The Best Cabbage Soup recipe is packed with unexpected flavors (hello, pickle juice!) and will keep you coming back for bowl after bowl. This healthy soup recipe is the ultimate cozy winter dinner idea.

Cabbage soup in a white bowl with a silver spoon next to it.

My first long-term boyfriend was a Ukrainian I met in college. I took classes in Russian, visited his family in Ukraine, and learned some of his best secrets in the kitchen.

While the relationship eventually ended, his recipe for The Best Cabbage Soup lives on.

Yes, I know some of the ingredients like pickle juice sound odd, but trust me; this easy soup recipe is mind-blowingly good.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. The Best Cabbage Soup Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for cabbage soup.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Beef broth: Or opt for vegetable broth to make The Best Cabbage Soup a fully vegan recipe.
  • Green apple: A crunchy variety like Granny Smith or Crispin will hold up nicely as this soup simmers.
  • Pickle juice: The acidity this lends is what makes this soup recipe so addictive and well-balanced. A splash of fresh lemon juice can also work in a pinch.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add turnip, carrot, onion, and celery, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
Vegetables cooking in a pan for cabbage soup.
  1. Add broth, cabbage, apple, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon dill. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Vegetables cooking in a pan for cabbage soup.
  1. Remove bay leaves and stir in pickle or lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I like 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.) Garnish with sour cream and more fresh dill if desired.
Cabbage soup in a white bowl with a silver spoon next to it.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes four main dish-sized servings of vegetable soup. Pair it with a side salad and crusty bread to make The Best Cabbage Soup a full, hearty meal.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: This soup can be made up to 3 days in advance. Or, get a jump-start on prep by peeling and chopping all the vegetables and store covered in the refrigerator.
  • Freezer: Transfer to freezer-safe containers (I love glass mason jars), leaving 1/2-inch headspace, and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Make it meaty: Since this recipe is originally from the Ukraine, it would be completely appropriate to make cabbage soup with kielbasa or Polish sausage. Simply brown the sausages in advance, then add the links to the soup to simmer with the vegetables. Remove the whole sausages just before serving to slice and add back into the soup. Other tasty protein options: browned ground beef (for a cabbage roll-inspired rendition), cooked bacon, ham hock or ham bone, or shredded leftover or rotisserie chicken.

Recipe FAQs

What is cabbage soup good for?

Cabbage soup is an easy, delicious way to eat more vegetables. A bowl of hot hearty cabbage soup is perfectly contrasted by garnishes of cold sour cream and sour pickle juice. It’s perfection.

How to Cut Cabbage

An easy how-to for an often overlooked vegetable; here’s how to cut cabbage and add delightful crunch and loads of nutrition to all your favorite recipes.

3 minutes
View Recipe

Best soup-pairing breads

Cabbage Soup in two white bowls on a wooden cutting board.

The Best Cabbage Soup

The Best Cabbage Soup recipe is packed with unexpected flavors (hello, pickle juice!) and will keep you coming back for bowl after bowl. This healthy soup recipe is the ultimate cozy winter dinner idea.
5 from 25 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 4 servings
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Russian
Calories 198

Ingredients 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small turnip peeled and julienned
  • 2 carrots peeled and julienned
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2 celery ribs sliced
  • 4 cups beef broth or vegetable broth (see note 1)
  • 1 pound green cabbage shredded
  • 1 green apple peeled, cored, and diced (see note 2)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle juice or lemon juice (see note 3)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sour cream for serving, optional

Instructions 

  • In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add turnip, carrot, onion, and celery, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
  • Add broth, cabbage, apple, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon dill. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaves and stir in pickle or lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I like 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.) Garnish with sour cream and more fresh dill if desired.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Beef broth: Or opt for vegetable broth to make The Best Cabbage Soup a fully vegan recipe.
  2. Green apple: A crunchy variety like Granny Smith or Crispin will hold up nicely as this soup simmers.
  3. Pickle juice: The acidity this lends is what makes this soup recipe so addictive and well-balanced. A splash of fresh lemon juice can also work in a pinch.
  4. Yield: This recipe makes four main dish-sized servings of vegetable soup. Pair it with a side salad and crusty bread to make The Best Cabbage Soup a full, hearty meal.
  5. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 198kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 5gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 1028mgPotassium: 619mgFiber: 6gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 5321IUVitamin C: 54mgCalcium: 96mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

    1. Hi Patricia, the apple is great for adding some crunchy texture to the soup but you can leave it out if you want! – Meggan

  1. This is a great soup and comes together in an hour with only minimal hands-on work. The vegetables could be chopped ahead of putting together.
    I used six cups of vegetable broth instead of four.
    Delicious and will make again and again.
    This would also be great with German sausage.5 stars

  2. I was doubling my recipe for cabbage soup, and ran out of vegetable broth. Can I add beef or chicken broth, and not ruin it?

  3. Absolutely love this recipe! I’m a huge fan of cabbage and am always looking for more ways to prepare it, but I can’t eat tomatoes, and most cabbage soup recipes use a tomato-based broth. I’m happy to report that this one doesn’t miss the tomatoes; it was great! I needed to bulk up the calories, so I added a diced russet potato and 1/2 cup of brown lentils + extra broth to cook the lentils through. (Note for fellow GERD sufferers: if you can’t tolerate onions, you can leave them out and use 1/2 tsp of onion powder to maintain the taste; I tried it both ways and both were delicious).5 stars

    1. Hi Tiffany, lentils and potato sound like fantastic additions! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Take care! – Meggan

  4. I came across your recipe after getting lots of cabbage in my CSA box. The was delicious and so easy! I used veg broth and doubled the pickle juice, used plain greek yogurt as I didn’t have sour cream! I’ve never had cabbage soup but wanted something other than slaw and am glad I found this recipe!

  5. I laughed while making this seeing as though it said “the best Cabbage soup” and I’ve never had any desire to make cabbage soup and wouldn’t be able to compare past cabbage soup recipes… Some friends stopped over and I felt a little embarrassed to offer cabbage soup but ladled them both up a bowl. And held my breath. Success! I was pleasantly surprised! I just ate a bowl for breakfast. Good thing I doubled it. I skepticly trusted your directions (no dill in the house, used lennon and really? Sliced onions and julienned turnips??) Thank you! What a funny story I’ll have with cabbage soup. But now I know we’re fans and will make this often.5 stars

    1. Hi Rebecca! I’m so happy to hear this, what a great story :) Thank you for taking the time to share it with me – Meggan

  6. I have made this soup several times, both exactly as written as well as with substitutions and additions. It has always always always been excellent! Sometimes I use parsip instead of turnip,often I add andouille sausage sliced up. I tend to add more pickle juice than in the recipe (personal taste rules!) but this will always be in my recipe rotation. Thank you so much for the recipe. As a side note, I am also from Wisconsin-and your recipes are some of my favorites for when I want familiar comfort foods made better.5 stars

    1. Hi Paige, my personal opinion is no, it won’t taste as good. Vegetable broth tends to be a little sweeter, at least the ones I’ve had, and I just don’t like it as much (I have made this with vegetable broth so I’m not just guessing). I definitely prefer it with beef. HOWEVER, if you are vegetarian, vegan, focusing on plants, avoiding animal products, you will probably like it just fine. It’s certainly not bad, and you can always add more salt or pickle juice or whatever you want, to counter the sweetness of vegetable broth (if you even agree with my assessment, maybe I’m just crazy). But that’s what I think. If you have any other questions, please let me know! Thank you! -Meggan