This creamy potato cabbage soup is pure comfort in a bowl. It's an easy recipe for a filling family dinner.
This hearty and comforting soup is called "zelňačka" in Czechia. It is often cooked with sauerkraut, however, my family prefers to use fresh white cabbage.
Sauerkraut together with other fermented food is not only full of vitamins but also contain probiotics. It's a bit of a shame my boys aren't keen on sauerkraut, but on the other hand, I am happy that they like cabbage, after all. Fresh or fermented it's still packed with vitamins and fibre, much-needed during winter.
The cabbage is cooked with smoked sausages, potatoes and various herbs and spices for subtle aromatic flavours typical for middle European cuisine. To make this simple soup stand out from the crowd, I like to add cream to it.
❤️ Why I like This Creamy Cabbage Soup
- takes less than a hour to make
- tastes deliciouse
- good for batch cooking
📃 Ingredient Overview and Easy Substitutions
- 500 g white cabbage ( ½ head); shredded
- 250 g smoked sausages (like Polish kielbasa); sliced
- 3 bigger potatoes; cut into cubes
- 1 onion; diced
- 1.2 l chicken stock; we use 1 ½ dry Kello stock cube
- 3 cloves of garlic; finely sliced
- 40 g plain flour; or gluten-free gram flour
- 1 tsp caraway seeds; levelled
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika; heaped
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 whole allspice; optional
- 5 whole black peppercorns; optional
- 100 ml single cream
- 1 tsp apple cyder vinegar
- 3 tbsp lard or oil; for frying
The original Czech "zelňačka" is always made from white cabbage. Replacing the white for red cabbage is possible - it doesn't affect the taste - however, the red cabbage dyes the soup purple/greyish which is not visually very appealing.
I like fresh white cabbage the best, but you can substitute it with sauerkraut.
Use any smoked pork sausage. If the sausage is spicy and flavoured with paprika even better.
We have many smoked sausage varieties to choose from in Czechia. Here in the UK, I usually buy smoked Polish sausage called 'kielbasa'. All bigger supermarkets stock it.
Tip: Good quality sausages contain a high percentage of meat (90 % and higher).
Spices for cabbage soup
I'm using typical middle European seasoning for my white cabbage soup including:
- caraway seeds
- sweet paprika
- bay leaf
- allspice (optional)
- black peppercorn (optional)
Note: Do not skip or substitute caraway seeds, paprika and bay leaf from the recipe. These spices add classic Czech flavours to the dish. The soup without them wouldn't be the same.
Thickening the soup with flour makes it more filling, ideal if you have it as a main meal. It's not necessary to use flour if you don't mind the soup being more watery.
In Czech, soups are served as a starter before the main dish. In that case, it's ok if it is lighter and not as thick.
Any stock - homemade or shop-bought; liquid or dry stock cube is good to use. Our favourites are Kello organic stock cubes.
I recommend chicken or vegetable flavour for this cabbage soup.
Hands-on Time and Recipe Difficulty
The method can be broken down into three individual steps:
- 20 minutes - preparation (cutting, chopping, making stock)
- 20 minutes - cooking cabbage and potatoes
- 15 minutes - thickening the soup and last touches
This is a great simple recipe that doesn't require any advanced cooking skills and can be done in less than an hour.
👍 Cooking Tips
Turn the heat down before adding spices to the pan. This prevents the paprika from burning and becoming bitter.
Once you add paprika to the pan, fry it just for a few seconds at moderate temperature. This way, paprika will retain its red colour and sweet taste.
When to add cream
The cream can separate if you cook it for too long. Stir the cream into the soup at the very end, once you take the pot off the heat.
Use at least ½ a teaspoon of white wine vinegar to balance the flavours.
Adding too much vinegar in one go can curdle the cream. ½ teaspoon is a small amount, but if you add more, do it in small steps and stir the soup thoroughly before adding more.
💡 How to Adjust my Creamy Cabbage Soup Recipe (Vegan, Gluten-free)
If you want to make this soup vegan make sure to replace these ingredients:
- smoked sausages
- chicken stock
- single cream
I don't use any vegan alternative to sausages, but I match the smoked flavour by using smoke flavouring - we like: Colgin Liquid Smoke Cooking & Bbq Sauce 118Ml and sometimes add some root vegetables like carrots and parsnips.
Swap chicken stock for vegetable stock. We like: Kallo Organic Vegetable Stock Cubes 8Pk 88G.
Replace single cream with a vegan alternative. We like: Oatly Creamy Oat 250Ml
Pay attention to these three ingredients:
- plain flour
Read the labels to find out if your stock and sausages are gluten-free (lots of them are, but others are not).
Swap plain flour for gram flour. Gram flour is gluten-free and it goes well with savoury recipes, especially those with root vegetables, cabbage and legumes. It has a very subtle flavour of yellow peas, but once cooked, you won't be able to taste it at all. Simply substitute gram flour for plain flour 1:1.
Creamy Cabbage Soup
- 500 gram white cabbage ( ½ head) shredded
- 250 grams smoked sausage (polish kielbasa) sliced
- 3 bigger potatoes cut into cubes
- 1 onion diced
- 1.2 litres stock (chicken or vegetable) 1 ½ dry Kello stock cube
- 3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
- 40 grams plain flour to thicken
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds levelled
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika heaped
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 pieces allspice optional
- 5 pieces black peppercorns optional
- 100 millilitres single cream
- 1 teaspoon apple cyder vinegar
- 3 tablespoons lard or oil for frying
- large cooking pot with a lid
- In a large pot, fry onion until translucent.
- Reduce to moderate heat. Add garlic, allspice, peppercorns, caraway seeds and paprika. Let it fry for a few seconds. (Don't wait too long, paprika burns quickly).
- Pour in the stock; add cubed potatoes, finely chopped cabbage and bay leaves. Cover with a lid, bring to gentle boil and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add sausages, season with salt and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
- Make a smooth, pourable mixture from flour and a small amount of warm water.
- Pour the flour mix into the soup; stir continuously. Cook for an additional 5 minutes to allow the flour to cook and thicken.
- Take off the heat and stir in the double cream.
- Add a splash of vinegar; stir to combine.
- Try to find and remove peppercorn, allspice and bay leaves before serving.