Stuffed Cabbage Soup

With the cold weather we’re having, I thought that soup would be a great idea for the weekend, with leftovers for the week. Poked around on the web and found a couple of recipes for stuffed cabbage soup. I had pretty much everything already in the house, so this one was fairly easy to whip up.

Since it’s a Sunday, I decided to spend some time cooking instead of throwing everything in the Instant Pot. I’m also on a sugar detox, so adapted this recipe from The Recipe Critic to be a bit healthier and detox friendly.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

Let’s talk ingredients! As I move to a more whole food, healthier lifestyle, I learn more everyday about the quality of food in our markets and what to avoid. Believe me, there is A LOT that should be avoided. Here are my tips:

  • Use organic, grass-fed ground beef from a trusted local source. I’m not going to get into a discussion on factory farming. 😊
  • All salt is not the same. Typical table salt is highly processed and ends up being around 99% sodium chloride, which makes it very easy to exceed a recommended daily intake. My standard choice now is Himalayan Pink Salt (HPS). HPS contains about 85% sodium chloride, and the remainder contains over 80 minerals have many health benefits. Organics has a great article describing the differences.
  • San Marzano tomatoes – I LOVE them. You may have wondered how a small town near Naples, Italy, produces enough of these wonderful gems to supply supermarkets year-round. It doesn’t. In fact, only about 5% of the San Marzano tomato products are authentic (ref. Food & Wine article). Read the label before spending your money. Here are the things to look for to make sure you’re getting the real deal:
    • San Marzano tomatoes are only sold in cans, either whole or in fillets. Tomatoes that are jarred or those that are labeled ‘puree,’ ‘chopped,’ ‘diced,’ ‘sauce,’ or ‘organic’ are not San Marzanos.
    • Look for the words ‘Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P.’ on the can; and the symbols of the Consorzio and the D.O.P., the latter of which identifies European regional food products protected by law. The Consorzio assigns a number to each can, labeled as ‘N° XXXXXXX.’ If you do not see these things, don’t pay the premium price.
  • White rice, bad – highly processed and stripped of nutrients. In this recipe, I used Lundberg’s Wild Blend, which turned out to be an excellent, hearty addition.



1 pound organic, grass-fed ground beef
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons Kerrygold butter, divided
1 medium head cabbage, cut into 8 wedges and sliced thickly
1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes, not drained
1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes (or 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes)
3 cups Swanson organic beef stock
3 cups cooked Lundberg Wild Blend rice


If you’re using a rice cooker, start your rice now. Mine took about 50 minutes to cook. Follow directions on your rice to prepare 3 cups of cooked rice.

Heat a dutch oven over high heat and add the ground beef; season well with the Himalayan pink salt and coarse black pepper. Crumble the ground beef into large crumbles, and make sure to get a good brown on it. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-high, and add half of the butter to the pan followed by the chopped onions. Saute the onions for 4-5 minutes until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until it becomes fragrant. Do not brown the garlic. Remove the onion and garlic mixture from the pan and set aside.

Keep the pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining butter and cabbage. Cook until cabbage is wilted and browned.

Pulse the can of San Marzanos in a blender until like crushed tomatoes. Do not process until pureed. Of course, skip this step if you’re using crushed tomatoes.

Add the beef and onion/garlic mixture into the pan, along with the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and beef stock. Let simmer for 30 minutes over low heat.

If you are cooking rice on the stove or in an Instant Pot, start it now. Follow the directions on the rice to make 3 cups of cooked rice.

After 30 minutes of simmering (and when the rice is done) add the rice just before serving, and stir gently. Enjoy! 😊


Tomato and Bread Soup – Pappa al Pomodoro

Lidia Bastianich is one of my favorite professional chefs, specializing in Italian and Italian-American cuisine; I’ve used a number of her recipes for inspiration. She’s the author of eight cookbooks, five of which are accompanied by a national series on Public Television. Her style of cooking is fresh, authentic Italian; based heavily on family traditions. In an interview, Lidia expressed her opinion on food and family:

‘Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways. It gives you security; it gives you a profile of who you are, where you come from.’

The lovely dish I made today, Tomato and Bread Soup, is a bright summer meal; the tomatoes and basil bursting with flavor, and the bread adding a hearty texture. I made this with canned San Marzano tomatoes, but I will definitely try it later in the summer when tomatoes are at peak season. I also left the crusts on the Italian bread, as I like some of the bread to stay in small chunks. If you’d prefer the bread to completely disintegrate, remove the crusts before adding to the soup.

Tomato and Bread Soup

I adapted this recipe from ‘Lidia’s Favorite Recipes’. This is a great cookbook to start with if you don’t have one of her cookbooks and want to try some wonderful Italian dishes.

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced Vidalia onion
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
Three 28-oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
Five 1/2 inch thick slices of stale Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
10 fresh basil leaves, washed
Freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep, heavy pot. Add the diced onion and cook until it starts to wilt, approximately 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 6 minutes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands in a large bowl, or with a food mill. If you’re crushing with your hands, be careful – some of them burst with juice when crushed.

Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot. Add the vegetable broth and bring everything to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the tomatoes have boiled for 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Add the bread and basil leaves to the pot and bring it back to a boil. Drop the heat so the soup is still simmering, low to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, whisking occasionally to break up the pieces of bread. The soup will be silky and dense after about 40 minutes.

Season the soup to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve in warm bowls, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Provide grated parmigiana-reggiano on the side. Enjoy!

Makes about 2 quarts; serves 8.