Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food

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Under $3 to feed 10 people? Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food - PACKED with nutrition!

Do you know the thrill of creating a recipe from scratch? I can’t tell you how tickled I get when I manage something like this (it’s happened only a handful of times in my life). I think it’s pretty cool already that I have become bold enough in the kitchen to mess with other people’s recipes and tweak this and add that. I always think it looks so suave on the cooking shows when they don’t use measuring cups or spoons, but just dump spices into their hands or twirl the oil around the pan. Do you feel like you’re on TV when you do that in your kitchen? (I do. Just don’t tell anyone; it’s not very humble of me.)

This story starts with cabbage.  I bought my first head of cabbage this spring after reading about how healthy they are. The timing was great because they are so cheap around St. Patrick’s Day. I had always thought before that they were in a category with iceberg lettuce and didn’t have many nutrients. Don’t judge a book by its cover! I had this recipe picked out for the cabbage, but it only needed half the head. What do you do with a half head of cabbage (when you barely knew what to do with the first half)?

I pulled up a few cabbage soup recipes and decided on one that had beans in it and was based with chicken stock (two of my favorite foods to cook with, if you’ve been around KS for long!).

Recipes on the Computer and Multiple Tabs

Now you have to tell me: does anyone else do this? When I find a recipe or post I find interesting, I just leave it open in a tab. I currently have 11 windows open, each with 3-10 tabs. What?!? My husband thinks I’m crazy. Is this a female thing or just my weird quirk?

So this recipe was up on my computer for over a week, and I would pass it and think, yep, that’s planned for next week. But I never bookmarked it or printed it…and the night I wanted to make the soup, my computer had been acting up and lost all my windows. (Grrrr…)  It was off, and I wasn’t in the mood to wrestle with it.

I decided I’d seen the recipe flash past enough times that I could wing it! I don’t have a clue if this is close to the original; I couldn’t remember the seasonings at all, so I think it really is “mine”. Love it! Bragging! (Shutting up now – here’s the recipe…have you been wondering about the secret super food since Sunday’s post?)

Under $3 to feed 10 people? Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food - PACKED with nutrition!

Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food
Recipe type: Soup
  • Olive oil and butter ($0.30)
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped ($0.25)
  • 3-5 stalks celery, sliced ($0.25)
  • 3 carrots, sliced ($0.30)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped ($0.10)
  • 1-2 cans great northern beans (or 2-3 cups cooked if using dry) ($0.50-1.50)
  • ½ head cabbage, thinly sliced ($0.50-1.50 – varies greatly by time of year)
  • 6 cups chicken stock (free if homemade or $2-4.00)
  • 1-2 cups pumpkin ($0.40-1.00)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1+ tsp cumin
  • optional: 8 oz. can tomato sauce ($0.50)
  1. Melt ~1Tbs butter and 2Tbs olive oil.
  2. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and beans in order as you chop them.
  3. By the time you add the beans, the onions should be soft.
  4. Add salt, pepper, cumin and stir.
  5. Add cabbage and cover 5 minutes or so to wilt.
  6. Add broth, pumpkin (frozen is fine) and optional tomato sauce.
  7. Bring to a boil and reduce to high simmer.
  8. Cover and cook 15-30 minutes until carrots and cabbage are tender. Serves 8 - 10.
Super foods: 8 (or 9 with tomato sauce)  That is a ridiculous number of super foods! I’m proud of my recipe – can you cram any more nutrients in there? Husband would say “add meat” of course…
Cost:  $2.60-$5.70, up close to $10 if you use fancy chicken stock.
I like how this underscores the frugality of doing things yourself and shopping the sales and seasons. Dry beans and homemade chicken stock make a massive difference in price here, and shopping for pumpkin in the fall and cabbage in March really cut down the total cost as well. Under $3 to feed 10 people? Seriously. That’s awesome.

Under $3 to feed 10 people? Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food - PACKED with nutrition!

The version with tomato sauce…

The Story of the Secret

As I was assembling the ingredients I did some thinking like, “What spices will taste good with cabbage and beans?” which ran quickly into, “What spices does my family love and I’m in the mood for tonight?”  After tasting the soup, I must have been pondering orange vegetables. Maybe I was thinking about upcoming Super Foods. Maybe I was thinking about stuff in my freezer that I needed to use up. (I always freeze extras from a can in one-cup portions for muffins, but never make enough muffins…)  Maybe I noticed the many cans of pumpkin I have in my basement that I bought in the fall (when they’re on sale and then on clearance after Thanksgiving!) that I need to remember to use more often. Whatever the inspiration, my sneaky little self thought, “Could I put pumpkin in cabbage soup???”

Find this recipe, updated and with even more frugal tips and transformation options, along with 29 other bean recipes and a ton of information on cooking dry beans, the health benefits of beans, and ideas for bean haters in The Everything Beans Book, available now at Kitchen Stewardship!

My husband only eats pumpkin in muffins and bread. He won’t do pumpkin pie. He doesn’t do squash soup or sweet potato fries. The man is not picky, but he has a thing against orange fall vegetables, apparently. He also told me that his mom used to serve a tomato-based cabbage soup when he was little that he just loved. I know better:  pumpkins aren’t tomatoes. I almost didn’t do it…but a holy kitchen super food boldness stole over me…

I actually put 1 cup of pumpkin in half the soup and 1 cup of tomato sauce in the other half. My husband couldn’t guess what the “secret super food” was until I hinted about pie (practically gave it away). He was surprised to find he liked the pumpkin version better than the tomato, and another friend over for lunch that week concurred. (And she asked for the recipe, the best compliment she could give!)

Cabbage Soup Secret Super FoodNow you have it too. See if your family can guess the secret super food!

Once you open the can of pumpkin, what next? Here are 20 Ways to use Leftover Pumpkin.

Click here for my disclaimer and advertising disclosure - affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price.

72 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Georgia Schmitz says

    My mom makes a great cabbage soup in the fall. Similar to yours- no measuring so it’s always a little different. She uses a left over ham or boils ham hocks as a base but adds chicken stock because the stuff gets thick for left overs. She usually throws in tons of leftover veggies. I’ll have to tell her about your pumpkin addition.

    Just an FYI- my parents do canned saurkraut with cabbage from the garden. Talk about yum without the preservatives of store-bought.

  2. says

    Nice tip! I improvise constantly in the kitchen. But then I have the full confidence of professional training and work behind me. So it’s not all that much to brag about, for me.

    I like the idea of sneaking pumpkin puree into vegetable soup. My husband and I both have mixed feelings about squash. But we’re growing four different kinds this year for their marvelous keeping properties.

    Cabbage is one of my most favorite vegetables, and it is as you say a nutritional powerhouse. I like to stuff it with lentils and rice, put it in borsch, or into colcannon, a traditional potato-and-cabbage casserole from the British Isles.

    Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife’s last blog post..Tiny Tip: More Sunlight in Your Garden

  3. says

    I made this cabbage soup last night and just loved it! I was excited that I had stock (turkey not chicken) in the freezer and although I had pumpkin in the pantry I thought I would substitute summer squash that was also hanging out in the freezer. The flavor was wonderful! Thanks for posting!
    Kindly, ldh

    ldh’s last blog post..Show and Tell Friday: Vintage Plant ~ Sedum

    • Katie says

      It’s so validating to have someone else try and enjoy my recipe! Thanks for coming back to comment. Glad to know it can work with any gourd family vegetable! :)

  4. Joy says

    Sounds good, I will try it.

    One thing I often do with cabbage is make cabbage salad. It is not a cole slaw. I finely shred enough cabbage for the number of servings. Thsi can vary. Usually it is a 1/4 of a head for 2 people. Then I add some oil or olive oil. I sprinkle in a little garlic powder, dill weed, and salt. I then add either blue cheese or feta, and a tablespoon of cider vinager. We love it and eat it once aweek. It is always easy to keep cabbage on hand since it lasts for a long time in the fridge.

      • Katie says

        We tried it…and I was so skeptical. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like it, and positive my husband wouldn’t. We were both pleasantly surprised! We’ve had it twice now, and it’s quite an enjoyable summer salad! I’m falling more in love with cabbage, especially as it is very inexpensive right now at the Farmer’s Market. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  5. Lynne says

    This sounds really tasty. I will try it but use tomato puree instead of tomato sauce, only because I’m not a great tomato sauce fan lol. And I love pumpkin. It is cheap, cheap, cheap here in New Zealand. Cheaper than cabbage even – can you believe that?

  6. Laura says

    I made this last night. It is fabulous! My husband raved (and didn’t even bug me about the fact that there was no meat in it). That’s saying a lot! I didn’t put the tomato in and I added turmeric since I am trying to incorporate that spice wherever I can. Thank you!

  7. says

    I haven’t read your whole post yet but I do have the same problem with tabs and recipes. Do you use firefox? I have started in the past few months and it’s AWESOME because it saves my tabs for me if I close the program. It might ask me if I want it to, but I don’t think it does. When I reopen, they all come loading back up and everything’s back to “normal”- I love it!

    I look forward to trying this recipe- I have half a head of cabbage “aging” as I type 😀

    Lindsey in AL’s last blog post..I know…I know!

  8. Lynne says

    I finally made this and took your suggestion of leaving the tomato out. It was absolutely delicious and satisfying. It made lots more than I needed, so I froze some single serves that I can take to work, and I gave some to my mother too (she liked it as well). I will definitely make this one again, but maybe halve the quantities lol

  9. says

    I have made this soup twice now, minus the tomato, and it has been a HUGE hit, even for me, not being the biggest soup fan in the world. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Dawn says

    For the issue of the open pages all over your computer, I recently learned about Check it out! You can bookmark and tag all sorts of recipes that interest you (as I did with your cabbage recipe, since my CSA doesn’t have cabbage yet, and it may be a while), add all the tags you need to help you find it again, and then you have an online, paper-free cookbook at your fingertips! Neatest thing I’ve found online to support my cooking habit!

  11. Ann says

    I make improvised cabbage and bean soup all the time, but it would have never occurred to me to add pumpkin! (My hubbie, like yours, would also add meat–I made delicious roasted veggie wraps one night, but couldn’t decide what to make for a side. His suggestion? A steak!)

  12. Amy says

    Um….this is the best soup EVER!! I’m getting ready to make another batch now. Last time this went sooo fast around here. I just love all the superfoods included too! (I put a few drops of hot sauce in it before I eat it….I’m a Red Hot junkie :o)

    I love it Katie!!! Thanks!

  13. Amy J says

    Just had to say that I do the tab thing too – leaving them open for weeks cause “I’m going to do something with it …” Drives my husband crazy! 😀

  14. says

    I’ve got cabbage casserole in the oven right now. Brown up some ground beef with onion & pepper. Add in a can of diced tomatoes & seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil & oregano). Steam cabbage leaves for about 10 minutes. Layer a baking dish with the cabbage leaves (I did about 2-3 leaves thick) and then cover with the ground beef mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or so. Then cover with some cheese & bake until melty. Mmmm…..

  15. Julie via Facebook says

    I use cabbage in place spaghetti noodles. I steam it with some chicken broth and then mix it in with my favorite spaghetti sauce. We had it for dinner last night!

  16. Andrea via Facebook says

    Yeah, cabbage rolls and saurkraut, also cole slaw is the best… cabbage is sooo good for you and hardly any calories :)

  17. Kari via Facebook says

    I don’t have the link now, but I found a yummy looking homemade version of mu shu chicken, using red and green cabbage instead of Chinese veggies, online today.

  18. says

    I love cabbage soup, but never thought of putting pumpkin in it. Great idea and one that I have to try.
    I always muck around with recipes . . . it’s pretty rare that one gets made without being tweaked a few times. :) It’s the best way to cook!

  19. says

    Oh, my goodness you guys, I should have asked this last week and then gone back to get more cabbage! Wow! But would you believe, even tho I’m 50% Polish, I don’t like sauerkraut? (You should see my maiden name – 7 consonants in a row!)

  20. Julie via Facebook says

    Yes. Or you can throw it in the food processor. It makes for a very easy weeknight dinner. I call it spaghetti and my 2.5 yr old doesn’t know the difference. :) My husband doesn’t mind, either. It doesn’t really taste like noodles, but there is no bitter taste at all!

  21. says

    I made a dinner out of cabbage and potatoes last Friday. Sautéed onions and then browned the potatoes. Cooked them until they were soft about 20 min. Added shredded cabbage and chicken stock. Covered it and cooked it for about another 20 min. Very yummy. My 14 month old really enjoyed it.

  22. says

    Alexis Webber – I totally love the simplicity. My other fav cabbage meal – the only other one I know – is ground beef, onions, garlic, salt and pepper (and cabbage, of course) all just sauteed together. I serve it over rice w/soy sauce now, but I used to wrap it in bread dough, so yummy!

  23. says

    This soup is so amazing! We’ve made it twice now (which equals four dinners, thanks to the quantity it makes), and it’s one of our new absolute favorite foods! Sooo delicious.

  24. says

    I made this tonight and it was great! I didn’t think the hubby would like it but he DID! I added some whey from cheese making in addition to the broth – I was skeptical but heard it could be done – and it added a subtle delicious creaminess. I will definitely make this again!

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      I’ve never tried it – I’m guess it would still be good, but probably completely a purple soup. ?
      :) Katie

      PS So sorry it took me so long to respond…I got absolutely behind on comments when I released the second edition of the snacks book and truly have never caught up.

  25. says

    Just made this tonight, as I had everything on hand, and it was a hit. But when I asked my husband to guess the secret ingredient, he got it right away. : ) He said the pumpkin made it sweet and creamy. Great recipe. I love your blog and am inspired by it!

  26. Jodi M says

    Hi Katie! This soup was fabulous! I used almost all veggies from our CSA box…plus some pumpkin from a neighbor. It was soooo good! I added some homemade spicy ground turkey sausage to add another super food in there! A keeper and an 2012 addition to the Christmas soup party! Thanks you!

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