Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup
This hearty Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup recipe takes everything you love about cabbage rolls and “unstuffs” them into an easy soup! Featuring a rich tomato-based broth, ground pork and beef, and tender cabbage, plus a handful of chewy wild rice, this is a super tasty and satisfying one-bowl meal.
Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup Recipe
I crave a local Russian restaurant‘s cabbage rolls so often that I created this Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup recipe – and it’s absolutely fantastic!! This easy soup recipe features a rich tomato-infused beef broth plus traditional cabbage roll ingredients. There’s flavorful ground beef and pork, cabbage, carrot, onion, and garlic. And then unexpectedly, some nutty wild rice. I LOVE how this recipe ingredient pays homage to our state; Minnesota has more acres of natural wild rice than any other state in the country!
Why You’ll Love This Unstuffed Cabbage Soup Recipe
When there’s a chill in the air, you can bet that comforting soup recipes are happening in our kitchen – my beef barley stew and famous lasagna soup are reader favorites. Here’s why you’ll love this unstuffed cabbage soup:
- A hearty one-bowl meal. There’s a ton of good stuff going on here, including the protein of beef, pork, and wild rice, plus vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and tomato.
- Easier than making cabbage rolls. This recipe “unstuffs” the traditional cabbage roll meal, offering the same crave-worthy flavors and textures in an easy-to-make soup.
- Makes a large quantity. This soup can feed a crowd, or you can save it for leftovers. You can also double the recipe and save some for another time. Unstuffed cabbage roll soup freezes beautifully as well.
What You’ll Need
Here’s the ingredients you’ll need to make this unstuffed cabbage roll soup recipe.
Scroll down to the end of this post for the printable recipe card with the exact ingredient amounts.
For the Soup
- Wild rice – Choose whole, uncracked wild rice for the best texture. Whole wild rice also gives a nicer appearance, if that’s important to you.
- Ground pork – A combination of pork and beef adds extra flavor and texture.
- Ground beef – The pork and beef play so well together in this soup, each adding their own unique, rich flavor.
- Yellow onion – I add onion to nearly every soup recipe – it adds delicious earthy, savory flavor.
- Garlic – This is another favorite ingredient for most of my soup recipes. It adds so much flavor!
- Cabbage – Green cabbage is the star of this soup, what you’d traditionally find in a cabbage rolls recipe.
- Carrots – Carrots add a pop of fresh color and flavor.
- Beef broth – I use low-sodium beef broth to give an even richer, more meaty flavor to the soup.
- Tomato sauce – Similar to how traditional cabbage rolls are served, this soup incorporates tomato sauce into the broth.
- Tomato paste – This adds a more concentrated tomato flavor to the soup’s broth.
- Brown sugar – A little bit of brown sugar is lovely with the tomato flavor.
- Dried herbs: A combination of bay leaves, basil, oregano, marjoram. You could also just use bay leaves and your favorite Italian Seasoning.
- Salt & pepper
For the Carrot Garnish
- Butter – This adds a touch of rich flavor and texture.
- Carrots – I replicated this carrot garnish from the original cabbage rolls that inspired this soup recipe!
- Sour cream – This garnish is offered at the table, for individuals to add as they like. It adds a touch of richness that’s so lovely when you stir it into your bowl of soup!
- Fresh dill – I adore this final bit of garnish. If you’re not a dill fan, you can substitute chopped fresh parsley or chives.
How to Make Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup
Follow along with the photos and method below to guide you through making this unstuffed cabbage roll soup recipe:
- Cook the wild rice: Because wild rice cooks slowly, start this right away. Cook the wild rice in a saucepan on the stovetop, according to the package directions, until it plumps up and splits open. Drain any excess water and set aside.
- Cook the pork, beef, onion, and garlic. Meanwhile, cook the ground pork and beef in a large soup pot over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the onion and continue to cook until pork and beef are cooked through. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add remaining soup ingredients. Stir in the cabbage, carrot, beef broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, bay leaves, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and marjoram.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer. Turn the heat up just a bit and bring the pot to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
- Add the wild rice. Stir in the cooked wild rice and simmer for 5 more minutes, then turn off the heat.
- Make the garnish. While the soup is simmering, set a small saucepan over medium heat and add the water, butter, and salt. Once hot, add the shredded carrots. Cook just until carrots are tender-crisp, 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- To serve: Ladle hot soup into individual bowls. Then add carrot garnish to the top of the soup, followed by a dollop of sour cream and a bit of fresh dill.
Tips for Success + Variations
Here are a few tips to help you make this soup perfectly every time, plus some variations:
- Start cooking the wild rice right away. Depending on the size of your wild rice and the heat used, it can take up to an hour to properly cook wild rice. So be sure to get it cooking right away.
- Keep some extra broth handy. If you have leftovers, you may notice that the soup consistency thickens as the ingredients absorb the broth. So I like to keep some extra beef broth on hand so that I can easily thin out the soup broth if needed. You can always add a little water instead.
- Add more vegetables. You could add frozen peas or a cup or 2 of baby spinach leaves to the soup when you add the wild rice.
- Try different meat. If you wish, you can substitute the ground pork and/or beef with ground turkey or chicken. The soup will still be hearty, but with a more subdued flavor.
- Make it vegetarian. For a vegetarian version of unstuffed cabbage roll soup, substitute a plant-based ground meat option for both the ground pork and beef. Swap the beef broth for vegetable broth. Just know that the soup will not have the same rich flavor as the original recipe.
- Use a different type of rice. Go the more traditional cabbage roll route and use white rice in place of wild rice. This will also cut your prep time down a bit because white rice doesn’t take quite as long to cook as wild rice.
This hearty soup is sure to satisfy and it doesn’t need much more than perhaps some bread and a salad. Here are some serving suggestions:
- Popovers. My popovers or sourdough popovers recipes would be lovely with bowls of unstuffed cabbage soup.
- Cornbread. For a rustic accompaniment to unstuffed cabbage roll soup, honey-sweetened cornbread muffins would be great.
- Salad. I like to offer a fresh salad with hearty soups. Try my arugula beet salad or fresh and crunchy winter apple salad recipes.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Store any leftover cabbage roll soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To reheat, place the soup in a pot on the stove over medium-low heat and warm it until heated through. Or, place the soup in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it in the microwave in 1-minute increments until it’s hot. You may need to add a little more broth or water to thin the soup when you reheat it.
Can I Freeze Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup?
Yes, this soup freezes well.
Transfer the cooled unstuffed cabbage roll safe to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. You can also portion out individual servings of soup into freezer-safe bags or airtight containers and store them in the freezer. Thaw the soup in the fridge before reheating it.
For the soup
- ½ cup uncooked whole (not cracked) wild rice
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 5 cups chopped (1" pieces) green cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 6 cups tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Morton kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried marjorum
For the carrot garnish
- ½ cup water
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon Morton kosher salt
- 2 cups shredded carrot
- Sour cream
- Chopped fresh dill (substitute chopped fresh parsley or chives if desired)
For the soup:
- First, cook the wild rice according to package directions, until it curls up and splits open. Wild rice takes quite awhile to cook properly (up to 1 hour, depending on the wild rice size and heat), so get this started right away. When it's done cooking, drain any excess water and set aside.
- Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add ground pork and beef, and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring a couple times. Add the onion and cook until pork and beef are cooked through. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add the cabbage, carrot, beef broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, bay leaves, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and marjorum. Stir well to incorporate.
- Turn the heat up just a bit and bring the pot to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a very gentle simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the cooked and drained wild rice. Simmer for 5 more minutes, then turn off heat.
For the carrot garnish:
- While the soup is simmering, set a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the water, butter, and salt. Once the mixture is hot, add the shredded carrots. Cook just until carrots are tender-crisp, 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Ladle hot soup into individual bowls. Using a slotted spoon, add carrot garnish to the top of the soup. Add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh dill.
Recipe inspired by the "Grandma's Golubsty" cabbage rolls that I love to order at Moscow on the Hill.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 440Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 1446mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 6gSugar: 16gProtein: 37g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.