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 [1.5 LBS.]
  • tomatoes – crushed, 2 large cans with juice [56 oz. total]
  • beef stock – 1 qt., or water
  • soy sauce – 2 TBS.
  • salt – 2 tsp.
  • 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. Next sauté onion, garlic and cabbage until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add back the beef with tomatoes, stock, and salt. Let simmer, partially covered 45 minutes and check seasoning. Continue to cook if cabbage is not very soft. Finish with pepper.
  1. PLANNED-OVER: Finely chop kimchi and serve as garnish

NOTES: It is better to finely slice cabbage, than to 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 is large chunks of beef on the bones which become chunks of very tender beef in a future stir fry or stew.

© Bill Hettig,

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