Easy Cabbage Roll Soup

Easy Cabbage Roll Soup_Hero

This post may contain affiliate links, please see our privacy policy for details.

This sarmale-inspired easy cabbage roll soup recipe is the perfect cure for the cabbage roll craving with a quarter of the work. Inspired by the pickled flavors of Romanian cabbage rolls, this cabbage soup is perfect for a cold day.

Easy Cabbage Roll Soup_MidPage – 1

I was making sarmale, which is Romanian cabbage rolls. As is customary with cabbage rolls, I ran out of oomph, so cabbage roll soup was in order. The finished product was out of this world good especially with my one nifty little trick to the cabbage.

My secret ingredient for this cabbage roll soup recipe? It’s a reference back to sarmale, which traditionally uses pickled cabbage leaves. I couldn’t find these, so I boiled the cabbage in water, vinegar, and just a bit of sugar. Not a ton, but this step adds just a tiny kick of something-something to the soup! If you want to save yourself time and trouble, just chop up fresh cabbage instead.

Easy Cabbage Roll Soup_MidPage

This soup is so easy to make and it’s loaded with flavor. I highly recommend not skipping the boiling step of the cabbage, but if you’re in a pinch with time, it’ll still be delicious.

How to make this easy cabbage roll soup:

First, blanch the cabbage in water, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Boil for 7–10 minutes depending on the size of your cabbage. Transfer the cabbage to an ice bath. Once it is cool enough to handle, quarter the cabbage and thinly slice each quarter. Pour the liquid from the pot and wipe it out and return it back to the stovetop.

From there, simply fry up the meat and transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate. Cook the aromatics. I used celery and onion, but feel free to throw in a diced carrot or even a chopped fennel bulb. Next, add butter, rice, and spices. I used garlic powder, crushed red pepper, fresh dill, and fresh parsley.

Add some water and tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes and add the meat and cabbage. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30–40 minutes or until the rice is tender. That’s it!

Serve this soup up with fresh dill, lemon, and Greek yogurt if you like. I used crème fraîche and thinned it out with a little water to make it a drizzling consistency. A dollop of sour cream would also be delicious.

Looking for more soup recipes? Check my archives!

If you made this cabbage roll soup recipe, please rate it and comment below! You can also follow me and share your creations by tagging me! I’d love to feature your #triedandtruerecipes creation on my feed.

Easy Cabbage Roll Soup_MidPage

Easy Cabbage Roll Soup

This sarmale-inspired easy cabbage roll soup recipe is the perfect cure for the cabbage roll craving with a quarter of the work. Inspired by the pickled flavors of Romanian cabbage rolls, this cabbage soup is perfect for a cold day.
4.91 from 10 votes
Print Pin Share on Facebook
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 368kcal



  • 1 small head green cabbage cored
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 pound ground meat like beef, turkey, pork, or even chicken
  • 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
  • 4 ribs celery with leaves, trimmed and small-diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter optional
  • ½ cup long-grain rice
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • cup fresh dill minced or use 2 teaspoons dry
  • cup fresh parsley minced or use 2 teaspoons dry
  • 4 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 14.5- ounce can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For serving, optional:

  • Greek yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraîche
  • Fresh dill
  • Lemon wedges


Boil the cabbage (optional):

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the vinegar and sugar. Once boiling, add the cabbage and cook for 7–10 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath. Wipe out the pot and return it to the stove.
  • Once the cabbage is cool enough to handle, cut it into quarters and thinly slice each quarter. Set aside.

Brown the meat:

  • Add the oil to the pot over medium heat. Add the meat and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon for 12–15 minutes until it is browned all over and mostly cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

Cook the aromatics:

  • Add more oil to the pot, if needed, over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7–10 minutes until they soften. Season lightly wth salt and pepper.
  • Melt the butter into the aromatics. Add the rice, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, dill and parsley (dry or fresh) and toss to coat. Cook 1 minute until the rice begins to toast.

Simmer the soup:

  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes and add the water or stock. Bring to a boil and add the bay leaves. Reduce heat. Stir in the cooked meat and cabbage. Simmer for 30–40 minutes or until the rice is tender. Taste and season once more to your preferences. Note: You may want to add a teaspoon of sugar depending on how acidic your canned tomatoes are.

To serve:

  • Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with fresh dill. Drizzle with Greek yogurt thinned out with lemon juice and a splash of water. Enjoy!


Calories: 368kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 22g | Sodium: 121mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin C: 64mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @triedandtruerecipes or tag #triedandtruerecipes so I can feature you in my feed!


  1. 5 stars
    Wow! I’ve been craving sarmale for literally years but never had the patience to roll the cabbage. This is AMAZING!
    It came together so quickly and is the perfect cold weather stew. Boiling the cabbage really is worth the extra step. Thank you for sharing! Pofta buna!

    1. 5 stars
      Also – forgot to add I used a plant based sausage instead of meat and it was super delicious, if a little less unctuous due to lack of fat.

      1. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe and the plant-based sausage sounds delicious! I’ll have to try that next time!

    1. Yes! I would add a bit more vinegar to the water and boil only for 1–2 minutes since you’re not trying to soften the whole head of cabbage, but you’ll still want to pick up the vinegar flavors.

  2. 4 stars
    I made this a couple of days ago, and while it was quite good, I have a couple of comments:

    It would have been nice to have a weight on the cabbage. The small head I used was way too much in proportion to the other ingredients. I ended up having to add more broth and spices.

    The recipe was tasty, but a bit bland. I used ground beef, and next time will add some kielbasa as well. I also will add a can of tomato paste, a little vinegar in the end stages of cooking (or maybe a little stout), and both red and black pepper. I may also add some carrot, to up the veg content.

    1. Thank you so much for your comments; it’s really appreciated! I am definitely working toward using weights as opposed to quantities as I develop my recipes so this is really helpful feedback. Thank you so much for making the recipe and leaving a comment 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

New recipes sent directly to your inbox.

Easy, elegant recipes to keep you cooking all week long.