I had never cooked with whole, fresh cabbage before, and honestly my childhood experiences with cabbage made me want to run the other way. My grandma would make stuffed cabbage rolls on occasion and I distinctly remember how awful it smell as it cooked for what seemed like hours. I think my grandma would be proud of me for getting past my dislike for cabbage and trying this soup. And I'm certain she would love the tasty results.
My husband and I have been eating this soup every day since I made the first pot three days ago. This is a big deal for Kevin because he normally doesn't request leftovers even if he enjoyed the meal the first time around. He tells me it's the rice. He loves what the rice does to this soup. There's hardly more than a cup of rice in 6 quarts of soup, but it makes a difference and adds the perfect thickness and consistency.
There aren't any special seasonings or spices in this soup aside from salt or pepper, and I love it that way. I'm the one who adds spices to everything, but I'm glad I stuck to the recipe on this one--the delicate flavor combination of the cabbage, beef and tomatoes is just too perfect to cover with extra seasonings.
Hearty, delicious and nutritious, I hope you love this soup as much as we do!
Unstuffed Cabbage Soup
recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen
1/2 cups uncooked rice plus up to 2 cups water
1 whole onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 pound ground beef or turkey
3 cans (14.5 Oz. Can) plain diced tomatoes
2 whole bay leaves
4 cups water
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1 Tbsp tomato paste
In a small sauce pot combine rice and up to 2 cups water (depending on type or rice and specific package directions.) Bring water to boil, stir occasionally until fully cooked.
In a heavy pot, saute onions until translucent. Add minced garlic and sliced celery. Cook until fragrant and tender. Add ground beef or turkey to the cooking pot, breaking up into small pieces, and cooking until brown and cooked through. Add cooked rice, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, 4 cups water, shredded cabbage, and tomato paste (can substitute with ketchup). Salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for one hour, until cabbage is thoroughly softened.
Store leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Soup will thicken after setting. Add additional water each time soup is reheated, to bring back to desired soup-consistency.