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Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food

Cabbage Soup With Secret Super Food

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.)

Winter Soups - a best of community cookbook

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, although they’re one of the best buys in the produce section any time of year. 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 homemade chicken stock (two of my favorite foods to cook with, if you’ve been around KS for long!).

RELATED: How to make any soup recipe in the Instant Pot.

Cabbage 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…

Cabbage Soup With Secret Super Food
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Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Katie Kimball


Units Scale
  • Olive oil and butter ($0.30)
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped ($0.25)
  • 35 stalks celery, sliced ($0.25)
  • 3 carrots, sliced ($0.30)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped ($0.10)
  • 12 cans great northern beans (or 23 cups cooked if using dry) ($0.50-1.50)
  • 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced ($0.501.50 – varies greatly by time of year)
  • 6 cups chicken stock (free if homemade or $2-4.00)
  • 12 cups pumpkin ($0.40-1.00)
  • 1 tsp salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1+ tsp cumin
  • optional: 8 oz. can tomato sauce ($0.50)

ship kroger


  1. Melt ~1Tbs butter and 2Tbs olive oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!).
  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.

The version with tomato sauce…

Cabbage Soup With Secret Super Food

The Story of the Secret Ingredient

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 the 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 of pumpkin 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???”

The Everything Beans Book eBook

The Everything Beans Book has twenty pages of beany information, including all you could possibly want to know about legume nutrition, how to cook dry beans, and lots of time-saving tips for managing this frugal source of protein and fiber more often in your kitchen.

It also offers 30 bean recipes, for the bean lovers of the world and the bean haters.

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!)

Now 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.

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Cabbage Soup With Secret Super Food
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16 thoughts on “Cabbage Soup with Secret Super Food”

  1. This recipe is truly fantastic. The reason I first tried it was because it looked like a great recipe to have on hand when you haven’t been to the grocery store in a while – a “pantry-heavy” recipe that’s healthy and looked tasty. The reason I keep making it is that it truly does taste great! Something about the broth + pumpkin (+ tomato sauce, which we always add) just makes a great base, and works well with lots of different veggies. I never in my wildest dreams though my family would ask for more when it comes to cabbage soup – but every single one of us loves it; this is definitely a winner for us!

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  3. I’m Portuguese and we make a version of this in our Kale Soup Recipe. There are as many different Kale Soup recipes out almost as there are spaghetti sauce recipes! Anyway, I’m going to try adding the pumpkin and tomato next time. Thanks for this great tip to bump up the nutrition!

    The Kale Soup recipe that I use is the base of Katie’s recipe beans, veggies, broth (without the tomato sauce and pumpkin) and includes the use of kale, cabbage, a beef soup bone that you pick off the meat and add it to the soup and/or pork stock, beef stock, chix stock and/or linguica or chourico. I’ve been omitting the linguica/chourico because I haven’t found a “clean” sausage yet. I also finish it off with parsley and sometimes add see vegetables (wakame) to bump up the nutrition. Hope you enjoy!

  4. I am making a double batch of this right now – I got tons of wonderful veggies from my CSA. As for adding one more super food, I had a nice bunch of kale that I chopped and tossed in. I also had a few tomatoes from the garden and pureed them instead of using canned sauce. My kitchen smells wonderful and we can’t wait to eat this for lunch!

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  7. I make what I call “hash”… brown up some sausage, fry sliced potatoes in the grease, then add cabbage to the top of the skillet, cover and steam. Then I add back the sausage and seasonings (differs each time!). Cheap, easy, and the family loves it!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

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  13. Julie via Facebook

    Alexis’s suggestion reminds me of one of my childhood favorites, the only way I ate cabbage as a kid- Bubble and squeak!

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