This rich and delicious cabbage soup is brimming with lots of Eastern European flavor from a mix of spices and savory, earthy ingredients. Prepared with tender chunks of pork shoulder, fresh cabbage as well as tangy sauerkraut, onions, garlic, paprika and caraway, this hearty and comforting cabbage soup recipe is just the nutritious dish to serve up when comfy-coziness is what you crave!
A Rustic and Hearty Cabbage Soup
After the holiday season and a substantial amount of indulging, my husband and I are quite ready to bring back in the slightly lighter and healthier fare to help us get back on track.
Soup is one of our absolute favorite things to make a meal out of, and we love to load it up with lots of healthy protein, aromatics and vegetables to create a savory, brothy and earthy elixir to warm up with at the end of our day.
My cabbage soup recipe is one that we've thoroughly been enjoying this winter season, and it's not only warming and healthy, but also hearty, meaty and deliciously satisfying.
Because of my Slovak heritage, I've put a bit of an Eastern European slant on this cabbage soup by preparing it with chunks of rich pork shoulder seasoned in a mixture of hot and sweet paprika, ground caraway seeds, and black and white pepper before a nice searing in the hot soup pot.
Then there's the shredded fresh cabbage, of course, but I don't stop there...
I also add crisp, tangy sauerkraut to the pot to offer a bit of brightness and balance out the savoriness, as well as lots of onions, garlic, and potatoes to build the flavors and create texture.
Slow simmered until the pork is delectably tender, this rich cabbage soup recipe is absolutely scrumptious ladled up and served with warm, crusty bread on the side for dipping!
My Recipe for Cabbage Soup
Friends, let me tell you that this cabbage soup has lots of depth, texture, flavor and richness, and makes for an unbelievably comforting meal during the cold months when we're looking for a little extra TLC.
To really make the cabbage the star in this soup, I'm making use of both fresh cabbage as well as sauerkraut to create that texture and add lots of flavor to every spoonful. I thinly shred some fresh cabbage, and use a pound of organic sauerkraut which I squeeze of excess juice to lessen the intensity of the tanginess a bit.
As for the meat, I like to use richly marbled pork shoulder here, and cut it into chunks myself so I can trim off any excess fat.
The seasoned pork just sort of melts into this cabbage soup and becomes delectably tender, providing some body and earthy flavor to the broth.
And because any cabbage soup worth its salt needs lot of seasoning and aromatics to really make it taste extra special, I'm opting for sweet paprika as well as a touch of hot paprika, ground caraway seeds, plus white and black pepper to season not only the pork before searing it, but also to add flavor to the soup itself.
Of course, there's also a generous amount of onions and garlic, which offer that savoriness to every bite, as well as diced potatoes for added hearty texture.
Here's a glance at my cabbage soup recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I season my pork with a portion of my spice mixture, as well as flour, and sear it in my hot pot until caramelized and browned, then remove the pork from the pot.
- Next, I add in my aromatics and remainder of my spices, and saute for a few moments until fragrant.
- Then, the sauerkraut and diced potatoes go in, followed by the seared pork and the fresh cabbage.
- I cover with chicken stock, and gently simmer, covered, for about 2 to 2 ½ hours, until the pork is melt-in-the-mouth tender.
- I finish the cabbage soup with a flourish of fresh parsley, drizzle in a touch of olive oil for added richness, and ladle up!
by Ingrid Beer
This rich, savory cabbage soup is brimming with tender pork shoulder, potatoes, fresh cabbage and tangy sauerkraut, and lots of spices!
Cuisine: Eastern European
Yield: Serves 8
Nutrition Info: 593 calories per serving
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Total time: 3 hours 15 minutes
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon hot paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- Olive oil
- 2 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut into chunks
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 large white onion, quartered and sliced
- 8 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 16 ounce jar sauerkraut (preferably organic), drained and squeezed thoroughly of excess juices
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 7 (heaping) cups shredded cabbage (about ½ of a medium head of cabbage)
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To a ramekin or small dish, add the paprika, ground caraway seeds, black pepper, hot paprika and white pepper, and use a fork to mix to combine. Set aside this spice mixture for a moment.
- Add the pork shoulder chunks to a large bowl, and sprinkle over about half of the spice mixture, along with a few good pinches of salt, and toss to coat. Sprinkle in the flour, and once again, toss to coat the meat in the flour.
- Place a large soup pot (roughly 6 to 8 quart size) over medium-high heat, and drizzle in a few generous tablespoons of the olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Once hot, add in the seasoned pork shoulder in batches, and allow to sear/brown on all sides for a few minutes. Remove the pork from the soup pot.
- Add more olive oil if needed, then add in the onions along with a pinch or two of salt, and saute for a few moments to soften and brown. Add in the remainder of the spice mixture, along with the garlic and dried parsley, and stir to combine.
- Once the garlic is aromatic (after about 30 seconds to 1 minute), add in the sauerkraut and the diced potatoes, and stir those in the coat in the seasoning and combine.
- Next, add the seared pork back into the pot, along with the shredded cabbage, and stir to incorporate.
- Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a vigorous simmer/boil, then reduce the heat so that the cabbage soup is at a simmer, and cover. Gently simmer the soup for about 2 ½ hours, until the pork is tender.
- To finish the cabbage soup, stir in the chopped parsley, check to see if any additional salt/pepper is needed, and drizzle in a small amount olive oil to enrich the soup (optional).
- Ladle up and enjoy the cabbage soup on its own, or with warm, rustic bread on the side.
Tips & Tidbits for my Cabbage Soup recipe:
- About half a head of green cabbage: For the fresh cabbage in this soup, I'm using about half of a medium head of organic, green cabbage, and shredding/slicing it thinly. You can use pre-packaged shredded cabbage if you'd like, using about 7 heaping cups worth.
- Crisp, tangy sauerkraut: Adding good quality, organic sauerkraut into this cabbage soup offers a bit of tanginess, which I love, as it cuts the richness a bit—I also love that little pop of sour! Take care to squeeze the sauerkraut out well of excess juices to keep the tanginess from becoming overpowering.
- Pork shoulder or Boston butt for rich meaty flavor: You're looking for nice marbled piece of pork here to offer some richness and silkiness to the broth as the soup cooks. A touch of fat is good for this recipe, as it will melt into the soup and offer flavor. You can cut away any excess fat wherever you see too much. You can also buy pre-cut/pre-cubed pork shoulder, if preferred.
- Prepare your cabbage soup ahead for deeper, richer flavor: As with all soups and stews, as they sit for a day or two, their flavor deepens. So if you'd like to prep this cabbage soup several days ahead of when you'd like to serve it, know that the flavors will be even deeper and richer as the soup sits for that time, as they will have had a chance to meld together.
- Freeze leftovers for future enjoyment: Seeing as this recipe yields a large pot of soup, you'll have plenty for several days. If you'd like to freeze a portion of the soup for future meals, you absolutely can. Simply add cool soup to freezer-safe plastic containers with lids, or even large freezer ziplock bags to lay flat. Thaw in the fridge a couple of days before you'd like to reheat and enjoy.
Hungry for more mouthwatering and comfy-cozy soup recipes? Check out this Cabbage Roll Soup, this Harvest Stew with Smoked Sausage, this Tuscan Kale and Sausage Soup, this Brussels Sprout Soup with Bacon, this Beef Barley Soup, this Steak and Ale Soup with Mushrooms, or this Chicken and Dumpling Soup!