Rustic Cabbage Soup

Hearty, healthy, and satisfying - this cabbage soup recipe is super simple to make. Slice a cabbage into thin ribbons and cook it down in a simple pot of sautéed potatoes, onions, beans, garlic and flavorful broth. Finish each bowl with a generous drizzle of great olive oil, a couple dollops of sour cream and a jolt of something spicy.

Rustic Cabbage Soup

Today's cabbage soup recipe was inspired by the a mystery box delivery from Mariquita Farm in Watsonville, Ca. I show up to a designated pick-up spot, pay $25 and in turn get what feels like twenty pounds of beautiful produce direct from the farm. This time of year I might see the eyes of impossibly petite potatoes peering back at me, they could be nestled alongside a kaleidoscope of vibrantly colored carrots, or shouldered up against a of pile of parsnips.
Soup and Sourdough Bread on a Table

Cabbage Soup Ingredients

Taking inspiration from a beautiful moon-shaped cabbage and potatoes in the mystery box, I sliced a the cabbage into thin ribbons and cooked it down in a simple pot of sautéed potatoes, beans, onions, garlic and flavorful broth. Each bowl was finished with a generous drizzle of great olive oil, a couple dabs of sour cream and a jolt of something spicy - in this case a bit of Calabrian chile paste. Couldn't be more simple.
Soup Bowls on a Marble Table Near a Window

But before I get too far ahead of myself on the soup front, let me tell you a bit more about Mariquita Farm and what Andy and Julia are doing. There's a bit of back story. I used to buy produce from Mariquita at the farmers market on Saturdays. After many years they decided not to do the market anymore. Mariquita sells my favorite rainbow carrots, and I was convinced I was going to have to find a new source. Not the case, Julia emailed some of her regulars last summer mentioning that she would be making the occasional delivery to San Francisco..."would we be interested in doing a pick-up?" She also mentioned the option of buying one of Andy's specially curated mystery boxes - which have since become very popular.

This isn't a CSA, it's more guerilla than that. As it stands now, every other week(ish) Julia and Andy pack a huge delivery truck with many, many mystery boxes. Julia then climbs into the big truck and navigates her way over the Santa Cruz mountains down into Silicon Valley and then north toward San Francisco. She parks the truck in front of a previously designated neighborhood restaurant and people come from all over the city to trade cash for mystery crops. It's great. I end up trying all manner of ingredients I might not buy otherwise. The crops are beautiful and bright because Andy takes such care in growing and handling them.

With out sounding too mushy, this is just one more reason I love living in San Francisco. On a good night, not only do I go home with the box (er, bag - the boxes get reused), but sometimes I even get to sit down for a drink or slice of pizza and catch up with Julia. It's a real treat.

A few related links:

Rustic Cabbage Soup

Cabbage Soup Variations

Back to the soup - there are a bunch of variations I've made over the years cooking this. Here are a few stand-outs.

  • Parmesan Cabbage Soup: There are nights when I keep this super simple, finishing things off with a generous dusting of Parmesan cheese and a few chopped herbs.
  • Curried Cabbage Soup: Add a scant tablespoon of curry powder to the pot prior to stirring in the broth.
  • Lemony Cabbage Soup: Make the soup as written but serve each bowl topped with freshly grated lemon zest and a generous drizzle of lemon olive oil.

Rustic Cabbage Soup

Cabbage Soup Leftovers

This is a great next-day soup. So keep that in mind. Generally speaking, there are a couple ways to deal with leftovers here (like, if you make a double pot). Cabbage soup freezes well, so eat your fill of the soup for a couple days, and freeze the remaining. You'll want to make sure it is room-temperature or cold prior to freezing. Allow to thaw before reheating.

I suspect many of you have all the ingredients needed on hand - aside from the cabbage. I'm going to encourage you to give this a try! It's a great staple recipe to have in your back pocket. This recipe was posted in early 2008, and I've cooked it many times in the years since. Enjoy! -h
Rustic Cabbage Soup

More Favorite Soup Recipes

Here's where you can browse all the soup recipes. I love this broccoli cheddar soup, and this coconut red lentil soup is much loved by everyone who tries it. This ribollita is a reliable winter warmer, and if you enjoy making soups as much as I do, you'll want to start making your own homemade bouillon powder. Oh! And this wonton soup has been a favorite this year. I also love make-ahead soups like this Tortellini Soup ,these Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles, and this Italian Barley Soup

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Rustic Cabbage Soup

4.72 from 21 votes

Use a good tasting vegetable broth or boost some water with a cube of bouillon here. I like to make my own homemade bouillon powder, but use what you've got. The goal is a using agreat tasting broth for your base. For a soup this simple, it's important. For the vegans out there, just skip the cheese or dairy in the added toppings, or swap in something like an herby drizzle in place of the dairy.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 pound potatoes, skin on, cut 1/4-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 cups vegetable broth or water (see head notes)
  • 2 cups white beans, precooked or canned (drained & rinsed well)
  • 1/2 medium cabbage / 12 ounces, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons
  • Topping ideas: sour cream, spicy chile paste, chives, more good-quality extra-virgin olive oil (or chile oil) for drizzling
  1. Warm the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt and potatoes. Cover and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes - it's o.k. to uncover to stir a couple times.

  2. Stir in the garlic and onion and cook for another minute or two. Add the broth and the beans and bring the pot to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a couple more minutes, until the cabbage softens up a bit and the soup comes back up to a simmer. Now adjust the seasoning with more salt if needed. Getting the seasoning right is important or your soup will taste flat and uninteresting. The amount of salt you will need to add will depend on how salty your stock is (varying widely between brands, homemade, etc)...

  3. Serve hot with a couple dollops of sour cream, a drizzle of good olive oil, a bit of something spicy (like a chile paste), and a sprinkling of chives.


Serves 4.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
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Recipe Rating


oh yum! i'm definitely doing CSA starting in june -- i just heard about for the first time a few weeks ago and pretty much thought it was the best idea ever (you can't sign up in the middle of the six-month programs, which is why i have to wait till june -- although the farmer's market will tide me over). i think the "mystery box" will expand my cooking skills, too, because i'll get ingredients that i might not otherwise buy!


I had made a cabbage and potato soup with the huge head of cabbage that I picked up at the end of the farmer market season, and it was just the thing in blustery winter. Now I splurged on some Yukon Gold's from the grocery, so this might just have to end up in my soup pot! Mmm, I feel warmer already.


I think I know what I'm having for dinner on this chilly day.


We belonged to a food co-op when we were living in NYC (of all places) and it was wonderful coming up with recipes for the new and interesting things I'd find in my brown bag every 2 weeks. I miss it! BTW, Heidi, I met a young up and coming vegan cookbook author, Hannah Kaminsky (she lives in my town). Fantastic book with fantastic photos...and to think she's still a teenager! She said you might be featuring her at some point on your blog....I'll look forward to it! She's really incredible!

The Secret Ingredient

it's not as COLORFUL as the other stuff you make... i miss the color.


This sounds like just the ticket for a really chilly day- no potatoes for us (diabetic husband) but I can add more beans!

Deborah Dowd

Good reminder of the simple things! This is an old favorite,long forgotten. The addition of some caraway seeds will give it an old world flavor for variety — also nice with a can of diced tomatoes. But just the way you made it is perfect for me. Nice story, too!


    Love the caraway and tomato angle!

    Heidi Swanson

Would this not solve the nearly nightly question "What am I going to make for supper tonight?" I love this idea and wish I lived in an area that provided something like this. What a great way to avoid the same old same old. ps: I have been looking for purple carrots ever since the first post.


Heidi - My mystery box had a purple cabbage - would this work as well?


    I'd make a slaw with the purple cabbage!

    Heidi Swanson

Hmmm - I was going to use up the half cabbage in my fridge as a vegetable to accompany tonight's spaghetti bolognese.... now I'm not so sure, as I shall need to make soup tomorrow, and your recipe really looks good! I love cabbage soup (I think it's specially good if you put the outside leaves of a cauliflower in there, too, and as tomorrow night's supper is to be cauliflower cheese, I think I just might use the outside leaves with the cabbage). All of which means I'll have to get another green vegetable for tonight.... hmmm..... or buy another cabbage, of course!

Mrs Redboots

We tried getting a weekly surprise basket of local produce here in Chicago, but somehow ended up with raspberries from California. Oh well. They said it was "supplemental." I'd have rather gotten just 10 lbs of local onions. I hope this isn't inappropriate, but beans AND cabbage? My stomach is cramping at just the thought. I've been avoiding both of those foods (and I miss them terribly) because of the gas/bloat/cramp problem. Does anyone have a solution? How do the rest of you do it?


Hi Heidi, Do you think kale would work instead of cabbage if that's what one has on hand? Thanks for another great idea! deb


    Yes! Sounds wonderful.

    Heidi Swanson

Back in my college days (eons ago), a friend gave me his Russian grandmother's cabbage borscht recipe, which sounds a lot like this minus potatoes and beans and plus sour salt (citric acid) and tomatoes (she made it with beef broth of course). I still make it at least once every winter. Now I have a new cabbage soup to try!


I live in Florida. It went down to 40 degrees. Brrrr. Just the right touch for tonight's dinner!


Yes! I am always looking for a new cabbage recipe. Such a frugal vegetable but I never know what to do with it.


I'm trying this recipe today! It is snowing & windy...I need the comforting warm-up this soup can provide. Fantastic photos!


Simple foods are so comforting! I LOVE cabbage soup and instead of boullion, now carmelize a large yellow onion or two, with celery and carrot before adding the water and cabbage cut into chunks. Salt and pepper and some thyme and it's ready. One or two crimini's add just enough earthiness to do something special to the cabbage. It's so good, this kind of soup.


Heidi, thank you for all these great down to earth recipes, haven't tried any yet, but this soup will definately be on my stove this weekend!!

Karien from Johannesburg

your pictures are so beautiful!


It's 11:32 am my time in Baku and I was just wondering what I was going to make for dinner tonight when I get home from work. You know the there's-nothing-in-the-fridge routine. Then I stopped by your site (which I do daily) and there this simple and oh-so-good sounding recipe and as luck would have it, I have all the ingredients in my fridge! Thank you Heidi for your down to earth and delicious meals. They remind me that a meal doesn't have to take a ton of prep time, 24 steps and four hours. Most importantly, your creations encourage me to be a bit freer in the kitchen and less tied to following recipes verbatim. Thank you for that!

Julie in Baku

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