This creamy cabbage soup is pure comfort in a bowl. It's an easy recipe for a filling family dinner suitable for any day of the week.
This recipe is an alteration of a Czech sauerkraut soup recipe called "zelňačka". It's traditionally cooked with sauerkraut; however, my kids prefer fresh white cabbage.
Sauerkraut, as well as other fermented food, is a fantastic source of nutrients and probiotics, and it's a shame my boys aren't keen on it, but fresh cabbage is still packed with fibre and various vitamins.
Cabbage itself is an ancient vegetable that has been cultivated for thousands of years. During the Middle Ages, cabbage soup became a popular dish in Europe, particularly in regions where cabbage could be easily grown. It was a nutritious and economical option for peasants and commoners who relied on locally available ingredients.
Today, there are countless regional cabbage soup variations, from healthy, low-calorie options and traditional fermented sauerkraut soups to hearty, comforting combinations, including East-European borscht.
❤️ What is my Creamy Cabbage Soup like?
The base for my creamy potato cabbage soup includes a strong stock enhanced with caraway seeds, bay leaves and sweet paprika, flavours typical for middle European cuisine.
The cabbage and potatoes add volume and texture, and the Polish kielbasa introduces a bit of smokiness and a mouthwatering aroma. A generous portion of cream bonds all the flavours together, adding a luxurious taste.
📃 Ingredient Overview and Easy Substitutions
- White Cabbage
- Polish Kielbasa or Smoked Sausage
- Chicken Stock
- Plain Flour
- Caraway Seeds
- Sweet Paprika
- Bay Leaves
- Whole Allspice
- Whole Black Peppercorns
- Single Cream
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Lard or Oil (good for frying)
Possible substitutions include sauerkraut for a sharper, tangy flavour; red cabbage (it, however, dyes the soup purple/greyish and doesn't visually look very appealing); Savoy cabbage for a different texture and greener look.
Cabbage can be used in many different ways; check out our recipe for Braised red cabbage, our favourite side dish to accompany roast meat.
Any stock, homemade or shop-bought, liquid or dry stock cube is good. Our favourites are Kello organic stock cubes.
I recommend chicken or vegetable flavour for this cabbage soup.
It can be replaced with any smoked sausage or even Spanish chorizo. The soup tastes terrific with leftover gammon too.
Spices for cabbage soup
Do not skip caraway seeds and bay leaves; those give the soup a traditional taste. Sweet paprika can be replaced with smoked paprika.
Allspice and black peppercorns are optional.
Thickening the soup with flour gives it a more velvety, creamy mouthfeel and body. To make the soup lighter, prepare it without the flour.
👍 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 for a few seconds at a moderate temperature. This way, paprika will retain its red colour and sweet taste.
When to add cream
The single cream can curdle if boiled. Stir the cream into the soup at the end once you take the pot off the heat.
Use at least one teaspoon of white wine vinegar to balance the flavours.
A large amount of vinegar (more than one teaspoon) added to the soup in one go can curdle the cream. Add the vinegar in small steps and stir the soup each time to prevent curdling.
💡 How to Modify My Creamy Cabbage Soup
Use gluten-free flour and ensure the sausage is gluten-free as well.
For the right texture and taste, I recommend gram flour. It goes well with savoury recipes, especially those with root vegetables, cabbage and legumes. It has a very subtle flavour of yellow peas, but you won't be able to taste it once cooked. Simply substitute gram flour for plain flour 1:1.
Skip or substitute the sausages with vegan sausage, use vegetable stock, and replace the cream with a plant-based alternative; our favourite is Oatly Creamy Oat.
I recommend using vegan-friendly smokey flavouring to add smokiness to the soup, like Colgin Liquid Smoke Cooking & Bbq Sauce.
Experiment with different types of cabbage, including fresh white, red, Savoy and sauerkraut, and add root vegetables, like carrots or parsnips.
This soup tastes great with smoked sausages, gammon and roast beef leftovers, but it's fantastic without the meat.
If you want lighter soup, skip the cream and flour.
🍽️ How to Serve
- The soup makes a delightful starter or tasty main meal suitable for lunch or dinner.
- It's best to serve it hot.
- Present it in a soup bowl and garnish with freshly cracked pepper.
- Pair it with crusty bread or baguette for a satisfying main course.
How to Store and Reheat
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- To reheat, warm the soup gently on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally. Or use a microwave.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can freeze the soup without the cream. When ready to serve, defrost and reheat, then add cream and vinegar before serving.
Yes, you can use red cabbage, but it will change the colour of the soup.
Creamy Cabbage Soup
- 1 onion diced
- 3 tablespoons lard or oil for frying
- 3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds levelled
- 5 pieces allspice optional
- 5 pieces black peppercorns optional
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika heaped
- 1.2 litres stock (chicken or vegetable) 1 ½ dry Kello stock cube
- 3 bigger potatoes cut into small cubes
- 500 gram white cabbage ( ½ head) shredded
- 250 grams smoked sausage (polish kielbasa) sliced
- 40 grams plain flour to thicken
- 100 millilitres single cream
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or as much as you desire
- large cooking pot with a lid
- In a large pot, fry onion until translucent.
- Reduce to moderate heat. Add garlic, caraway seeds, allspice, peppercorns and paprika. Let it fry for a few seconds. Note: Don't wait too long; paprika can burn quickly.
- Pour in the stock.
- Add cubed potatoes, bay leaves and finely chopped cabbage. Cover the pot with a lid, bring to a gentle boil and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add sausages, season soup with salt and continue cooking for 10 more minutes.
- Make a smooth, pourable paste by mixing the flour with a small amount of warm water.Pour the flour paste into the soup while stirring continuously. Cook for 5 more minutes to allow the flour to cook and thicken the soup.
- Take the soup off the heat and stir in the cream.
- Add vinegar in small steps; stir each time to combine. Add as much or as little as you desire.
- Note: If you see any spices and bay leaves, you can remove them before serving.
Hana D. says
I made the soup exactly as is and it is delicious. If I am trying to eat healthy I only add 1 TBS. fat instead of three and no cream. Sometimes for a change I will only add 2 potatoes and 1/4 cup of barley instead of 3 potatoes. Either way, the soup turns out great every time.
Hi Hana, I am glad you enjoy our cabbage soup. I like how you adjust the recipe. I sometimes do the same - last time, I used gammon (ham) leftovers instead of sausages, added more sweet paprika and no cream. I cooked the ingredients in gammon stock I had left, and it was delish.