Do you have any three ingredient soups ?  Cabbage soup is one of our staples.  I also would count chicken soup if you do not count the kosher salt and water as ingredients.  

Another one that is not homemade uses Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper Tomato soup.  Add one can of white beans and about a cup to one and a half cups of frozen spinach to a whole package of soup.  It is simple and quick.

Back to cabbage soup.  I have eaten this one since I was a little girl and my mom made it. 

Last year I spent time on the phone with my daughter walking her through making this soup.  She had moved into her first college apartment and wanted to make cabbage soup.  I heard her telling her brother that it tasted like home.

I grew up eating my mom’s cabbage soup with “cheese pancakes.”  They were crepes with cottage cheese filling.  Her Russian grandmother called them blintzes.

Cabbage soup has a lot going for it.  It is inexpensive, nutritious, easy, filling and warm on cold days.  It freezes well and it is low in calories.  

Bacon, cabbage and tomato juice are the three ingredients in this soup.  

Let’s talk about the benefits of each:

Tomato juice is full of the antioxidant lycopene (check out the fermented ketchup podcast episode 006 to learn more about lycopene).  

Besides lycopene, tomato juice contains vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and two grams of fiber per cup.  I have found I like Campbells brand best in this recipe, but my mom uses all kinds.

Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable which means it is loaded with sulforaphane.  It is also an excellent source of vitamin K (one cup raw provides 80% of your daily recommendation) & a good source of vitamin C with only 40 calories per cup cooked.

Bacon is loaded with delicious flavor.

This is what in my house we call a “granny recipe.”  That means I cannot give you exact amounts.  How much tomato juice you use depends on how big your cabbage is and if you use the whole thing or just half.  So I will do my best to give you guidance.

The first you want to do it slice  your cabbage. The compound that helps your body fight inflammation,  sulforaphane, needs some time to develop once the cell walls are broken, before heat or acid is added.  So start by chopping your cabbage.

Rinse your cabbage under cool water and discard any tough or wilted outer leaves.

Cut the cabbage in half so that you cut through the core.  Think of it as being pole to pole rather than around the equator.   Either will work but the core will helpl keep the cabbage together as you slice it.

Next slice several thin slices from one spot on the cabbage.  Then move a little to the left or right and slice thin slices again.  The reason you are rotating is so that the length of the slices do not get too long.  More than about two inches long are hard to pick up on your spoon.  But if you prefer to keep slicing in one place, you can do that.  Just cut the longer slices into several pieces.

Keep these slices fairly thin.  I try to keep them about 1/8 to 1/4 inches thick.

If you have a small cabbage, slice the whole thing.  If you have a large cabbage, slice half of it.  Cutting the cabbage is the most time consuming part of this recipe – especially the first three times you do it.  

Put your cabbage in a large bowl or in a mound on your counter.  

When your cabbage is all sliced, slice your bacon into slices about 1/2 inch thick.  I usually slice the whole pound (or 12 ounce) package and freeze the other two or three portions.  I put them in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag and label.  Then the next time you want to make cabbage soup, it is all ready for you.  Sometimes I use a knife to cut the raw bacon and sometimes I use a pair of kitchen shears. 

When the bacon is cut, place it in a single layer in the bottom of a large soup pot.  I usually use either 8 or 12 quarts.  At the same time, turn on your tea kettle.  You will need about 2-4 cups of boiling water to steam the cabbage.

Cook the bacon until it is well cooked.  Remove the bacon from the pot.  Leave the bacon drippings in the pot.  

Add the cabbage and then pour in about an inch of boiling water (or close to boiling – my tea kettle usually boils before I am ready for the water.  I just let it sit until I am ready for it) in the bottom of the pot that contains the cabbage.  Be careful, it will steam up.  Don’t let the steam burn you.

Place a lid on the pot and let the cabbage steam over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice.    

After 15-20 minutes, test the cabbage to see if it is done:  Select a thick piece of cabbage.  Blow on it to cook it.  Bite into it and see if it is cooked throughout.  If it is still crunchy or uncooked in the middle, steam it more.  

When the cabbage is done, add the tomato juice.  After pouring in the container of tomato juice, rinse the can or bottle with water (about a cup or so) and add that water to the pot.  

Now is the tricky part.  Do you need more tomato juice?  I always purchase two so that I can add more if needed.  You want there to be a lot of cabbage in the soup.  But you are not flavoring a big bowl of cabbage with a little tomato juice.  See the pictures, but I am guessing that you want about 1/2 cabbage and 1/2 tomato.  The first three pictures need more tomato juice.  The last one is just right.

Add in the bacon and heat until the soup is hot.  It is ready to serve.

As I mentioned above this soup freezes well.  I have also frozen the steamed cabbage and bacon.  When I thawed them, I added a small amount of water to the pot until it was thawed.  I then added tomato juice and some water to rinse the jar and brought it to a boil. It seemed thick to me so I added a little water (maybe one cup?)

Here are some pictures of the soup in a pot being warmed from frozen.  Since it may stain the container you freeze it in, I do not use one of my good containers.

This is a big bowl of warm vegetables to serve with your lunch or dinner.  Enjoy!


3 Ingredient Cabbage Soup with Bacon

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 16


  • soup pot


  • 1 head cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 - 2 64 ounce container tomato juice
  • 4 ounces bacon, sliced into ½ inch slices


  • RInse cabbage and cut pole to pole.
  • Thinly slice cabbage - about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick slices.
  • Slice bacon into ½ inch pieces.
  • Place bacon in a single layer in the bottom of a soup pot. I use an eight or 12 quart pot.
  • Put water on the stove to boil - about 2-4 cups.
  • Cook until bacon is done.
  • Remove bacon pieces, leaving the fat and drippings in the pot.
  • Add the cabbage to the pan.
  • Pour boiling water to cover the bottom of the pot by about an inch or so.
  • Cover the pot and steam the cabbage for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Check to see if the cabbage is done by tasting a piece with a thick rib. If it is not done, steam for a few more minutes and check again.
  • Add the tomato juice (see article and pictures above for how much to add.)
  • Stir in the bacon.
  • Cook until soup is heated through and serve.
    Homemade Philly cheesesteak sandwich and a bowl of cabbage soup
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


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