This One-Pot Unstuffed Cabbage Soup is flavorful, simple to make, packed with veggies and protein from ground beef, and makes for a hearty dinner. Make it on the stovetop or cook it up in your slow cooker or Instant Pot. It is a delicious and comforting dinner recipe!

A ladle scooping a portion of unstuffed cabbage soup out of the pot.

We are deep into soup season, TNNers. Which I love and adore. Because not only are soups delicious, comforting, and often easy to make….but veggie-loaded soup recipes are a wonderful way to get vegetables onto the table in an extra delicious way.

When I say I am head-over-heels in love with this Unstuffed Cabbage Soup, I mean it. I don’t see myself as a cabbage lover, but I 100% practice what I preach when it comes to trying veggies in lots of different ways in a quest to find the way I DO enjoy them. And so, I’ve been working on exploring cabbage recipes like Skillet Sausage, Cabbage & Potatoes and Tex-Mex Roasted Cabbage Steaks.

Not only do I love how flavorful, hearty, and easy this One-Pot Unstuffed Cabbage Soup is, but I nearly fell out of my chair when I watched my cabbage-iffy tween daughter happily eat up her bowl at dinner. I think the magic of this soup is not only how delicious it is, but how small the veggies are cut, helping to get all sorts of different textures in one bite. Made with cabbage (of course), this soup also has carrots, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Made extra hearty and flavorful from cooked ground beef, we’ve added some rice to the mix to make this one-pot soup a complete meal. Gluten free for those who need it, this comforting soup makes about 6 servings and cooks up in one pot in about 30 minutes.

Ingredients for unstuffed cabbage soup  in bowls on a white marble table.
Ingredients: Onions, tomato paste, salt & pepper, carrots, garlic, olive oil, cabbage, rice, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, ground beef, and broth.

How to select a cabbage

I see fresh cabbages in the store pretty much all year long, so this cabbage soup is great to enjoy during any season. However, when selecting a cabbage at the store or market, be sure to look for:

  • a cabbage that is firm. A soft cabbage means that it is old and on its way to the compost pile.
  • heads of cabbage with crisp leaves. Avoid heads that have yellowing or wilted looking leaves.
  • cabbage that is free of cracks or bruises. These will result in a cabbage rotting faster.

How to core and cut your cabbage

Cabbages have a hard core in their center that is tough and not super fun to eat. Luckily, it is very easy to remove the core of a cabbage to then make chopping the tender leaves into bite size pieces easy. Here’s how:

Have leftover cabbage? Check out my tips & tricks for storing cabbage so it stays crisp and fresh for your next veggie-loaded recipe!

Suggested Adaptations

  • Use a different meat. Ground beef gives this recipe that traditional stuffed cabbage taste. However, a dark meat ground turkey could also work as a substitute.
  • To make this unstuffed cabbage soup vegetarian, either use a plant-based meat replacement like Beyond Beef or add 2 cups cooked lentils when you add the brown sugar. Also, be sure to use vegetable broth and a vegan Worcestershire to make this recipe plant-based.
  • Use a different grain. Brown rice will take much longer to cook, so I don’t recommend adding it uncooked. Instead, add cooked brown rice, cooked farro, or even cooked orzo at the end of the cooking process.
  • Omit the brown sugar. Stuffed cabbage is traditionally served with a sweet tomato sauce, so that’s why I have a little brown sugar in this recipe. However, if you prefer to leave it out, the soup will still taste great.
  • To make this soup in the Instant Pot, use the sauté function for Steps 1 to 4. Cancel, then secure the lid and set to Manual High Pressure for 10 minutes. Release pressure then continue with Steps 6 and 7.
  • To make this soup in the Slow Cooker, cook the onion and ground beef in a sauté pan on the stove (Steps 1 to 3). Add that to your crockpot then add in the rest of the ingredients. Set the cooker to low for 6 to 7 hours or high for 4 hours.

How to make this soup: A visual step-by-step guide

If you are a visual person, here is a picture guide for how the recipe should look at each step. Be sure to grab the exact measurements for the ingredients by scrolling down to the recipe card below.

Can this soup be made ahead of time?

Yes, I love this soup as a quick leftover for lunch and it lasts in the fridge beautifully for about 3 days. However, rice tends to absorb liquid as it sits in the soup and won’t be as firm as freshly cooked. And since it will soak up the broth after cooking, you might find your reheated Unstuffed Cabbage Soup thicker than it was originally. If you make your soup ahead of time, you might need to add some water to thin it out.

Can I freeze this soup?

Sure! I find this soup freezes beautifully after cooking and lasts for about 2 months.

A serving of unstuffed cabbage soup in a white bowl on a white plate with a spoon. The pot with the rest of the soup is next to the bowl and there is a white napkin next to the bowl.

Wondering how to store your carrots so they stay fresh as long as possible? Check out my post on How to Keep Cut Carrots Fresh and get the most out of your produce buck!

Other hearty veggie-loaded soup recipes to add to your dinner rotations

Did you try this cabbage soup and now you’re hungry for more? 

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A spoon scooping up a bite of unstuffed cabbage soup from the bowl below.
One-Pot Unstuffed Cabbage Soup ready
4.98 from 89 votes

One-Pot Unstuffed Cabbage Soup (with ground beef)

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cuisine: American
Course: Main Course, Soup
This One-Pot Unstuffed Cabbage Soup is flavorful, simple to make, packed with veggies and protein from ground beef, and makes for a hearty dinner. Make it on the stovetop or cook it up in your slow cooker or Instant Pot. It is a delicious and comforting dinner recipe!

Ingredients
 

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth*
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 14 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 14 ounces green cabbage, cored & cut into bite-sized pieces, about 1 small head of cabbage
  • ½ cup long grain white rice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, optional
  • Chopped fresh parsley, optional garnish

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef and cook, stirring frequently, to break the meat up into crumbles. About 5-7 minutes.
    Ground beef and cooked onions in a stockpot with a wooden spoon.
  • Once the meat is cooked, add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste, salt, and pepper.
    Cooked ground beef and onions in a pot with salt, pepper, and tomatoes paste on top, waiting to be stirred in with a wooden spoon.
  • Slowly add the broth, scrapping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and rice.
    Uncooked cabbage, rice, tomatoes and carrots in a pot with soup, waiting to be stirred in with a wooden spoon.
  • Bring the pot up to a boil then cover and lower the heat to medium-low to maintain a light simmer. Cook until the rice is cooked through, and the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and sugar, if using. If a lot of the liquid has evaporated during cooking and the soup is too thick for your liking, stir in a cup of water to thin it out. Carefully taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.
    Cooked unstuffed cabbage soup in a pot with a wooden spoon.
  • Ladle soup into bowls then top with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

Notes

*all broths have different flavor profiles and can greatly impact the flavor of your soup. Be sure to adjust the salt based on the kind of broth you are using and taste your soup at the end to adjust seasonings to fit your personal tastes.
Suggested Adaptation 
    • Use a different meat. Ground beef gives this recipe that traditional stuffed cabbage taste. However, a dark meat ground turkey could also work as a substitute.
    • To make this unstuffed cabbage soup vegetarian, either use a plant-based meat replacement like Beyond Beef or add 2 cups cooked lentils when you add the brown sugar. Also, be sure to use vegetable broth and a vegan Worcestershire to make this recipe plant-based.
    • Use a different grain. Brown rice will take much longer to cook, so I don’t recommend adding it uncooked. Instead, add cooked brown rice, cooked farro, or even cooked orzo at the end of the cooking process.
    • Omit the brown sugar. Stuffed cabbage is traditionally served with a sweet tomato sauce, so that’s why I have a little brown sugar in this recipe. However, if you prefer to leave it out, the soup will still taste great.
    • To make this soup in the Instant Pot, use the sauté function for Steps 1 to 4. Cancel, then secure the lid and set to Manual High Pressure for 10 minutes. Release pressure then continue with Steps 6 and 7.
    • To make this soup in the Slow Cooker, cook the onion and ground beef in a sauté pan on the stove (Steps 1 to 3). Add that to your crockpot then add in the rest of the ingredients. Set the cooker to low for 6 to 7 hours or high for 4 hours.
Calories: 288kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 754mg, Potassium: 1018mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 4343IU, Vitamin C: 41mg, Calcium: 109mg, Iron: 4mg