German Cabbage Soup Recipe

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This German cabbage soup is sure to put a smile on your face, and your tummy!!!

I’ve been eating this cabbage soup my entire life. From the time I could eat solids, my Grandmother and Mom have made this soup for me. It’s a World War II recipe my grandmother brought with her to America when she and my mom immigrated here in 1951. It’s a good, tummy-warming soup for a cold winter night.

German cabbage soup served in a white bowl. A stainless steel spoon sits in the bowl.

While I’ve made a change or two to make it a bit healthier (the original version used beef, whole eggs, and many potatoes), it’s still basically the same soup my grandma made all those years ago.

If you’ve never had cabbage soup “German-style”, I highly recommend it. It’s nothing like the American or Asian versions. German cabbage soup is a hearty soup that has prolific amounts of caraway seed. The more you add, the better the soup tastes. The best part about this tasty meal is the nutrition data listed below. This is a very low-cal/low-fat soup, it really fills you up and keeps you satisfied!

What Is German Cabbage Soup?

Known in German as “Kohlsuppe” (coal-zooppa – Like “book”, not like “zoo”.), cabbage soup can be made in any number of ways, depending on what country a recipe comes from. Cabbage is very versatile stuff! The German version uses a lot of caraway seed. It’s a main part of the flavor and is very tasty mixed in with the meatballs. 

Some recipes out there will include vinegar, white wine, cloves, nutmeg, orange rind or even juniper berries. But this recipe keeps things pretty basic. There aren’t a lot of ingredients.

If you don’t like the idea of biting down on a bunch of caraway seeds (one of my favorite parts of this soup!), you can put the portion that goes into the broth, into an herb sachet first. Attach the string to the side of the pot, or let it just float at will. Your choice. A bit of kitchen twine will get the job done if you don’t want to fish around to get it out when the soup is done.

Can You Use Beef In German Cabbage Soup?

Absolutely! Simply sub the same amount of beef for the ground turkey. You can also use beef broth if you prefer. That was the original way of making this recipe when my grandma made it. I much prefer it with chicken broth and ground turkey, but those are just my personal preference. It’s just as tasty with beef!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head cabbage (Napa or green cabbage. Either will work. Avoid using shredded cabbage. It won’t hold up well.)
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey (you can use ground beef too)
  • 6 tbsp. caraway seed (4 tbsp. for soup, 2 tbsp. for the meat balls.)
  • 8 cups chicken broth (veggie broth works too – no sugar added)
  • 2 large eggs (or 4 egg whites – reduces fat but increases sodium)
  • 1½ cups chopped red onion – Approximately 1 large onion.
  • 4 cups drinking water (plus more if needed)
  • 4 cups chopped russet potatoes (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste after cooking

How To Make German Cabbage Soup

Water being poured into a stock pot with chicken broth for making this German Cabbage Soup recipe.

In a large soup pot or large dutch oven, set your broth and water to boil on the stove.

Chopped cabbage laying on a wooden cutting board.

Chop your cabbage and set it aside.

All the meatball ingredients added to a white mixing bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, mix your turkey meat, onion, eggs, and 2 tbsp. of your caraway seed.

Caraway seed in an orange measuring spoon, about to be added to a stock pot of broth for German cabbage soup.

Add the remaining caraway seeds to the broth.

A rolled meatball about to be added to boiling broth.

Roll small (walnut size) amounts of turkey into balls and drop them gently into the hot pot of boiling broth. If using potatoes, add to the pot next.

Chopped cabbage added to a stock pot with a lid placed on the top.

Top off with cabbage, and cover with a lid. Return pot to a full boil, and reduce heat to a strong simmer. (approximately medium heat or medium-high heat. Make sure to stir occasionally, especially the bottom of the pot.

The finished German Cabbage Soup Recipe served in a white bowl.

When the meatballs (and potatoes if using) are cooked through and the cabbage is soft, it’s done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

How To Store German Cabbage Soup

This is best kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Can You Freeze German Cabbage Soup?

You can! Store in a freezer-safe container and keep frozen for up to 2 months.

What To Serve With German Cabbage Soup

  • Whole grain bread or pumpernickel bread with a pat of butter
  • Green salad
  • A couple slices of garlic bread

Recipe Variations

  • If you like to melt cheese over the top of your soup (like with french onions soup), you can melt a slice of swiss cheese over the top of your bowl after filling it. Even an If you like to melt cheese over the top of your soup (like with french onions soup), you can melt a slice of swiss cheese over the top of your bowl after filling it. Even an extra-sharp white cheddar cheese could potentially work, but swiss would taste best.
  • You can add sliced carrots or any vegetable you like.
  • If you want to intensify the flavor, you can sauté the onions in a medium to large saucepan or large skillet first. Use a little extra-virgin olive oil or other mild-flavored oil. About one tablespoon should do the trick.
  • You can mix a small amount of minced, cooked, crisp bacon (bacon bits) into the meatballs for extra flavor.
  • In place of ground turkey meatballs, you can use a good smoked sausage instead.

The Best Dessert With This Recipe?

If you want to serve dessert, the best followup to this soup is just about anything with apples. Here are a few ideas.

Recipe Supplies

More Healthy Soup Recipes

German Cabbage Soup Recipe Card + Video

Copyright Information For The Gracious Pantry
This wonderful German Cabbage Soup Recipe is sure to become a family favorite!

German Cabbage Soup Recipe

A hearty German soup recipe that is sure to become comfort food for you, just as it has for me.
4.77 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: German
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 140kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

CLICK TO WATCH THIS RECIPE IN ACTION!

Equipment

  • 1 Large stock pot

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head cabbage (Napa or green cabbage. Either will work)
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey (you can use ground beef too)
  • 6 tbsp. caraway seed (4 tbsp. for soup, 2 tbsp. for the meat balls.)
  • 8 cups chicken broth (veggie broth works too – no sugar added)
  • 2 large eggs (or 4 egg whites – reduces fat but increases sodium)
  • cups chopped red onion
  • 4 cups drinking water (plus more if needed)
  • 4 cups chopped russet potatoes (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste after cooking

Instructions

  • In a large pot, set your broth and water to boil.
    Water being poured into a stock pot with chicken broth.
  • Chop your cabbage and set aside.
    Chopped cabbage laying on a wooden cutting board.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix your turkey meat, onion, eggs and 2 tbsp. of your caraway seed.
    All the meatball ingredients added to a white mixing bowl.
  • Add the remaining caraway seeds to the broth.
    Caraway seed in an orange measuring spoon, about to be added to a stock pot of broth.
  • Roll small (walnut size) amounts of turkey into balls and drop them gently into the boiling broth.
    If using potatoes, add to pot.
    A rolled meatball about to be added to boiling broth.
  • Top off with cabbage, and cover. Return pot to a full boil, and reduce heat just enough to keep it from boiling over.
    Chopped cabbage added to a stock pot with a lid placed on the top.
  • When the meatballs (and potatoes if using) are cooked through and the cabbage is soft, it's done. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    The finished German Cabbage Soup Recipe served in a white bowl.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 140kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 628mg | Potassium: 657mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 146IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 2mg

This recipe is from the Gracious Pantry® archives, originally posted on 1/27/10.

Image depicting 5-star rating. Image text says, Love this recipe? Give it a star rating in a comment below.

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27 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    THANK YOU!! I had all these ingrediants on hand, and we all loved it! I have 4 kids (2, 7 11, 12), and all ate it just fine, exept the 12 year old who added more salt. I was ok with that since he has chosen, on his own, to have no sugar for 2 weeks, and is doing a marvelous job. Maybe next encouragements come in the sodium department. Anyhoo, thank you! I love your blog, and have tried many new things because of you!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Hi Lori!

      I’m so glad you all loved the recipe! It’s pretty good stuff. I had a hard time passing it up as a kid too.
      Congrats on the 12 year old passing up sugar for 2 weeks. That’s fantastic!
      I’m so flattered that you read my blog. Thank you so much! I’ll try to keep the “new things” coming! lol

      Have a great day,
      Tiffany

  2. trude wofford says:

    I love soup, this one is wonderful! thanks for sharing

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Trude – So glad you enjoyed it! I love this soup. I grew up with it. It’s my all time favorite. So many memories wrapped up on one bowl of soup….

  3. Yvonne White says:

    Your cabbage soup recipe looks delicious! I would prefer to use organic lean ground beef (can’t stand ground turkey and there are nutrients in beef not found in turkey). And there’s nothing wrong with whole eggs – I would use two. The yolks are very nutritious and got a bad rap due to ancient faulty studies done with powdered eggs instead of fresh.
    I make my own broth using healthful Himalayan Salt, so the sodium is not a problem unless you overdo it.
    It would also be helpful to know how many Tablespoons to use of caraway seed since it can come in different size jars! I can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Yvonne – Gracious! This post was in desperate need of an update, which has now been done. Thanks for the heads up!

      You are right that lean beef and whole eggs are clean. But I have found that in putting them together, this recipe was just way too high in cholesterol. So that’s why I made the changes. Feel free to adapt it any way you like to suit your needs.

  4. As I understand it, there is no scientific link that eating cholesterol causes high cholesterol or heart issues. I’m with Yvonne, I think I’ll try it with the 2 eggs. Also, I was wondering about using ground lamb. It struck me that it would be mighty tasty with that!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Becca – I’m not sure how the lamb and caraway would go together. If that’s a combination that appeals to you, by all means. Give it a try. I just don’t care for lamb, so I never cook with it. And yes, 2 whole eggs will work fine. I just try to use egg whites wherever possible because I tend to get my whole eggs elsewhere in my meal plan. I do eat them, but I limit them. Let me know how the lamb turns out!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Tammy – Glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Have you ever tied this in a pressurer cooker?

    1. graciouspantry says:

      No. I don’t own one.

  7. Vintagetink says:

    5 stars
    I made this tonight with ground beef and two whole eggs. It’s very good!

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed it!

  8. graciouspantry says:

    My pleasure! Glad it worked out!

  9. Buffy Riphagen says:

    5 stars
    Just started eating clean this year and was instantly drawn to this recipe. Tried it today and oh. My. God! Ah-mazing!! Definitely a keeper, thank you so much!

  10. This makes a ton of soup! How would this freeze? I am considering halving the recipe if it can’t be frozen,

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      It freezes great! But the cabbage does get a little softer. Not a bad thing though!

  11. That is a lot of caraway! Is it really supposed to be that much it’s a very strong caraway flavor and u didn’t even add the full amount! I’m not sure my kids will eat it and the recipe made so much…

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Julie – Yes, it’s supposed to have that much. But if you don’t care for it, you can always strain some out. Most of it will sink to the bottom.

  12. 5 stars
    I made this last night to have for dinner tonight! It smells SO amazing! I admit, I was a little reluctant with the amount of caraway seeds… but after having a taste – holy smokes – its worth it. It really adds to the soup!
    Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Megan – My pleasure! One of my all time favs!

  13. Have you ever tried this without the meat? I’m not a vegetarian but I prefer most of my food without meat. It sounds delicious and I wonder if it would be just as good if I skip the meatballs.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Lori – The meatballs really make this dish. You could certainly try it, but I’m not sure it would be all that great.

  14. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! It is nearly the only thing I can eat when I have a gastritis flare up! Easy on my stomach while it is healing and I actually crave it even when im not sick. Yummmyyy!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Erica – My pleasure!

  15. Lee Ann Kaplan says:

    5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight! My 5 year old says its amazing! My husband thinks I’m trying to kill him with green food (avid veggie hater lol), I’ll update his thoughts after he eats his bowl. I think its delicious and will be making it whenever I feel like it, especially when sickies are in the house or the forecast is wind and rain!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Lee Ann – Haha!! Oh dear. Yes, please tell me what he thinks when he’s done! Glad you enjoyed it! 😀

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