Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

Did you eat too much cake? Yeah, me too. It’s okay though; it happens to the best of us. Let’s do something good for ourselves to make up for it. Cabbage soup anyone?

Full disclosure. I wasn’t amazed with this soup. It was a bit too sweet for me; me, the one who loves the savory/sweet combo unconditionally. Despite that, I feel like it just has too much potential NOT to post. A few tweaks here and there and I’m sure this one would be a winner.

A friend of mine brought this New York Times recipe to my attention. I am truly of eastern European blood (and, you know, about 35 other types of blood) and love pretty much everything involving cabbage. There have been a lot of cabbage soups in my time. This one caught my attention due to it’s unusual ingredients. With the addition of brown sugar, ketchup and raisins, it screamed savory-sweet; right up my alley.

As it turns out, there was too much sweet for me; next time, I would cut back, or maybe even omit, the sugar. I mean, the ketchup is sweet, the carrots are sweet, the raisins are sweet and even the tomato paste has sweet notes. That would have been enough, I think. I would also add a little more sour…more lemon juice or even vinegar. Don’t get me wrong, this soup is good; and there are a thousand different reasons you should make it. It’s savory and sour and feels good for you; it’s hearty and warming for winter; and it’s filling too (pst, and cheap). It freezes well. It’s REALLY tasty with sour cream, or if you’re being good, greek yogurt. So if this interesting soup appeals to you in any way, I say try it. Just be cautioned about the sweetness and taste as you go. Finish it with a big dollop of something creamy and tangy and you’ll probably love it.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

Modified from the NY Times, who adapted it from The National. Serves 8.

The recipe below is as written in the Times, with the substitution of chicken broth for water. However, as mentioned above, I would cut back (by at least half) on the brown sugar and possibly add more lemon juice. Taste as you go. I used Savoy cabbage because, for some bizarre reason, that’s all my store had. I know, weird. You should use the normal stuff; it’s cheaper and cooks faster.

2 T olive oil
2 T minced garlic
1 c finely chopped onion
6 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 c peeled, thinly sliced carrots
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes in purée
1 c tomato paste
1/2 c tomato ketchup
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1/2 c lemon juice
3 lbs cabbage, sliced into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons.
1/2 c golden raisins
Sour cream or Greek yogurt, optional (but not really)

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat; add garlic and cook until soft
  • Add the onion and sauté until transluscent
  • Add 3 c chicken broth, carrots, tomatoes and purée, tomato paste, ketchup, sugar and the bay leaf
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes
  • Crush the whole tomatoes and continue to simmer until carrots are tender (~10 more minutes)
  • Discard bay leaf and, using an immersion blender, blend until slightly chunky (Honestly, I don’t think this step is necessary, texture is good)
  • Add lemon juice and cabbage and remaining 3 cups chicken broth (there will be a LOT of cabbage, but it will cook down)
  • Again, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the cabbage is done however you like it (1 hour for al dente,2 hours for soft, or anywhere in between)
  • Add 3-6 cups water, until the soup reaches your desired consistency
  • Add the raisins 10 minutes before serving. Season with salt and pepper
  • Serve with sour cream


4 thoughts on “Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

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