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Cozy up with a warm, nourishing bowl of Cabbage Roll Soup! Each pot includes all of the delicious flavors and ingredients that we love in my great grandmother’s traditional Stuffed Cabbage Rolls — without all of the work. The simple and easy cabbage soup is loaded with bacon, ground beef, rice and veggies in a sweet tomato broth. It’s perfect with biscuits or a loaf of crusty bread on a chilly day!

Close up shot of stuffed cabbage roll soup recipe served in two white ceramic bowls

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup

This soup is essentially a classic Polish stuffed cabbage roll recipe deconstructed…or un-stuffed! You can skip the step of steaming cabbage leaves, stuffing them individually, wrapping and cooking, and instead just stir together a quick pot of cabbage soup in about one hour. Each bowl is flavorful, satisfying, cozy — and I know that my great grandmother would totally approve!

Ingredients

Here’s a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for this soup. As always, the full recipe with exact measurements and specific instructions is included in the box at the bottom of this post.

  • Bacon: gives the soup a rich, smoky flavor and creates a nice garnish.
  • Ground beef: in her stuffed cabbage rolls, my grandmother used a combination of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal. Similarly, you can substitute a blend of ground meats for the ground beef here. Sausage is also delicious!
  • Onion and garlic: for flavor
  • Tomato paste: adds rich tomato flavor, a hint of sweetness, and helps to thicken the broth
  • Green cabbage: about ½ of a medium head coarsely chopped
  • Beef broth: use low-sodium or regular beef broth
  • Tomato sauce: adds more tomato flavor and thins the broth
  • Petite diced tomatoes: I like the smaller bite-size pieces from the petite-diced tomatoes, but you can substitute with a can of regular diced tomatoes.
  • Brown sugar: a hint of sweetness to balance the acidity from the tomatoes
  • Bay leaf, kosher salt and pepper: depth of flavor
  • White rice: use cooked rice in this recipe. You can substitute with any other variety of rice, such as brown rice, jasmine rice, or even wild rice.
  • Fresh parsley: fresh herbs at the end add a bright touch to the hearty soup.
Close up shot of a ladle in a pot of stuffed cabbage roll soup

Meat for Stuffed Cabbage Roll Soup

I used ground hamburger here, but my grandmother always stuffed her old-fashioned cabbage rolls with a mix of ground beef, ground veal and ground pork. You can use a similar blend of ground meat in this recipe as well, or use sausage in your cabbage soup for even more flavor.

Do you cook rice before adding to soup?

In general, you can use cooked or uncooked rice in soup recipes. Here we’re using cooked rice, which you add at the very end to ensure that the rice doesn’t become gummy or mushy in the broth. If you add uncooked rice to soup, it will soak up a lot of liquid, so you would need to start with extra broth.

I typically use leftover cooked white rice that I’ve stashed in the freezer from a previous meal, but you can also cook your own rice on the stovetop to use in this recipe, or purchase microwaveable packets of par-boiled rice for a quick shortcut. I like Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice, which includes about 2 cups per packet — exactly the amount that you need here.

How to Make Cabbage Roll Soup

This simple stovetop soup comes together in about one hour, and the leftovers make a delicious lunch or dinner later in the week. It’s truly the best ever cabbage roll soup!

Process shot showing how to make cabbage roll soup
  1. Cook bacon, reserving drippings in the pot.
  2. Brown ground beef, then add the onion, garlic and tomato paste.
  3. Add the cabbage, broth, tomato sauce, tomatoes, brown sugar and bay leaf.
  4. Boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the rice, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 5 more minutes.
  6. Discard bay leaf, stir in parsley, and ladle into bowls.
  7. Garnish each bowl with crispy bacon!
Side shot of a ladle serving the best cabbage roll soup recipe

What to Serve with Simple Cabbage Roll Soup

With vegetables, meat and rice, this soup is a one-pot meal! If you’d like to offer additional sides, here are a few options that go well with cabbage soup:

Overhead shot of two bowls of stuffed cabbage roll soup

Make Ahead

If you’re planning to make this soup in advance, prepare as instructed but do not add the rice. Let the soup cool, cover, and refrigerate for 3-4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to serve the soup, warm the broth over a low flame, stir in the rice, and simmer (covered) for 5-10 minutes.

Storage

Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat individual portions in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or warm larger servings in a covered saucepan on the stovetop over low heat.

Horizontal shot of a bowl of cabbage roll soup with a side of bread

Tips for the Best Cabbage Roll Soup Recipe

  • Save time and money by using leftovers in this soup. Leftover sausage or ground beef, any variety of leftover rice, or bits and pieces of leftover vegetables will all work here. It’s a great opportunity to clean out the fridge!
  • Shortcut: If you don’t want to boil a pot of rice for this soup, you can microwave a packet of Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice in about 90 seconds. Each packet is approximately 2 cups of rice, so there’s no waste.
  • Use bulk Italian sausage instead of ground beef in this recipe, or try a combination of half sausage and half beef. You can also make the soup using ground pork, ground veal, ground lamb, or ground turkey.
  • Any variety of cooked rice will work in the soup. I prefer long-grain white rice, but brown rice or basmati rice are both good options, too.
  • If adding uncooked rice to the soup, use ½ cup of uncooked long-grain white rice, increase the broth by about 1-2 cups, and simmer until the rice is tender.
Close up front shot of spoons in bowls of cabbage roll soup with fresh parsley garnish

More Cabbage Roll Recipes to Try

Close up shot of stuffed cabbage roll soup recipe served in two white ceramic bowls

Cabbage Roll Soup

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings 6 – 8 servings (about 12 cups total)
Calories 176 kcal
Cozy up with a warm, nourishing bowl of Cabbage Roll Soup! It's perfect with biscuits or a loaf of crusty bread on a chilly day!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage (about ½ of a medium head)
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon to a plate; reserve drippings in the pot.
  • Add ground beef to the pot and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute.
  • Stir in the cabbage, beef broth, tomato sauce, tomatoes, brown sugar and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, and simmer until the cabbage is tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Stir in the rice, season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf, and stir in parsley. Ladle into bowls and garnish each bowl with reserved bacon.

Notes

  • Save time and money by using leftovers in this soup. Leftover sausage or ground beef, any variety of leftover rice, or bits and pieces of leftover vegetables will all work here. It’s a great opportunity to clean out the fridge!
  • Shortcut: If you don’t want to boil a pot of rice for this soup, you can microwave a packet of Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice in about 90 seconds. Each packet is approximately 2 cups of rice, so there’s no waste.
  • Use bulk Italian sausage instead of ground beef in this recipe, or try a combination of half sausage and half beef. You can also make the soup using ground pork, ground veal, ground lamb, or ground turkey.
  • Any variety of cooked rice will work in the soup. I prefer long-grain white rice, but brown rice or basmati rice are both good options, too.
  • If adding uncooked rice to the soup, use ½ cup of uncooked long-grain white rice, increase the broth by about 1-2 cups, and simmer until the rice is tender.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 176kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 12gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 629mgPotassium: 490mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 347IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: cabbage roll soup, cabbage soup, stuffed cabbage roll soup, unstuffed cabbage roll soup
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: European
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe! My grandma used to make the best polish cabbage rolls. Unfortunately I never got her recipe, and cabbage rolls take a lot of work, so this is a great alternative.

    I did half pork sausage and half ground turkey, half a can of tomato paste, and I added red pepper flakes, oregano, and Italian seasoning. I also reduced the rice to 1.5 cups, as we normally eat soup with a side of rice already.

    Looking at polish cabbage roll recipes, I noticed they often call for marjoram. I didn’t have any on hand but I will try that next time.

    Thank you! Great recipe. So much easier than making cabbage rolls, but same great flavor. Will definitely make again.

    1. Thank you, Caroline! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it and that it reminded you of your grandmother. It’s the same reason that I love this recipe — fond memories, but way easier! 🙂