Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup Recipe

Cabbage roll soup in a bowl garnished with parsley and a little yogurt.

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This cabbage roll soup is the easy version of cabbage rolls. Cabbage, ground beef, tomato sauce and rice come together and make this amazing hearty and filling soup.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 250 g/0.5 lbs ground beef (90% lean)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup pureed tomato 
  • 4 cups white cabbage, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 4 cups hot water 
  • ½ cup rice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped


  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add in onions and cook until translucent.
  3. Add in ground beef. Cook it by pressing on the large blocks of meat with a spatula until no blocks are left. Continue cooking it covered for 5 minutes.  
  4. Add in garlic, tomato paste and pureed tomato. Keep cooking it covered for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add in chopped cabbage. Sprinkle spices over it. 
  6. Pour hot water over them, add in rice and give it a good stir.
  7. Finally add in lemon juice and parsley. Bring it to a boil. 
  8. Reduce the heat to medium low and let it simmer (with the lid ajar) for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  9. Serve with yogurt and more parsley on the top.


  • Make sure there is no large block of ground beef when cooking.
  • If the ground beef doesn’t release its juice easily, add a splash of water and continue cooking.

  • To make the soup even easier, use store-bought tomato sauce.

  • We use uncooked rice, but you can use cooked rice.

  • We use plain water, but you can use chicken stock or beef stock.

  • We don’t use any sweetener in the soup as we are more on the side of tangy flavor. But you can add a tablespoon white or brown sugar, which is traditional when making cabbage roll soup.

  • Make sure you leave the lid ajar when it is simmering. Otherwise the soup might overflow.

  • To store: After it has completely cooled, put the soup in an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3 days.

  • To freeze: Place the soup in an airtight container after it completely cools down. For extra protection, wrap the entire container in plastic wrap to prevent it from leaking. Place a label on the foil to write the date and describe what is inside. Keep it in the freezer for about 3 months.

  • To Reheat: Simply place it in the fridge to defrost overnight and then reheat in a dutch oven or another pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. 

  • This soup thickens as it sits, so when reheating you might need to add ½ or 1 cup water or chicken or beef stock.