Cabbage & Beef Soup

My Brother’s Must-Have Soup with the Impossible Name


My siblings and I ventured into a traditional Polish restaurant* in Buffalo, NY and took a shot on a beef soup with an impossible sounding name. After his first slurp Jimmy wanted to get a quart of Golumpki Soup to go.

This is a full-bodied soup of cabbage, ground beef and tomatoes. It pretty much nails comfort in just these few ingredients. My freezer regularly holds Golumpki ready to become a main course light supper or a faithful lunch mate.

This soup is a deconstruction of traditional stuffed cabbage rolls, a backbone of Polish and Eastern European cuisine. I love to gild the lily and buy beef bones to make a stock in a slow cooker. (See easy directions below).

* Wiechech’s Bar & Grill, Buffalo, NY


  • butter – 2 TBS
  • ground beef – 1.5 LBS
  • onion – 2 cups, (1 large), crescent slices*
  • garlic – 2 TBS, minced, divided
  • cabbage, green – 7 cups, sliced thin [2 LBS]
  • tomatoes – crushed, 1 large can with juice [28 oz]
  • beef stock – 1 qt, or vegetable stock
  • soy sauce – 2 TBS
  • salt – 2 tsp
  • MSG – 1 tsp [optional]
  • pepper – 1 tsp, fresh ground is best

GARNISHES: Rice is traditionally cooked in the soup. I get better results serving as a garnish

  • cooked rice
  • parsley
  • sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS: If you add a 1/4 tsp of baking soda to the butter you will brown the beef more quickly

  1. In a large pot, brown beef in butter and remove with slotted spoon, retain fat in pot
  2. Sauté onion, half the garlic, and cabbage until softened, about 5 minutes
  3. Add back the beef with: tomatoes, stock, and salt. Let simmer, partially covered 20-25 minutes until cabbage is soft
  4. Add the remaining garlic [this is my way of boosting garlic flavor].  Taste for salt and finish with pepper
  1. PLANNED-OVER: Finely chop kimchi and serve as garnish

NOTES: It is a better mouthfeel to finely slice cabbage, rather than shred it


Slicing onions into crescents helps retain their shape through long cook times. I like to show the onions in most soups and stews. It’s easy: halve an onion through the poles, then slice along the longitude into thin “crescents.” If a large onion, halve first through the poles and then again through the equator, then slice into crescents.


Simple Soup Stock – The Backbone of Home-Meals

Most of us shy from making stock because of all those steps, the skimming, the fussing. Skip all that!

Ask your supermarket for some beef soup bones with a little meat on them. (Also works for pork, and chicken bones). If you buy a complete rotisserie chicken, this is an excellent way to make this stock.

To a slow cooker add chunks from 2 carrots, 2 small onions, and 2 celery ribs, along with the bones and 1 TBS. salt. You might add a couple bay leaves and some whole parsley stalks. Add water to cover all by at least 4-6 inches. Add 1 TBS. of apple cider vinegar. Cover and set it on low for 20-24 hours. Strain the stock through a colander and chill. Remove most of the fat and freeze in one quart containers.

I find beef soup bones at the farmers market at a booth that sells pastured beef. There are large chunks of beef on the bones which become chunks of very tender beef in a future stir fry or stew.

Golumpki Soup
beef, cabbage

© Bill Hettig,

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