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


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.


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