This cabbage roll soup has all the same flavors as classic baked cabbage rolls, but with way less work! This unstuffed cabbage soup is hearty, filling and the perfect choice for an easy dinner option.

If you love cabbage rolls, but don’t love all the work involved, this quick cooking cabbage soup is for you!

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A pot full of cabbage roll soup garnished with parsley.

Baked cabbage rolls are one of those nostalgic dishes that my grandma used to make. While I love the flavors, I don’t love all the work involved. Between boiling the cabbage, making the filling, wrapping everything up and then the bake time, it can turn into an all day affair! This cabbage roll soup has all the same flavors as the classic dish, but with a fraction of the prep time.

How to make cabbage roll soup

To make your unstuffed cabbage soup, you’ll need to start with some ground beef. I use 90% lean beef, it’s got great flavor but doesn’t make the soup overly greased. The beef is browned along with some onion before the rest of the ingredients get added to the pot.

Ground beef is the basis for cabbage roll soup.

After your beef is ready to go, everything else goes into the pot, including rice, carrots, tomato, spices and of course, cabbage. Bring the whole thing to a simmer and in about 25 minutes dinner is done!

Ingredients for cabbage roll soup including beef, cabbage, vegetables and spices, all in a soup pot.

What you end up with is a rich and hearty soup that has complex flavors. I know in many cases simmering a soup for longer helps to develop the flavors, but in this case you don’t want to over-cook the soup or else the rice will get mushy.

A bowl of unstuffed cabbage soup with bread and parsley.

There is so much going on here, between the meat, veggies and rice, that it’s really a complete meal in one pot. I do often serve this cabbage roll soup with a side of crusty bread or a green salad, just to round out the meal. Even my kids love this one, they didn’t even mind the cabbage pieces which normally they might not eat.

I often make a double batch of this soup just so we have leftovers to eat for a few days, that’s how good it is! It’s absolutely perfect for a cold night, and the quick prep time makes it ideal for a busy weeknight.

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Cabbage Roll Soup Video

5 from 546 votes

Cabbage Roll Soup

AuthorSara Welch
A pot full of cabbage roll soup garnished with parsley.
This cabbage roll soup has all the same flavors as classic baked cabbage rolls, but with way less work! This unstuffed cabbage soup is hearty, filling and the perfect choice for an easy dinner option.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Serves 6


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage
  • 2 carrots peeled, quartered and sliced
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 3 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons parsley


  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula, until beef is browned, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the cabbage, carrots, beef broth, tomato sauce, rice, bay leaf and brown sugar to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove bay leaf and discard.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


  1. Recipe adapted from The Wholesome Dish.
  2. Not a fan of ground beef? Try ground turkey instead!
  3. You can substitute brown rice for white rice, but that will require about 20 more minutes of cook time.


Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 574mg | Potassium: 533mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3555IU | Vitamin C: 21.5mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2.5mg

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Instant family favourite!!
    Fast and easy to make. So much easier than cabbage rolls but tastier too. Nothing better on a cold and snowy day than warm soup! I made this recipe as written.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this soup today and I loved the flavor. I had to substitute vegetable broth for the beef broth but it still had great flavor. I used a bit of basil seasoning also as I use that when I do make cabbage rolls. Thank you for this recipe! I will definitely make it again!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe was amazing! I used ground chicken instead of the ground beef, lentils instead of the rice and 3 lime leaves instead of the bay leaf and the flavor was unbelievable!!

    1. I think it would be fine, you’d want to follow the recipe except omit the rice, cook on low for 4 hours, then add the rice and cook on high for another 20-30 minutes.

  4. 5 stars
    Getting ready to make this Soup now.
    For a twist. I’m going to boil some Pierogis to add right before serving…..

  5. 5 stars
    Today I was craving cabbage rolls like the ones some Polish friends made us years ago. I looked and looked for a recipe that would save me the time it takes to make the rolls but tastes the same. THIS.Was.It!! It was amazing. I added paprika, Worcestershire , and used a large can of crushed tomatoes in purée for 2 cans of tomato sauce. Also cooked the rice separately and added at the end. We added a dollop of sour cream when serving. It tasted EXACTLY like the rolls I remembered. Oh how wonderful it was!! Thank you so much for this excellent recipe.

  6. Great recipe and the family enjoyed, I did take the advice of substituting a can of diced tomatoes for tomato sauce as I do like chunks of tomato too. Also lowering the sugar but otherwise everything works and pretty quick. Thanks

  7. 5 stars
    This was great! My grandmother always used canned tomato soup in her cabbage rolls. The brown sugar gave it that same flavor! I should have separated the cubes of cabbage before dropping into the pot, so they weren’t as soft as I would like, but I’ll know better next time. This is a keeper! Thanks.

  8. 5 stars
    Thanks for this delicious recipe. My husband loves cabbage rolls but they are very time consuming. This is a perfect alternative and a recipe that doesn’t take long to pull together and eat within an hour.

  9. Making this tonight. Just a couple comments. I’m using green cabbage. Needs much more time than 25-30 min. I’ve cooked the rice beforehand to avoid overcooking the rice when simmering the soup. Cabbage takes a looonngg time to cook to be tender. Much more than 1/2 hr. Maybe I’m using different cabbage than identified in the recipe. But, with traditional cabbage rolls, cabbage takes a couple hours to bake.

    1. The cabbage in this recipe shouldn’t take very long to cook, it’s chopped into bite sized pieces. It’s a very different preparation and cooking technique than traditional cabbage rolls which do take a long time to bake.

  10. 5 stars
    Made this soup for dinner this evening. It was absolutely amazing. The only thing I did differently was substitute diced tomatoes for one can of tomato sauce. My husband loved it. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

  11. 4 stars
    Made this recipe step by step except keeping the rice separate so it doesn’t soak up all the moisture of the soup. It is delish!! As someone with a sweet tooth I found it a bit sweet for my liking. I would dial back the sugar for my next batch but all in all very delish!

  12. 5 stars
    I read where you said that you didn’t want to over cook it since it would make the rice mushy. Sooooo….. I decided to make the rice seperately and add to the bowl of soup as needed. Worked great since I knew that with just two of us there would be leftovers. Delicious soup. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I also cook my rice separately and add some Worcestershire. Made it about 10 days ago and ate every drop…
      And I live alone! Having a throat biopsy in the morning and doc told me so eat soft foods for a few days afterward so I’ve got another pot cooking right now! And I suggest adding some Worcestershire either when cooking or when serving, it really boosted the flavor!

  13. Made this soup a few weeks ago, to the letter, and it was awesome, took some to the sister-in-law and she loved it too! Planning on making again today but will add a can of crushed tomotoes in place of one of the cans of tomato sauce.

    1. 5 stars
      I made this for the first time this evening. My husband and I both loved it. I like that the recipe was quick and easy. I made it as instructed. I think the rice and carrots could have cooked a little more.