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Recipe for sweet and sour beef cabbage soup

Sweet and sour beef cabbage soup (The Perfect Pantry).

After a day cooking stuffed cabbage rolls, I had everything left over: cooked rice, tomato juice, mirepoix vegetables (carrots, onions and celery), and some ground beef. Immediately I reached for the soup pot and began tossing in the odds and ends. With a tweak in proportions, and the addition of lemon and brown sugar, the stuffed cabbage ingredients rematerialized as a hearty sweet and sour beef cabbage soup. My husband Ted instantly proclaimed it "Blogworthy!", which is how we categorize recipes good enough to share with you. This is a forgiving soup; if you don't have tomato juice, use beef broth. If you're out of green cabbage, try red, or Savoy, or bok choy. Swap in ground turkey or chicken for the beef, or chop up some leftover rotisserie chicken. Add barley instead of rice. The soup freezes well, which makes it perfect for Soup Swap.

Sweet and sour beef cabbage soup.

Sweet and sour beef cabbage soup

From the pantry, you'll need: ground beef, chopped canned tomatoes, long-grain white rice, lemon, brown sugar, onion, olive oil, parsley.

Serves 8 or more.


2 tsp olive oil
1-1/4 lb extra-lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2-3 cups chopped cabbage
2 cups tomato juice or V-8 + 2 cups water
2 cups canned chopped tomato
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh dill weed
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup cooked long-grain white rice*
1/4 cup brown sugar, or more to taste
Juice of 2 lemons
Kosher salt (at least 1 tsp to start, then adjust to taste)
Fresh black pepper, to taste


In a 6- or 8-quart soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the beef, and sauté, breaking up the pieces, until the meat is browned.

Stir in the onion, carrot, celery and cabbage. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are wilted and the onion is translucent. Pour in the tomato juice, water and chopped tomatoes. Add the dill and parsley. Stir in the rice.*

Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, then taste. Adjust the sweet and sour balance to your preference, with more sugar and lemon juice, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve hot. Or, cool completely, and freeze in airtight containers.

*NOTE: You can use uncooked rice if you don't have leftover cooked rice. Increase the cooking time to 20 minutes after the rice is added. You might want to add more tomato juice or water if the soup becomes too thick as the rice cooks.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More ways to enjoy cabbage, cooked or raw:
Asian turkey and cabbage empanadas with spicy dipping sauce
Polish stuffed cabbage rolls
Teriyaki turkey meatballs with cabbage and ramen noodles
Vegan Napa cabbage soba with spicy peanut sauce
Gingered Napa cabbage salad

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Red and green cabbage salad with lemon mustard seed dressing, from Girl Cooks World
Sweet and sour red cabbage, from Simply Recipes
Moroccan cabbage slaw with carrots, cumin, lemon, and mint, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Vegetarian borscht with beets and red cabbage, from Well Fed, Flat Broke
Cabbage apple slaw with maple pecans, from Shutterbean

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Love how you used all the little extras from your cabbage rolls to make this hearty soup Lydia - that's what I love about making soup, anything goes!

I love all these flavors!

I love using up odds and ends!!

I had a terrific ground beef and sauerkraut . . . soupish type thing the other week at work, with a tomato-based liquid tying the whole dish together. My kids are not sauerkraut fans, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to serve it to them and risk getting shot down--but they do like cabbage, beef, and tomatoes so they'd like this.

Jeanette, I'm with you on that! And this soup really plays off the wonderful flavors of the cabbage rolls. I feel very frugal when I can turn my leftover bits into a whole new soup.

Kalyn, me, too!

Carol, same here.

Kirsten, this one doesn't have that sour taste, so I hope the kids go for it.

Oh, yum! Lydia, these stuffed-cabbagey recipes are making me so happy!

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