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 Soup Recipes

A little side note, if you enjoy making soups as much as I do, you'll want to start making your own homemade bouillon powder. So easy, and nice to keep on hand!

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Rustic Cabbage Soup

4.71 from 24 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


I made this last night because I just happened to have all of the ingredients and they needed to be used up. I caramelized the onions and cabbage a bit at the beginning. It was an early prep since it’s not on the menu for another couple days, but my husband and I couldn’t keep our spoons out of it while it was cooling! I also used Penzey’s Mural of Flavor as seasoning and Heidi’s vegetable bouillon (the paste, not the powder) as the base.


    Thanks Beth! Glad you enjoyed it!

    Heidi Swanson

Mariquita is the farm that introduced me to the concept of a CSA back in 2004 or 2005 when I was in grad school in Monterey. It also introduced me to lots of produce I’d never seen before (cardoon-lover forever!) and, honestly, spoiled me for all future CSAs with its quality, variety, and value. I often think of it fondly now that year-round CSAs are just a dream. Can’t wait to try this recipe while pondering the good old days of giant produce boxes for a song!


My garden is overflowing with cabbage. I knew this website would have the perfect recipe. I made one tweak by adding a parmessan cheese rind to the soup. I added it with the broth, beans, etc. This soup will become a seasonal meal when cabbage is ready for harvest in my garden..


    Fantastic Brenda!

    Heidi Swanson

Just made this and it's just perfect on a rainy night!! Topped with chili crisp and other suggestions that made it sooo good- thank you Heidi! Healthy IS delicious. Excited for my lunches this week.


    Thanks Marilyn!

    Heidi Swanson

I made the cabbage soup with your bouillon (without the coconut milk powder) & really like it! My 6yr old gave the soup an “ok” but gobbled it up


    Love this, thanks Jill!

    Heidi Swanson

My family absolutely love cabbage soup. It's one of my family's favorite meals because it's full of flavor, super hearty, and always satisfies our cravings. We often make it with some fresh herbs to really bring out the flavor, but I also like to top it with a dollop of sour cream or serve it with freshly baked bread on the side. Delicious!

Mary Joy

I added a can of diced tomatoes and dried oregano and basil. Then it was perfect.


    Sounds delicious!

    Heidi Swanson

This soup is marvelous! I think the browning of the potatoes is a masterstroke and deepens the flavor. I added fresh dill towards the end and also threw in a tablespoon of miso paste when I pulled it off the heat, my new flavor builder for soups of all kinds.

Barbara Robinson

    Love the miso addition Barbara!

    Heidi Swanson

Wowza! I made this recipe exactly as written, and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s phenomenally delicious and so easy to pull together. Do not ignore the salt advice; I don’t think this would work well in a low-salt iteration. I am thrilled to instantly add this to my top-tier recipe rotation! Thank you for another excellent recipe, Heidi.


    Thanks so much Debs!!

    Heidi Swanson

Made this last night Delicious added a little corn and more salt. Topped with some cashew crema I had made, but it didn't really need it.


    Yes to the corn add - sounds yum!

    Heidi Swanson

I’ve made this soup many times (posted on your blog many years ago, I think this must be an updated recipe???) and it’s so much greater than the sum of it’s part. It’s really amazing. I’ve turned many people on to it over the years as well. If the leftovers get really thick, it’s great with a fried egg on top for breakfast!


    Hi Toni - I love the breakfast idea. And yes, I updated the photos (and added a bit of olive oil to the recipe) last week. So happy you've enjoyed it!

    Heidi Swanson

Wait, you moved back to SF? Hard to tell timelines on your posts without dates. If so, I am in Santa Cruz county and love the pro tips. Thank you!


    Hi Anna - no, this soup recipe is from 2008. Mariquita is still near you though.

    Heidi Swanson

kc - you really can make delicious soup in a short amount of time. Also note the word "rustic". I love this site because it inspires people to think differently about food and cooking. You really can make a meal in 10 minutes. Dinner doesn't have to be an elaborate production.


mmm mmm I'm so obsessed with soup right now this looks great!


Great recipe. Great site. I just posted a review of 101 Cookbooks on my blog's Sidebar Reviews feature. Keep up the great work.


I made this tonight; was at a friend's talking about the recipe saying I needed to stop for cabbage on the way home & she offered me her 1/2 cabbage. Now that's a friend and the soup is delicious; very satisfying. Thanks your recipes. Linda/CT


This soup was so much better than the sum of its parts. My daughter came in the kitchen when I was making it and was very doubtful that it would taste like anything because there were so few ingredients. She, and the rest of us, were delightfully surprised. I ate it again for lunch today and it was, possibly, even more delicious. Thanks, Heidi.


I'm having people over for football on Sunday and was dreading the thought of making yet another pot of chili. This recipe sounds absolutely perfect AND low budget. Cabbage is one of those ingredients people don't even know they like. I LOVE the site. Keep it up!


Very nice pics. I like your pictures. I have discovered your blog today and I have enjoyed a lot your stories.


Oooh how Mafioso! I just love reading your stories, they are sheer delight! The images you invoke when you write about trysts with dealers and $25 mystery bags are pure fun. The soup looks great too!


dear Heidi, Thanks a ton for this wonderfully simple recipe of cabbage soup. Living in India, could you please suggest a substitute for olive oil. It is available in some outlets here in Delhi, but one has to really 'hunt' for it. With best wishes, Deepak.


    Hi Deepak - you can use another fat or oil - ghee, butter, sunflower seed oil...all would be nice. Enjoy!

    Heidi Swanson

Heidi -- I love your blog, your cookbook and your overall perspective on food. I also love the versatility of soups. They can be light and refreshing or hearty and satisfying. This soup looks perfect for a Sunday afternoon.


I have been sick with a head cold for DAYS and this sounded ssooooo good when I saw it. I made it tonight and it was perfect. Although my potatoes started to stick to the bottom of the pot, but it ended up ok. The veg broth deglazed it and it thickened the soup nicely. Even my husband, who doesn't like cabbage enjoyed it and even had a second bowl! Thanks for the feel good soup.


i love reading your stories, you make your culinary experiences sound like crazy adventures. do you know of any farms around ventura county that do something like your mystery boxes?


So, okay, ended up using the kale in the rice and poached eggs recipe which was AMAZING, btw. And made this soup to eat all week w/ Napa cabbage. This is so good and the broth is so delicate, yet it's hearty. Heidi, my heavens you help keep this gal well-fed.


    Thanks Deb!

    Heidi Swanson

Your pictures are amazing! Thanks for sharing! I'm going to have to pick up a cabbage this week at the grocery store...

Jen O

There's nothing quite like vegetables straight from the farm and nothing like soup on a cold day.


In response to the digestibility question, and with apologies for tinkering with the recipe, try some or all of the following: cook a little longer / pre-cook the beans sacrifice the nutrients from the bean-water [sad, but you do what you gotta do] beano does work go for a long, after-dinner walk (many people find that low-level walking calms cramping; some doctors prescribe it for Crohn's) if garlic affects you, use less, but brown it. Epicures will tell you that the quality of the taste suffers, but you get a stronger flavor for less garlic. This works even better for onions.


Oh yum. I wonder if i can use this for the cabbage soup diet - post-holiday dieting wouldn't be so dreary with all the cheese and olive oil!


Okay, I've never been a big cabbage fan, but I'll try this one for you. Your bulgur, celery, and pomengranate recipe saved me during a snowstorm last week. So, here's to giving old tastes a new shot in the new year! wishing you the best!


I was lucky enough to get a mystery box this week. What an awesome selection! I'm a J&A friend and CSA subscriber, and this "challenging" box was so much more exciting. Tonight we had potato soup, romanesco with cheese sauce (I have kids), and arugula salad with cippolini and toasted almonds. I was wishing I could get it together to post about how great everything was, but never got to photographing. Now I can just post to you. Thanks!


Soups like this are great with a little walnut oil instead of evoo. Mmmmm.


    Love this idea!

    Heidi Swanson

I love mystery boxes. When I lived in DC, my coworker and I subscribed to a mystery box service from a local farm. We'd pay 80 total and then split the spoils on the floor of my office. Our coworkers always thought we were nuts as we counted out potatoes or oranges or little containers of homemade yogurt. We'd spend the rest ofthe week trading the way little kids do with lunch. I'd come in and say "You know, I don't think I'll be using the carrots afterall, want to trade for those eggs you didn't think you'd be able to finish?" or "I'll give you three white peaches for that canteloupe." I particularly like the way it forces you to use what's in season (well, unless you find someone willing to trade with you.)


Looks inviting, though I like my soups a little more creamy...I made a roasted cauliflower and bell-pepper soup recently:) never tried one with cabbage yet....


So fabulous to read a post about Mariquita Farms' guerilla CSA. I'm an avid Andy & Julia fan (I recieved their CSA newsletter even as an East Bay resident! and got to spend an afternoon trying to keep up with Andy on a farm tour and experienced his passion and no-nonsense perspective about local foods in the Bay) and I've been interested in their fresh new take on the CSA model. Your blog continues to inspire me--thank you!


This sounds absolutely yummy. I just bought a head of cabbage and have been craving soup so looks like this delicious recipe will be on the menu. Thanks for all the great recipes, Heidi. Sandy


The cabbage soup sounds wonderful! I'm glad to see I'm not the only one that likes beans and cabbage together! And your mystery boxes....what fun!


Your timing is just SO perfect! I got my first delivery from Urban Organic last night and what should I find in there but a big fat cabbage?? so excited to try this...


Heidi, there are few places on the web that I frequent, but yours is one. Being that I am a web designer by day, I often could pass on surfing, but your images always stop me. Your recipes always deliver. Simple, but well thought out. Spontaneous, but considerate. Thanks, Lollya


yumi!! sounds so great...i just got some cabbage and its still a bit nippy at night in Southern California. i could totally see myself eating this in front of the tv watching American Idol


I love Mariquita Farms! I have been a member of their CSA on and off since I moved to the bay area. I attribute their CSA with my learning how to cook unusual vegetables--for example, I got a bunch of cardoon from them last spring. Cardoon?! when do you ever see that in the grocery store?? Also, since you don't dictate what you get every week, I found that I was cooking more adventurously in order to use up everything that I got each week. More veggies, unusual preparations--it's a win-win situation. Thanks for highlighting them--they're great!


This sounds wonderful! I can't eat a lot of starch, though - what might be a good replacement for the potatoes? Would parsnips get too mushy?


what a great way to use some of those left over cabbage that always seem to slip my mind.


This is perfect. I just purchased a head of cabbage and was trying to figure out what to do with it. I enjoy your site so much! Thanks!


It was 10 degrees here this morning, so a big bowl of hot soup sounds wonderful right about now--and I even have all the ingredients on hand. I never would have thought to combine potatoes, beans, and cabbage, but your recipe looks and sounds delish. I love Joyce's suggestion to add caraway seeds and a can of diced tomatoes. I was thinking maybe some fresh herbs from the greenhouse. But of course that's the most wonderful thing about soup--there's an infinite number of ways to make even the simplest recipe!

Farmgirl Susan

Thank you for a lovely recipe! Your recipies are a real inspiration for us all! And your photos are lovely.


This is a delicious recipe. Thanks for posting.


Potato and cabbage were made to go together. I was actually introduced to a variation of this soup a long, long time ago, when I was a dieting adolescent. The surprise was that I loved the "diet" soup (which perhaps defeated the purpose). But then, even back then I was improvising in the kitchen. I envy the year-round availability of locally grown produce in Heidi's neck of the woods. I also wish that we had easier access to CSAs, but there's an odd phenomenon in the Midwest right now, or at least in the St. Louis region. Farmers are getting out of CSA and choosing to sell at the markets (or to local-produce stores that are popping up, or to restaurants). At least I can read about Heidi's contraband!


Here in Sweden we have a few suppliers of organic produce who will deliver boxes to the door. Every week the contents change and while it's not a mystery box there's enough variety with the various boxes they offer that I'm often inspired to try completely new ingredients and combinations. And often I find myself turning to 101 Cookbooks for that inspiration! Thanks for a great post as usual Heidi.


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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