Appetizers

Cabbage Roll Soup {Healthy and Hearty} – WellPlated.com

This easy Cabbage Roll Soup has all the rich, comforting flavor and classic ingredients in traditional stuffed cabbage rolls and none of the hassle of making them.

Easy cabbage roll soup with carrots and beef

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“Same fab flavor, way less fuss!”

This gets-me-every-time mealtime tagline is the driving force behind the recipes I share with you here.

This easy cabbage roll soup recipe is no exception.

Lean ground beef, loads of fresh veggies, and hearty brown rice in a thick, deeply savory tomato broth, this cozy unstuffed cabbage roll soup is a protein, whole grain, and nutrient-packed recipe that also happens to be an easy, one-pot meal.

(For another “unstuffed” recipe, check out this top-rated Stuffed Pepper Casserole.

Cabbage roll soup recipe in a bowl with a spoon

Cabbage Rolls Around the World

The ingredients and flavor profile in this recipe are inspired by stuffed cabbage rolls, which are a common dish throughout most of Eastern Europe.

Hungarian cabbage rolls are quite popular, and you’ll find versions in Poland, Russia, and Ukraine, too.

That said, the comfort of cabbage rolls is global.

  • While this soup most closely resembles that of European cabbage rolls, Western Asia, Northern China, as well as parts of North Africa have their own versions of this recipe.
  • Geography aside, most stuffed cabbage rolls begin with some type of meat (usually beef, pork, or lamb) and rice wrapped inside cooked cabbage leaves. They’re then bathed in a richly spiced tomato sauce with spices that will vary depending on the region.

Feel free to experiment with the flavor profile in this recipe to adapt to your favorite regional recipe.

healthy cabbage roll soup in a bowl

5 Star Review

“This was so easy, delicious, and comforting. I especially love the addition of the parsnips. I’ll definitely be making this again, thank you!”

— Rachel —

How to Make Cabbage Roll Soup

While cabbage rolls are delicious, they’re a project.

This cabbage roll soup, simply made in one pot, is a faster option that will undoubtedly fill you up.

Thanks to its affordability, hamburger meat is an excellent ingredient for preparing budget-friendly and easy ground beef dinner recipes, like Ground Beef and Potatoes, Crock Pot Hamburger Soup, and Ground Beef Taco Skillet.

Combine it with another all-star budget ingredient, cabbage, and you have an economical meal that is super satisfying.


The Ingredients

  • Ground Beef. I love using lean ground beef here for both its health benefits (hello, protein and iron) and the deep flavor it adds to the soup. I opt for lean ground beef to keep this recipe hearty and healthy.

Substitution Tip!

Lean ground beef is certainly not the only option for the meat.

  • You could also make this into a cabbage roll soup with ground turkey, lamb, or chicken.
  • For another twist, try cabbage roll soup with sausage (or ground pork). You could also use a 50/50 blend of beef and pork.
  • Carrots + Parsnips. Two delicious root vegetables that help build flavor and add nutritional value to the soup. (I also love this combo in Crockpot Beef Stew and Beef Barley Soup.)
  • Green Cabbage. While cabbage tends to be a humble ingredient, it has a chance to shine here. It becomes delightfully tender and flavorful in the broth.

Reasons to Love Cabbage

When it comes to a minimalist ingredient with max potential, cabbage is a poster child. Here are some great reasons to jump into a recipe with cabbage. Cabbage:

  • Lasts a While. Cabbage can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. Yes, you read that right. This makes it a popular ingredient to keep available for home cooking.
  • Is Really Healthy. Cabbage is loaded with vitamins (like vitamins K, C, and B6), nutrients (like iron), and antioxidants, all of which have many health benefits you can learn about here.
  • Is Surprisingly Versatile. I usually serve my favorite Sauteed Cabbage or Winter Slaw as a side dish. In Cabbage Stir Fry, it’s a main event.
  • It’s Budget Friendly. Cabbage itself is inexpensive, and as a whole, cabbage roll soup is also one of the most budget-friendly recipes you can make.
  • Beef Broth + Tomato Sauce. The two main liquids for our soup. Both help build the soup’s rich flavor.
  • Brown Rice. Following classic cabbage roll ingredients, I made this a cabbage roll soup with rice. Brown rice helps make it more hearty, filling, and adds extra fiber.

Substitution Tip

For directions on how to make this recipe with white rice or cauliflower rice, scroll down to the “FAQ” section below.

  • Herbs. Bay leaves, thyme, and oregano bring scrumptious flavor to the soup as it simmers. Fresh parsley would be another nice addition.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. Hello, deeply-flavored umami goodness!

Dietary Note

While Worcestershire sauce is typically gluten free, some brands may contain gluten-containing ingredients or may be manufactured in facilities that are not certified gluten free. If you are particularly sensitive to gluten, I recommend checking the ingredient label.

  • Sherry Vinegar. For a touch of brightness and acidity. It rounds the soup and makes it taste complete.
  • Maple Syrup. A touch of sweetness to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and sherry vinegar.

The Directions

Ground meat in a Dutch oven
  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper and cook until browned.
Meat and vegetables in a Dutch oven for the BEST cabbage roll soup
  1. Add the carrots, parsnips, and onions, then stir in the garlic.
Herbs and spices in a rich broth
  1. Add the broth, tomato sauce, rice, herbs, maple syrup, Worcestershire, and red pepper flakes.
Cabbage being added to a Dutch oven
  1. Let the mixture boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage.
Cabbage roll soup recipe easy
  1. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove the soup from the heat, and stir in the vinegar. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate soup in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days. 
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You may also microwave if desired.
  • To Freeze. You can freeze stuffed cabbage soup. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Meal Plan Tip

Chop all the vegetables up to 1 day in advance, and store them in the refrigerator.

Cabbage roll soup with beef in a Dutch oven

What to Serve with Cabbage Roll Soup

While this soup can stand on its own as an all-in-one meal, I like to serve mine with a hunk of crusty bread to soak up all the yummy broth.

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Dutch Oven. A kitchen tool that will last you a lifetime.
  • Extra Large Cutting Board. You’ll love having the extra space when chopping all the ingredients for this soup.
  • Ladle. The ultimate soup serving tool.

The Best Dutch Oven

Ideal for making soups and stews, casseroles, and so much more. It’s high-quality, beautiful, and heavy-duty.

Easy cabbage roll soup with carrots and beef

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

With a recipe this fuss-free, the most difficult part will be not slurping too aggressively over your bowl of pure comfort food.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use White Rice Instead of Brown Rice?

Yes, you can swap white rice for brown rice in this recipe. Add the cabbage at the same time as the beef broth in Step 3. Let the entire pot simmer for 25 to 30 minutes only (vs. the 45 minutes total needed for brown rice; white rice cooks more quickly).

What Can I Swap for Parsnips?

If you can’t find parsnips, you could try swapping in additional carrots or even a different root veggie, like sweet potato or white potato.

How Can I Make Cabbage Roll Soup a Low Carb Meal?

For a low-carb unstuffed cabbage roll soup, you can experiment with replacing brown rice with cauliflower rice: omit the rice from the recipe, reduce the amount of beef broth to 3 cups, and stir in 1 1/2 to 2 cups cauliflower rice towards the end of the soup’s cooking time to warm the cauliflower rice through.

Can I Cook Cabbage Roll Soup in a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?

I have not played around with preparing this recipe as a crockpot cabbage roll soup or instant pot recipe. I’m sure tweaks could be made to adapt the recipe, however. If you choose to experiment, I would love to hear the results. Check out this Instant Pot Chicken and Rice and this Crockpot Chicken and Rice Soup for ideas on cooktimes.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (or try with ground turkey or ground pork sausage)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper plus additional to taste
  • 4 medium carrots peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 medium parsnips peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 24 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice* (see recipe notes below)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (check your label to ensure it’s a gluten-free brand)
  • 4 springs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 5 cups green cabbage chopped (about half of a small head)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • Heat a Dutch oven or similar large soup pot over medium-high. Add the beef, salt, and pepper. With a wooden spoon or sturdy plastic spoon or spatula, break apart the meat into pieces.

  • Once the meat is broken up, add the carrots, parsnips, and onions. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned and the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute, until very fragrant.

  • Add the beef broth, tomato sauce, rice, bay leaves, maple syrup, Worcestershire, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes.

  • Bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cabbage.

  • Continue simmering until the cabbage and rice are tender, about 25 to 35 minutes more. Check and stir periodically.

  • Remove the pot from the heat. Fish out and discard the bay leaves and thyme stems. Stir in the vinegar. Cover and let the soup rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry and the soup to thicken a bit further, then taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Enjoy hot.

  • *SUBSTITUTION TIP: To use white rice instead of brown: add the cabbage at the same time as the beef broth in Step 3. Let the entire pot simmer for 25 to 30 minutes only (vs. the 45 minutes total needed for brown rice; white rice cooks more quickly).
  • TO STORE: Refrigerate soup in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. 
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze leftover soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Serving: 1(of 10)Calories: 175kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 14gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 28mgPotassium: 870mgFiber: 5gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 4431IUVitamin C: 26mgCalcium: 62mgIron: 3mg

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