Cabbage Roll Soup | The Rising Spoon

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Cabbage Roll Soup

An easy, one-pot recipe for Cabbage Roll Soup that you can prep in about 20 minutes then simmer for an hour or more on the stovetop. The end result is a rich, yet healthy soup packed with tomato, beef & veggie flavors similar to stuffed cabbage rolls but without all the work. Ladle it into bowls with cooked white rice or cauliflower rice for a hearty meal that will warm your belly! (Gluten-Free with Paleo & Low-Carb option)

Cabbage Roll Soup Recipe (Paleo with Low-Carb Option)
Soup is one of my favorite meals to eat all year long (even in our 95-degree Texas heat) so I'm always on the lookout for new recipes to try. Cabbage roll soup has been on my "to make list" for several months now because of its rich, tomatoey broth (naturally, the best part). 

I finally gave it a go a few weeks ago while visiting my sister in Colorado but it was missing something. I made several tweaks and fixed it again once I was back in Texas. It tasted SO much better the second time. Third times the charm, though, right? 

I'm in Kansas City right now visiting my dad (who love, love, loves soup) and I coerced my sister into making it for us as a family meal (following my updated recipe) several days ago. My dad raved about how good it tasted and my sister loved it (she got to taste the experimental first round) so I knew I was ready to share it with y'all. :)

Easy Stovetop Cabbage Roll Soup (Paleo with Low-Carb Option)

This is one of those recipes that is super flexible in terms of swapping out or adding additional ingredients; however, its success hinges on you tasting and adjusting the seasonings so the broth tastes balanced to you. If you double certain ingredients or leave a particular one out without adjusting the ratios of others, it may not taste right. 

So, I'm going to give you some tips to hopefully avoid this scenario. Because...let's be're probably going to mess with the recipe. Most people do, myself included. :)

Important Ingredients For Balancing Out The Taste of the Cabbage Roll Soup

In my opinion (as someone who has made a much more pared down version of this soup), these ingredients are vital for enhancing the broth and ensuring all the flavors are balanced. If you increase or decrease certain ingredients, you need to tweak the ones listed below, to taste.

Bacon Fat: I almost always use 100% grass-fed ground beef in my recipes, which doesn't give off much grease. Fat = flavor, especially in soups, so the bacon grease is super important. I keep a jar of bacon grease in my fridge and add to it every time I fix a batch of roasted green beans with bacon & onion. If you don't have any on hand right now, cook up some fresh bacon before you start this soup OR substitute a 1/2 lb. of chopped kielbasa sausage or seasoned ground pork for part of the ground beef.  Yes, you can use olive oil, avocado oil, ghee or butter in place of the bacon grease, but it won't taste quite as good. 

Sweetener: This is a super important ingredient for balancing out in the acidity in the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Just like in homemade creamy tomato soup. If you decide to add extra diced tomatoes (especially if you're using the juice) that will increase the acidity in the broth and throw off the flavors. To offset this, stir in a teaspoon or more of sweetener (I prefer coconut sugar or honey) to the finished soup until it tastes right to you. Conversely, if you use less tomato sauce or omit it completely, you may want to reduce the sweetener.

Worcestershire sauce: This adds a punch of slightly salty umami flavor to the soup. I made the second version of this soup with fish sauce instead of Worcestershire sauce because I didn't have the latter on hand at the time. It worked, but I definitely prefer Worcestershire sauce. If you increase the beef broth or tomato sauce, you may need to increase this a teaspoon at a time to ensure the soup broth has enough savory depth. A good alternative to this would be concentrated beef stock or a few teaspoons of beef bouillon made with real food ingredients (if you can find one).

Lemon juice or white wine vinegar: Adding an acidic ingredient at the very end of cooking brightens up the flavors and brings everything together. I've used lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar with success. I wouldn't recommend balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar as they may dramatically alter/overpower the tomato & beef taste.

Sea Salt: This is one of those recipes where I add a bit of salt in the beginning as I layer in the ingredients (onion + carrot and ground beef) then adjust it near the end if it needs more. The tomatey soup broth benefits from a good amount of salt, however, the amount needed will vary greatly depending on the sodium content of the ingredients used. If you're using store-bought canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beef broth, most of them will have a good amount of salt already added, so you may not need much at the end. But if you're using low-sodium, salt-free, or homemade versions of the above ingredients, then you may need to add quite a bit to balance out the broth.

Easy & Healthy Cabbage Roll Soup Recipe

How Do I Make Cabbage Roll Soup Low Carb or Paleo-Friendly?

My dad is Type 2 diabetic so I purposefully created this with him in mind. He does best on a low(er) carb Primal diet since grains (like rice) spike his blood sugar. If you or a loved one are in the same boat, I HIGHLY recommend watching this Ted Talk Video on Type 2 Diabetes. It was an eye-opener for my whole family.

So, for the sweetener element (necessary for balancing out the acidity in the tomatoes), I chose coconut sugar since it's lower on the glycemic level and also paleo friendly. Of course, if you're following a hardcore low-carb lifestyle, you can substitute stevia or a low carb blend like swerve instead (to taste).

And to keep it grain-free & lower carb, I skipped the white rice in his bowl and used cauliflower rice instead. Super easy! You can grate it yourself using a whole cauliflower or find it pre-chopped in the refrigerated or freezer section of most grocery stores (Trader Joes and Whole Foods have it in the freezer section).

If you're a big fan of cauliflower, you can save even more money by collecting all the tiny bits of cauliflower that breaks off when you chop up the florets for dishes like mashed cauliflower and store it in the fridge or freezer until you have enough to use it as cauli rice in a recipe. 

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup Recipe (Paleo with Low-Carb Option)

Why Cook The Rice or Cauliflower Rice Separately?

The first time I made cabbage roll soup, I added 1/2 cup of uncooked white rice a bit after the tomato sauce and broth. It was tasty but the rice soaked up all the broth and made it very thick like a stew. I prefer a brothier soup, so it bums me out when the rice sits in the fridge with the soup overnight and soaks up most of the liquid. 

To solve this, I cook the rice (or cauliflower rice) separately, spoon 1/2 cup or so into each bowl, top it with 1-2 cups of the cabbage roll soup, stir and eat. It's just as yummy and leaves plenty of broth in the leftovers so I don't have to add additional water to loosen it up (which dilutes the flavors)!

Love Soup? Check Out My Other Favorite Soup Recipes:

Psssst...If you happen to make one of my recipes or DIY crafts and share it on InstagramFacebookTwitter, or Pinterest make sure to use the hashtag #therisingspoon and tag my account @therisingspoon so I see it! It helps me so much to get feedback on my creations and it totally makes my day. :)

cabbage roll soup, unstuffed cabbage roll soup, cabbage soup recipe, hamburger soup recipe
Yield: 6-8 servings

Cabbage Roll Soup

prep time: 20 minscook time: 1 hourtotal time: 1 hours and 20 mins
An easy, one-pot recipe for Cabbage Roll Soup that you can prep in about 20 minutes then simmer for an hour or more on the stovetop. The end result is a rich, yet healthy soup packed with tomato, beef & veggie flavors similar to stuffed cabbage rolls but without all the work. Ladle it into bowls with cooked white rice or cauliflower rice for a hearty meal that will warm your belly! (Gluten-Free with Paleo & Low-Carb option)


  • 1-2 tablespoons of bacon grease (see notes below)
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled & diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled & diced
  • 1.5 lbs of 100% grass-fed ground beef
  • 5 cups of shredded or chopped cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar, honey, or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed, peeled & minced
  • 1 (15 oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of tomato sauce
  • 4 cups of beef broth + extra to thin soup at the end, if desired
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (see notes in the post above)

  • For serving:
  • Cooked white rice or cauliflower rice
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese or full-fat sour cream (omit if dairy-free)
  • Sliced green onions


  1. Add the bacon grease to a large stock-pot set to medium heat. Add the onions and carrots, sprinkle with a bit of salt & pepper, then cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the ground beef, sprinkle with a bit more sea salt & pepper and cook about 5 minutes, breaking up into small chunks with a wooden spoon or spatula. Stir in the shredded or chopped cabbage and cook another 5 minutes.
  3. Measure in the Italian seasoning, paprika, bay leaves, crushed red pepper, coconut sugar (or preferred sweetener), Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, fire-roasted diced tomatoes (drained), tomato sauce, and broth.
  4. Stir well, cover with a lid, bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to medium-low or low and simmer for an hour. If you have time, let it simmer an extra 30-60 minutes to bring out even more flavor OR do this the next day when you are reheating the leftovers.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice or vinegar and taste the soup for seasoning. If needed, add more sea salt, black pepper, sweetener, or Worcestershire sauce to balance the flavors of the broth.
  6. To serve, portion ½ cup or more of cooked rice or cauliflower rice into each bowl and top with 2 cups of the piping hot soup. If desired, sprinkle the top of the soup with shredded cheese or add a dollop of sour cream, followed by some sliced green onions for garnish.


If you don’t have any bacon grease in your fridge (I almost always keep a jar of that liquid gold in there) do this 30 minutes before starting the soup: pop 12-16 ounces of bacon on a large rimmed baking sheet and cook in the oven at 375 or 400 degrees until it reaches your desired crispness (mine usually takes 20-ish minutes but check it at 15 minutes and keep an eye on it so the meat doesn’t burn). Put the cooked bacon aside on a paper towel lined plate, measure out the hot bacon grease into your stock-pot and you’re ready to go. You can use the cooked bacon as a garnish for the finished soup. :)
Created using The Recipes Generator

Recipe Adapted from Spend With Pennies' Crock Pot Cabbage Roll Soup and The Wholesome Dish's Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup

Click Here To Save This To Your Soup Recipes Board On Pinterest!

An easy, one-pot recipe for Cabbage Roll Soup that you can prep in about 20 minutes then simmer for an hour or more on the stovetop. The end result is a rich, yet healthy soup packed with tomato, beef & veggie flavors similar to stuffed cabbage rolls but without all the work. Ladle it into bowls with cooked white rice or cauliflower rice for a hearty meal that will warm your belly! (Gluten-Free with Paleo & Low-Carb option)

Don't miss a post! Want updates on my real food recipes, kitchen tutorials, DIY crafts, and healthy living articles on a weekly basis? Sign up using the box below.
PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I ONLY recommend helpful products that I myself would

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

No comments

Post a Comment

Blogger Template Created by pipdig
Customized and Tweaked with Love by The Lady Gadget
Back to Top