This Cabbage Soup Recipe is nothing fancy, but the flavor transports me back to my childhood.
When I was a kid, my grandmother Ruth often made this Cabbage Soup. She called it “kapusta” which means cabbage in Polish, but in reality, this is very similar to “kapusniak” or cabbage soup.
My last name is French-Canadian, but being my mom’s side of the family is Polish and Ukrainian, we ate a lot of that food growing up. Pierogi, golumbki, and kapusniak were regular favorites from my grandma’s kitchen.
Whenever I eat this, I’m transported back to my grandma’s house on Bemis Ave where I’d watch her slowly and methodically cut the cabbage so thinly by hand. Once it was done simmering, I’d help myself to a few steaming-hot bowls. It’s definitely comfort food to me.
I’m sure there are a billion variations, and I make no claim this is 100% authentic. It’s the way she made it, and it’s the recipe I’d love to share with you.
This recipe is humble, nothing flashy, but sometimes those are the best kinds. Though it’s called a soup, you won’t end up with a ton of broth and just a few pieces of cabbage in it. In all reality, it’ll be cabbage with a bit of flavorful broth.
If you can’t find salt pork, you could substitute pancetta or bacon though I would halve the amounts. It’s there to give flavor, not as a protein component. I like to slice the salt pork into strips so I can get a little color on it.
When you’re looking for sauerkraut, check in the refrigerated section. I get the type that’s found in plastic pouches for this recipe instead of shelling out big bucks for the raw artisan kraut that you’d eat for probiotics. You’ll be bringing the soup to a boil, then lowering to a simmer which is enough to render most of those beneficial probiotics in the expensive stuff a moot point.
Be sure to rinse your sauerkraut in a colander to get rid of any excess salt, and rinse the salt pork as well. I highly recommend a no-salt chicken broth (homemade is even better) then adjusting the seasonings at the end.
Cabbage Soup Recipe
My grandmother Ruth often made this Cabbage Soup.It's nothing fancy, but the flavor transports me back to my childhood.
- 8 oz salt pork rinsed and patted dry, then sliced into wide strips about 1/4” thick
- 1 large head green cabbage cored and very thinly sliced
- 2 lb sauerkraut rinsed
- 4 cups low- or no-salt chicken broth
- Black pepper and sea salt to taste
- Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
- Add the salt pork strips to the pot and fry on each side until the meat begins to brown, a 4-5 minutes. Then flip and repeat for another 4-5 minutes.
- Add the cabbage, sauerkraut, and chicken broth.
- Stir until the ingredients are well-combined.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the cabbage is tender. You can fish out the salt pork and chop it up, putting it back into the soup, or if you’re not into that, you can discard it.
- Adjust the seasonings to your liking and serve hot.
Pin this cabbage soup recipe for later!
I love everything about this post. The photos of your grandmother are so awesome. And no lie: I was just thinking yesterday that I want to make some cabbage soup. It’s so ON. Thank you, Steph.
Aw thanks Mel <3 I decided to put some photos in because I was really thinking about her. Sometimes we're just on the same brainwave me and you. Big love!
I’m a little late to comment on the orig. posting of this recipe…just came across it. Anyway, here it goes. My mother makes our cabbage soup a little different. She learned from her mother in law (my babci) . The broth is mostly made of vinegar. Using cabbage & fried salt pork as well (or bacon) like you plus my mom adds boneless spare ribs. In addition peas and finally pour the soup over mashed potatoes before serving. With a side of the bread from a local polish bakery. Not as healthy but it’s what I know. 🙂
Just found this site love it I’m Polish, Lithuanian , and Ukrainian 😍👍
I will give it a try! Thank you ? Grandmas always make the best food
<3 They sure do!
My grandma was also Polish and we still eat pierogi, galumpki and polish sausage on Christmas eve. We use kapusta for the pierogi filling as well as a potato filling. This soup looks delicious! My Grandparents didn’t have much money and my grandma made the cabbage and noodle dish we called kluski and kapusta for many meals…will try this soup soon, hubby loves cabbage!
How wonderful! Grandma used to make kapusta pierogi, too. It always amazes me how folks ate so simply, yet they could coax so much wonderful flavor out of the most basic of ingredients.
Sauerkraut and bacon pierogi. No going back.
If you add some bacon, sausage, dried mushrooms and tomatos paste you will have bigos. Brings me back home to where I was raised in a small town in Poland. Love your posts and book Steph.
I need to try that someday, Tomek! Thank you so much <3
Wow this is awesome, I actually made cabbage soup yesterday, but I welcome your version and can’t wait to try this. Thanks for sharing your photos, really touched my heart.
Sounds like we were on the same wavelength 🙂 Thank you for being so kind <3
Dear Steph…thank you so much for what you do! Your a blessing to others! I’ve had some major health issues in the past years starting about 2 1/2 years ago, relating to my gallbladder mostly. Through some research and old fashioned intuition I realized I was either a celiac or a gluten intolerant person. So with the diet change and some vitamin and herb therapy, no harsh cleanses, I was able to completely heal from this horribly painful condition and keep my organ! I thank you for all your dietary advice and the funny thing I wanted to tell you is this…of my six children, my youngest naturally eats the Paleo way! I don’t force my diet on anyone in my family but if there is something Paleo/gluten-free that I make that they like we’ll all the better! I’m learning more and more when I have the time…looking forward to more recipes! Thanks a million
Huge kudos to you for taking the time to really listen to your body and seek out answers. You’re a true hero for advocating for your own health, and you’re setting a great example for your family.
xoxo you’re very welcome!
What a sweet post! I can’t wait to try this soup…where can I find salt pork? Thank you!
You can find it in the meat section of the market 🙂
Wondering if you by any chance have nutritional info on this recipe?? It sounds like an awesome recipe to try and my boyfriend is a huge fan of sauerkraut but we’re dieting and heavily watching calories. Thank you so much!!! I can’t wait to try it.
Unfortunately I don’t provide nutritional information for my recipes. You can enter the information into an app like MyFitnessPal to get a rough idea.
I love this post. It takes me back to the wonderful food my Polish grandmother made. She made a version of this cabbage soup but used ham. It was a great way to use up all the leftover ham after a big holiday meal. I love cabbage so I’ll try this.
That’s such a great idea. I love that she used ham…folks sure were thrifty in those times. It’s always great to see the variations that each family has <3
I am of Czech descent and this is the way I make my sauerkraut. I put in about a teaspoon or two of caraway seeds.
I love caraway seeds!
This looks delicious. Can’t wait to make it. Thank you.
Yay! So glad to hear that, Samantha 🙂
I never realized that you were half Polish too! Thanks for sharing this recipe! My Baci Mary also seemed to have a pot of this in her refrigerator. She did add pork chops sometimes, they just fell apart they simmered so long. Good comfort food!
Hi Tricia…yes! Pretty sure my last name fools everyone 🙂 I love how grannies and babcis always cooked the simple things. Pork chops sound like the perfect addition <3
We are forecast to have a winter storm this weekend and this recipe reminded me so much of the winter dinners when I was little. I’d forgotten how to make something so simple. I just sent my husband out for the cabbage and the sauerkraut. We have kielbasa in the freezer (I always buy lbs of it at Christmas). YUM!
That’s perfect! Sometimes the simplest things are the best 🙂
What a great story for a great recipe. Thank you so much for sharing this! I cannot wait to try it. Do you know exactly where one would be able to locate salt pork?
Hi Dade…usually in the meat section near the bacon 🙂
I grew up eating kapusta. Wish I had paid attention. This looks pretty close. We either used salt pork, ham, or kielbasa in it growing up
Yum! This recipe is so simple. I hope you like it.
My mother used to thicken the broth with some flour after she fried the salt pork..just before putting it in the boiled cabbage pot…yummy