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.
This easy cabbage roll soup takes its inspiration from classic cabbage rolls, a dish that is popular throughout Eastern Europe and many other parts of the world too.
In this soup, you’ll find the core cabbage roll ingredients—ground beef, rice, cabbage, a savory tomato broth—reimagined as a healthy, hearty, and nourishing soup.
Think of it as unstuffed cabbage roll soup: you get the cabbage roll flavor, for way less fuss!
It’s an easy, one-pot meal.
(For another “unstuffed” recipe, check out this top-rated Stuffed Pepper Casserole.
Cabbage Rolls Around the World
Stuffed cabbage rolls are a common dish throughout most of Eastern Europe.
That said, the comfort of cabbage rolls is global.
- While this soup most closely resembles the ingredients in European cabbage rolls (you’ll find stuffed cabbage rolls in Ukraine, Poland, and Russia among others), Western Asia, Northern China, as well as parts of North Africa have their own versions of this recipe.
- Most stuffed cabbage rolls begin with some type of meat (usually beef, pork, or lamb) and rice wrapped inside cooked cabbage leaves.
- They’re 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.
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.
For a meat-free version of this recipe that uses white beans instead of beef, check out this simple Cabbage Soup recipe.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Season the beef with salt and pepper and cook until browned.
- Add the carrots, parsnips, and onions, then stir in the garlic.
- Add the broth, tomato sauce, rice, herbs, maple syrup, Worcestershire, and red pepper flakes.
- Let the mixture boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage.
- Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove the soup from the heat, and stir in the vinegar. ENJOY!
- 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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
Cabbage Roll Soup
- 1 pound lean ground beef (or try with ground turkey or ground pork sausage)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
- 1/4 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.
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Not a fan of parsnips. What may I substitute? Find parsnips very bitter
Hi Joyce! I think you could swap in additional carrots or even a different root veggie like sweet potato or white potato. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!
Absolutely wonderful and full of flavor! Bought 2 heads of cabbage and only needed one, but next time I go to the store I will buy the rest of the ingredients to make a second pot!!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Sharon! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
Unable to get parsnips so used extra carrots. Very tasty and healthy. Also made broccoli cornbread to go with. Yummy!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Vicki! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
This soup is delicious. I am eating a bowl for lunch right now and it’s just as good now as when I made it first on Sunday. It came together so easily, and I love the addition of parsnip. I had some in my fridge, so that was good timing. I look forward to making this again. Thanks Erin!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Elizabeth! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
Yummy! This brings back so many memories (I have some Ukrainian in my background and live in a community with many people of Ukrainian descent!). This tasted JUST like a deconstructed version of what I remember eating. I haven’t make real rolls in years because they are so much work. Lol. Thank you again!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Jenn! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
I am not a fan no of maple syrup. Is there a substitution or what does the syrup add to the recipe?
Hi Carol! The maple syrup helps to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. I haven’t made the soup without it, but you could experiment with omitting it if you prefer. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!
Planning on making cabbage rolls and found your recipe.Tasty, healthy meal for my family, enjoyed by all for dinner tonight. Keeper recipe Thank you!
So pleased to hear it Lois, thank you!
It’s a winner with my husband and I. My kids are a little more fussy, the oldest liked it but not the youngest.
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Pamela! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
This was so easy, delicious, and comforting. I used ground turkey and it worked perfectly. I especially love the addition of the parsnips. I’ll definitely be making this again, thank you!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Rachel! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
I make a similar unstuffed cabbage roll soup. One trick I have is to always cook a pound of ground beef five minutes in a covered pot that has a drain in the microwave. I got my first at Pampered Chef and my second some where else, really cheap. It is easy to drain the fat and then use a serrated edge food chopper to easily break up the beef. After I add the cabbage, beef, beef, and seasonings, I pour a can of sauerkraut on it and then a large can of crushed tomatoes. I have made this in the crockpot, instant pot, and on the stove. People that don’t eat sauerkraut are amazed at this dish. I learned this from a family member that had lost his arm in WWII. He made the best meatloaf as well. I hope you will try this and not be disappointed. I love your site!
Thanks for sharing your adaptation, Jo Anne! I hope you enjoy this version if you try it!
Easy, really tasty and cozy for winter!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Annie! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
Thank you for the wonderful selection of gluten free recipes but if I may point out Worcester sauce in Europe is not Gluten free as it uses Malt vinegar in the ingredients. and a GF version is not available currently. I substituted GF soy-sauce and the result was delicious.
Thanks for sharing this information, Marguerite! I’m happy you enjoyed the recipe!
This recipe is amazing! I came across your blog last night while looking for cabbage recipes. The only changes I made was, make my own tomatoe sauce from my garden tomatoes. I also didn’t add carrots or parsnips since my family is not a fan of them. I did add a bit roasted beef base to beef stock. Also, I had instant rice, so I added it to the last 5 minutes of cooking. I have to tell you, this is soooo good! I also have to thank you, I needed to triple this recipe and I was getting ready to calculate it out, and whoohoo!!! I didn’t have to, you have it so we can change the recipe size! I will be following you and I already have told my entire family about your blog this morning. Thank you again!
Hi Tammy! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Loved this recipe and I’m making it again today, doubling the recipe as last time I loved it so much, I gave most of it away. I added Hungarian paprika to the meat and vegetables as they cooked, as that’s how I was taught to make cabbage rolls. Big hunk of homemade bread to go with it. ❤
Hi Lori! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Excellent flavors. A hearty soup without the heavy calories.
Hi Sue! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
This is one of my all-time favorite soups! I have made it at least five times. I always add more carrots and leave out the parsnips and the bay leaves. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!
Hi Kaitlyn! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
This sounds incredible! I love stuffed cabbage, so I’ll have to give it a try sometime soon!
Hope you enjoy it Dalya!
Do you think this soup could be made in a crock pot? If so what alterations would you recommend?
Hi Jahrens! I have not played around with preparing this recipe as a crockpot cabbage roll soup. 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 recipe for some ideas on cooktimes. https://www.wellplated.com/crock-pot-chicken-and-rice-soup/
I halved the recipe since there’s just the two of us. I made this with no substitutions and used Sherry wine vinegar. Oh my, was it good. I suspect it will be even better at noon today with a crusty hunk of bread. Another keeper from this week’s meal plan!
Hi Roverta! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
I made this soup tonight. Unfortunately the rice is not cooking! Its been on the stove for 2 hours and the rice is still hard. I am boiling soup now.
Hi Karlene! I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe. Brown rice should never take more than 50 minutes to cook. This is per the instructions on the packaging so I am not sure why you are having problems with it. It’s really hard for me to know without being in the kitchen with you.