Stuffed Cabbage Soup with meatballs – Zupa Golabkowa

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Calling all the cabbage lovers out there. Are you one of them? This Stuffed Cabbage Soup – Zupa Golabkowa is something you must try, immediately 🙂

Cabbage soup served in bowls, meatballs on the side, bread knife, bread basket, utensils

For those seeking the comforting taste of stuffed cabbage rolls in a convenient soup form, you may stop looking. This stuffed cabbage soup recipe offers all the flavors you love without the hassle of using unstuffed cabbage and rolling individual cabbage leaves.

This hearty and flavorful soup combines the classic flavors of stuffed cabbage rolls with the convenience of a one-pot meal. Tender meatballs (made from meat of your choice – ground beef, ground pork, ground turkey – whichever you like!), vibrant cabbage, and a rich, flavorful broth come together to create a dish that’s sure to become a family favorite. 

Cabbage soup served in bowls, meatballs on the side, bread knife, bread basket, dish with fresh dill

Why you will love this Stuffed Cabbage Soup recipe

Comforting and hearty – Stuffed Cabbage Soup is at the top of comfort food list. It’s filling and satisfying, making it perfect for chilly days in May or December or whenever you need a cozy pick-me-up.

Versatile – Stuffed Cabbage Soup can be customized with various ingredients and flavors, drawing inspiration from the classic stuffed cabbage rolls. From different types of meat (from ground beef to turkey) to a wide array of vegetables and seasonings. Making it vegan or vegetarian is easy.

Nutritious – Cabbage is a packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It adds a healthy dose of nutrients to the Stuffed Cabbage Soup, making it a wholesome and nourishing meal option.

Budget-friendly – Cabbage is affordable and readily available year-round, making cabbage soup a budget-friendly meal option. It’s a great way to feed a crowd without breaking the bank.

Flavorful – the combination of cabbage, tomatoes, aromatics, and seasonings creates a rich and satisfying broth that’s both comforting and delicious.

Easy to make – Stuffed Cabbage Soup is easy to prepare and can be made in one pot, making cleanup a breeze. It’s a fuss-free meal option that’s perfect for busy weeknights or lazy weekends.

Ingredients, Variations and Substitutions

Cabbage – hearty and nutritious base to the soup, along with a sweet and earthy flavor, reminiscent of traditional cabbage rolls. To save time, you can purchase pre-packaged coleslaw mix, which usually contains shredded green cabbage and carrots. If you prefer a different texture, you can use thinly sliced green cabbage or substitute with kale, spinach, or Swiss chard.

Crushed tomatoes – star of the show, creates rich and robust tomato flavor, along with a chunky texture. If you prefer a smoother consistency, you can use an immersion blender to puree the soup once the tomatoes are added. If you don’t have crushed tomatoes, you can use diced tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes and crush them with your hands or a potato masher.

Tomato puree – adds smooth and velvety texture to the soup, intensifying the tomato flavor. If you prefer a thicker consistency, you can reduce the amount of beef broth or increase the amount of tomato puree. If you don’t have tomato puree, you can use tomato sauce or additional crushed tomatoes.

Tomato paste – richness, depth, and a concentrated tomato flavor to the soup. To enhance the flavor of the tomato paste, you can sauté it in oil for a minute or two before adding the other ingredients. If you don’t have tomato paste, you can use ketchup or tomato sauce, but reduce the amount to adjust for the extra liquid.

Carrots – add sweetness, color, and texture to the soup, along with a subtle earthy flavor. To enhance the sweetness of the carrots, you can sauté them in oil before adding to the soup. If you don’t have carrots, you can use other sweet root vegetables such as parsnips or sweet potatoes.

Chipotle pepper – add smoky and spicy flavor to the soup, along with a deep, earthy aroma. Chipotle can be quite spicy, so adjust the amount according to your taste preferences. If you don’t have chipotle, you can use smoked paprika or a dash of hot sauce for heat and smokiness.

Marjoram – adds a warm and citrusy flavor to the soup, along with a hint of sweetness and pine. To enhance the flavor of the marjoram, you can crush the dried leaves between your fingers before adding them to the soup. If you don’t have marjoram, you can use oregano or thyme as a substitute, but adjust the amount based on your taste preferences.

Lovage (optional) – adds a celery-like flavor and aroma to the soup, along with a hint of citrus and parsley. Lovage can be difficult to find, so feel free to omit it if you can’t locate it. If you don’t have lovage, you can use celery leaves or celery seed as a substitute.

Bay leaves – add a subtle herbal flavor to the soup, enhancing the overall taste and aroma. Make sure to remove the bay leaves before serving the soup, as they’re not meant to be eaten. If you don’t have bay leaves, you can use dried thyme or oregano as a substitute, but use them sparingly as they have a stronger flavor.

Beef broth – provides a rich and savory base for the soup, enhancing the flavors of the other ingredients. If you prefer a lighter soup, you can use chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of beef broth. If you don’t have beef broth, you can use chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water with beef bouillon cubes or beef base for a similar flavor profile.

Salt – enhances the flavors of the soup, balancing the sweetness of the tomatoes and vegetables. Be cautious with the amount of salt, especially if you’re using store-bought beef broth, which may already contain salt. You can use sea salt, kosher salt, or Himalayan pink salt, but adjust the amount based on the saltiness of the other ingredients.

Black pepper – subtle heat and depth of flavor to the soup, enhancing the overall taste. For a stronger pepper flavor, use freshly ground black pepper instead of pre-ground pepper. You can use white pepper or red pepper flakes for a different flavor profile, but adjust the amount accordingly.

Smoked paprika – adds a smoky and earthy flavor to the soup, along with a rich and vibrant red color. Smoked paprika can vary in intensity, so adjust the amount according to your taste preferences. If you don’t have smoked paprika, you can use regular paprika or a combination of paprika and a dash of liquid smoke for a similar flavor profile.

Worcestershire sauce – adds a savory and umami flavor to the soup, enhancing the richness and depth of the other ingredients. Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, so it’s not suitable for vegetarians. If you need a vegetarian alternative, you can use soy sauce or tamari. If you don’t have Worcestershire sauce, you can use soy sauce or tamari for a similar umami flavor.

Ground meat – For the meatballs, you can use ground beef, pork, chicken, or a mix. Ground beef is traditionally used in this recipe, but feel free to use your preferred ground meat for the meatballs.

green background, bowl with cabbage soup, meatballs on the plate, dish with fresh dill, napkin, slices of bread

Equipment you will need:

  • Large soup pot or Dutch oven
  • Stirring utensil, spoon
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Skillet if you want to brown the meatballs
  • Ladle

Top tips: 

Use homemade broth if possible. While store-bought broth works fine, using homemade beef broth will add an extra depth of flavor to your soup.

Adjust seasoning gradually. Start with less salt and pepper than the recipe calls for, then taste and adjust as needed. You can always add more seasoning later, but it’s impossible to take it out if you’ve added too much.

Brown the meatballs – for extra flavor and to ensure that the meatballs hold their shape, consider browning them in a skillet before adding them to the soup.

Enhance the nutritional value and texture of your soup by adding cooked brown rice directly into the meatball mixture. This not only adds a hearty element to the dish but also boosts its fiber content.

Allow the soup to simmer gently for at least 30-40 minutes to allow all the flavors to meld together. This will result in a richer and more flavorful soup.

Consider topping your soup with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley or dill, or a drizzle of olive oil for extra flavor and richness.

Balance flavors with brown sugar: If you want to reduce the sourness in your soup, a tablespoon of brown sugar can help mellow it out. Add the brown sugar, tasting as you go, until you achieve the desired balance of sweetness and acidity.

green background, bowl with cabbage soup, meatballs on the plate, dish with fresh dill, napkin, slices of bread, spoon in the soup

Step by step:

  • Prepare the Meatballs according to this recipe or any recipe of your choice.
  • To a large pot or Dutch oven add carrots, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato paste, chipotle, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, lovage (if using), marjoram and chopped cabbage.

  • Pour in beef broth and stir well to combine.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked, but tender.
  • At this point you can add the cooked meatballs, or you can serve them on the side.
  • Stir well to combine (if added the meatballs), then cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Taste the soup and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • Remove the bay leaves before serving.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley or dill if desired.
  • Enjoy your delicious cabbage soup with meatballs!
green background, bowl with cabbage soup, meatballs on the plate, dish with fresh dill, napkin, slices of bread

How to use this dish, best way to enjoy

Serve with crusty bread. Enjoy a bowl of cabbage soup with meatballs made from ground meat (ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey) alongside some warm, crusty bread for dipping.

Top your cabbage soup with a dollop of sour cream for a creamy and tangy finish. The coolness of the sour cream complements the warmth of the soup beautifully.

Garnish with fresh herbs – sprinkle your cabbage soup with chopped fresh dill, parsley or green onions for a burst of fresh flavor and color.

Pair with a side salad – serve your cabbage soup with a simple side salad for a complete and balanced meal. A light and refreshing salad with vinaigrette dressing pairs very well with the hearty soup. For a heartier option, consider adding cooked ground beef to your salad to mirror the flavors of the meatballs in the soup.

Make it a complete meal – add cooked white/brown rice or even cauliflower rice, quinoa, or barley to the soup for extra heartiness and texture. You can also add extra vegetables like potatoes, bell peppers, or celery for more flavor and nutrition, similar to how rice or grains are often present in stuffed cabbage rolls.

Drizzle with olive oil – finish off your cabbage soup with a drizzle of high-quality olive oil for added richness and flavor. The olive oil adds a luxurious touch to the soup and enhances the overall taste.

Add juicy flavor – sprinkle a handful of diced tomatoes on top of the dish just before serving. The fresh diced tomatoes will not only provide extra richness and juiciness, but also a delightful pop of color, enhancing the presentation of the dish and providing a refreshing contrast to the warm, savory flavors of the soup. If you don’t have enough tomatoes on hand, feel free to add tomato sauce instead.

Pair with a glass of wine – Enjoy your cabbage soup with a glass of your favorite wine for a cozy and comforting meal. A light-bodied red wine like Pinot Noir or a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc pairs beautifully with the flavors of the soup.

Cabbage soup served in bowls, meatballs on the side, bread knife, bread basket, dish with fresh dill, utensils, glass of water and napkin

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Storage instructions, reheating

  • Refrigeration:
    • allow the soup to cool completely at room temperature
    • transfer to an airtight container or divide it into individual portions. Refrigerate promptly to prevent bacterial growth.
    • Use within 3-4 days for optimal freshness.
  • Freezing:
    • Cool the soup completely. Portion it or transfer into freezer-safe container. Leave some space at the top of the container for expansion as the soup freezes.
    • use within 2-3 months for the best quality and taste.  
    • Note: if you are planning to freeze the soup, it is best to leave out the cabbage as it can become mushy when thawed and reheated. You can add fresh cabbage to the soup when you reheat it. Additionally, if you’ve added brown rice to the soup, it’s advisable to reheat it gently to avoid overcooking the rice.
  • Reheating:
    • Stovetop: transfer the soup into a saucepan and reheat over low to medium heat. Stir occasionally to ensure even warming. 
    • Microwave: always use microwave – safe container; reheat in short intervals, stirring the soup in between to distribute the heat
    • Tip: if the soup has thicken upon reheating, you can add splash of broth or water to think it out
  • Thawing Frozen Soup: If you are planning on using previously frozen sauce, first thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
Cabbage soup served in bowls, meatballs on the side, bread knife, bread basket, utensils
Cabbage soup served in bowls, meatballs on the side, bread knife, bread basket, dish with fresh dill

Stuffed Cabbage Soup with Meatballs

Sylwia Vaclavek
Calling all the cabbage lovers out there. Are you one of them? This Stuffed Cabbage Soup – Zupa Golabkowa is something you must try, immediately
No ratings yet
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Polish
Servings 6
Calories 87 kcal

Equipment

  • large soup pot or Dutch over
  • stirring utensil, spoon
  • chef's knife
  • cutting board
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • skillet to brown the meatballs
  • ladle

Ingredients
 
 

For the Soup

  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 5-6 cups chopped cabbage
  • 2-3 carrots diced
  • 1 tbsp chipotle
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp lovage optional
  • 1 tbsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • meatballs

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the Meatballs according to this recipe or any recipe of your choice.
  • To a large pot or Dutch oven add carrots, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato paste, chipotle, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, lovage (if using), marjoram and chopped cabbage.
  • Pour in beef broth and stir well to combine.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked, but tender.
  • At this point you can add the cooked meatballs, or you can serve them on the side.
  • Stir well to combine (if added the meatballs), then cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Taste the soup and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • Remove the bay leaves before serving.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley or dill if desired.
  • Enjoy your delicious cabbage soup with meatballs!

Notes

For extra flavor and to ensure that the meatballs hold their shape, consider browning them in a skillet before adding them to the soup.
Use homemade broth if possible. While store-bought broth works fine, using homemade beef broth will add an extra depth of flavor to your soup.
Adjust seasoning gradually. Start with less salt and pepper and adjust as needed. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 87kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 6gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.3gSodium: 1270mgPotassium: 683mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 3982IUVitamin C: 33mgCalcium: 85mgIron: 3mg
Keyword cabbage, meatballs, soup, zupa
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Cabbage soup served in bowls, meatballs on the side, bread knife, bread basket, dish with fresh dill

Conclusion

Perfect for chilly days in May or December or anytime you’re craving a bowl of cozy goodness, this Stuffed Cabbage Soup is as delicious as it is comforting. Drawing inspiration from the timeless flavors of stuffed cabbage rolls, let’s dive into the recipe and discover just how easy it is to make this hearty meal!

FAQ about Stuffed Cabbage Soup

Can I freeze stuffed cabbage soup?

Yes, you can freeze cabbage soup. However, it’s best to freeze the soup without the cabbage, as it can become mushy when thawed and reheated. Add fresh cabbage when you reheat the soup. Click HERE to read more about storage and reheating of this soup.

How long does stuffed cabbage soup last in the refrigerator?

Stuffed Cabbage Soup can last in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days when stored in an airtight container.

Can I use a different type of meat in the meatballs?

Yes, you can use ground beef, pork, chicken, ground turkey, or a combination of meats to make the meatballs.

Can I make stuffed cabbage soup vegetarian or vegan?

Yes, you can make stuffed cabbage soup vegetarian or vegan by using vegetable broth instead of beef broth and omitting the meatballs made from ground beef or using a plant-based meat substitute.

Can I use different vegetables in stuffed cabbage soup?

Yes, you can customize stuffed cabbage soup with your favorite vegetables. Some popular additions include potatoes, bell peppers, celery, and zucchini.

How can I make stuffed cabbage soup less watery?

To make cabbage soup less watery, you can reduce the amount of broth used or add ingredients like rice, quinoa, or barley to thicken the soup.

Can I make stuffed cabbage soup in a slow cooker or Instant Pot?

Yes, you can make stuffed cabbage soup in a slow cooker or Instant Pot. Simply follow the same steps for preparing the soup, then cook on low in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or pressure cook in an Instant Pot for 10 minutes.

Can I use pre-cooked meatballs in stuffed cabbage soup?

Yes, you can use pre-cooked meatballs (made from ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey) in cabbage soup. Simply add them to the soup during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking to heat them through.

Can I adjust the flavor of the stuffed cabbage soup?

Absolutely! You can adjust the flavor of your stuffed cabbage soup by experimenting with spices, herbs, acidity, umami ingredients, texture, and the type of stock, and you can also add brown sugar for a touch of sweetness to balance the savory flavors. Taste as you go and make adjustments until you achieve the desired taste.

Can I customize the stuffed cabbage soup?

Absolutely! Stuffed Cabbage Soup is known for being very versatile and can be customized for your preferences. Feel free to add additional ingredients like brown rice or even cauliflower rice for extra texture and nutrition, or adjust the seasonings to your taste.

Can I make this recipe with unstuffed cabbage?

Of course! If you prefer making an unstuffed cabbage roll soup and you enjoy the flavors of cabbage rolls without the hassle of rolling, you can certainly turn this into an unstuffed cabbage soup. Simply chop the cabbage into bite-sized pieces instead of rolling it around the meat mixture. Proceed with the recipe as directed, adjusting the cooking time slightly if needed to ensure the cabbage is tender.

Is this soup similar to unstuffed cabbage soup?

While this recipe draws inspiration from classic stuffed cabbage flavors, its one-pot preparation makes it a convenient and simplified version, often compared to unstuffed cabbage soup,

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I hope you love this delicious Stuffed Cabbage Soup recipe!

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