Hold it right there! Don’t even think about clicking away! This ground beef and cabbage soup is heartwarming and supremely nourishing. Still not sold? It takes less than 40 minutes to prepare and only one pot to wash up. You need more?! It’s a super cheap recipe and a thrifty use of what’s already in your fridge. Gotcha!
So it has a bit of a bad rep thanks to Charlie Bucket’s family and 80s diet fame, but if you ask me, cabbage is a seriously underrated vegetable.
I grew up eating cabbage regularly and some of my favourite childhood soups featured cabbage in them. Have you heard of Borsht? Yes, it’s red and has beets in it but cabbage is also a vital ingredient.
Another famous soup I grew up eating is called Shchi and is made of beef and cabbage. Just like this one but very different in flavour.
Cabbage is one of the cheapest vegetables at the market, low in calories and full of vitamins and fibre. What’s not to like? Oh, so you don’t like the taste? That’s where this recipe for the most flavoursome ground beef and vegetable soup comes in.
Soup flavour variations
The beauty of this beef vegetable soup is that it can be bent to every taste and budget. As well as choosing the ground meat that suits your family or diet best, and the cabbage of course, spices can be played with to build flavour and intensity.
Right now I’m a big fan of ras el hanout. Traditionally used in Moroccan tagines, it’s woody and warm. These notes come from nutmeg, clove and cinnamon, and they bring life and dimension to the cabbage and beef.
If you prefer something simpler but smoky; Spanish paprika. And feel free to add chilli flakes or powder if you want more of a heat blast.
Recipe tips and notes
- A ten-minute sauté of the base vegetables will enhance your soup. It’s a few minutes extra cooking time, but an investment in flavour.
- Let’s talk cabbage. There are a lot out there, but you can’t really go wrong. I love a sweetheart cabbage as it adds a sweet contrast to the sour tomato in this recipe. Savoy has a more delicate flavour and makes for a visual treat. The bold purple of a red cabbage also lends a wow-factor, and tends to hold its bite.
- A thick soup is an absolute comfort and so satisfying, so I’ve used arborio rice in my recipe. The rice starch will naturally thicken the broth and bring it to an almost stew-like level. Any rice will do the same, so just use what you have to hand to save a trip out.
- There are so many ways to tweak this recipe to suit your own palate. Even down to the meat. I use lean ground beef for an intense meaty depth, but you could use ground turkey to lower the fat content, or pork for a slightly sweeter meat. Or even sausage meat!
- I’m a firm believer in fresh herbs! They liven up any meaty soup with a little colour and zing. Choose a favourite, or just use up what’s wilting in the salad drawer.
Storage and leftovers
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for 2-3 days. Not only is it delicious the first time around, it will improve with an overnight stay in the fridge thanks to all those deep flavours developing.
This is a batch-cook’s dream! Double up and have this beef cabbage soup today and keep one in the freezer.
Be sure to cool your soup completely before freezing and keep in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month (due to the cooked rice). Thaw for 24 hours in the fridge before heating thoroughly.
More Loaded with Vegetables Soup Recipes:
Beef Cabbage Soup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 carrots sliced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lbs lean ground beef
- 2 tbsp ras el hanout (Moroccan spice mix) or any other mix of your choice
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp hot smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 500ml/2 cups tomato passata or crushed tomatoes
- 1.5 litre/6 cups beef or chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 150g/3/4 cup uncooked rice I used arborio for a thicker soup
- 350g/4 cups sliced cabbage
- 2-3 leaves fresh mint optional
- 1 tsp sumac optional
- Heat the olive oil in a soup pot, then add the chopped onion, carrots and celery, sauté over low heat for 10 minutes, then add the minced garlic and cook for 20-30 seconds longer while stirring.
- Turn the heat to medium and add the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon or a spatula, season the mix with raw el hangout spice mix, smoked paprika, black pepper and salt, cook until no longer pink inside.
- Pour in the tomato passata or crushed tomatoes and beef stock, stir to combine, then add the bay leaves, rice, sliced cabbage and bring to a simmer, simmer for 15 minutes until the rice is done.
- Sprinkle with sliced mint and sumac for garnish.