leftover cabbage rolls and extra cabbage baked with the cabbage rolls in anticipation of making the soup. Add a can of crushed tomatoes, some marjoram, a wee bit of garlic, salt and pepper and simmer for about 20 minutes. I usually make 30 to 40 cabbage rolls at a time. With extra cabbage in the pans. I freeze the leftovers for future meals or soup. It is worth the time and effort on one day for meals that will take care of 6 to 8 meals in the future. And they get to the table in 40 minutes or less.
Hi Sally, I am very confused. You have NOT tried my recipe, clearly because you make one that you like better (fair enough), but you rated my recipe 3 stars WITHOUT having even tried it? How would you feel if I gave you 3 stars for the recipe you just posted here, just…because…? I am very sad about this.
Sally G is clearly a sex starved control freak…. nobody asked for your recipe so shove it up your not so wee arse😁