Spicy Cabbage Soup

Time to get back to some healthy recipes after posting two sweet recipes last week.  I have had a lot of cabbage around recently.  Cabbage will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.  I buy a head every few weeks and use it a little bit at a time for slaws to top pulled pork sandwiches, on fish tacos or in Asian salads.  I had an entire head in the fridge and then received another head of cabbage from Ron Hord’s vegetable delivery service last week (see my Chocolate Zucchini Bread post for more on Ron and his delivery service).  I really like how cabbage tastes in soups because it soaks up the flavor of the soup makes it a little more hearty.  This soup is light and fresh and delicious.  You can spice it up as much as you like which appeals to me (I kept it pretty mild for the kids and spiced it up for my husband and myself).  You definitely do not need to add meat — the cabbage, brown rice noodles and other vegetables are enough.  It almost has a Vietnamese Pho Ga feel although the broth has a deeper flavor.   Top it with bean sprouts, fresh herbs, fresh jalapenos…whatever you like.

Spicy Cabbage Soup (Serves 4)


1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes

4 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 small/medium or 1/2 of a large onion, cut into chunks

4-5 cups shredded cabbage

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

2 Tbsp soy sauce

3 cups broccoli, chopped into bite sized pieces (or sub spinach or arugula)

8 oz. shitake, baby bella or button mushrooms, sliced

5-6 cups vegetable broth (or chicken or beef broth)

1/2-1 tsp salt (perhaps a bit more if using low sodium broth and soy sauce)

4 oz. brown rice noodles

toppings: sesame oil, Sriracha or Tabasco, fresh basil, bean sprouts, fresh jalapeno slices


In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat two tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat.  Add chili pepper flakes and stir for 30 seconds.  Stir in onions and mushrooms so they are well coated with oil.  Cover and cook approximately 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet or wok, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil and add the cabbage on medium-high heat.  Cook and stir until cabbage is browned at the edges, approximately 10 minutes (the original recipes claims that the “browned cabbage is the secret to the soup’s flavor” and I agree).  Add the chopped garlic and stir for 15-20 seconds, then stir in the soy sauce until everything sizzles.  Add the cabbage mixture to the onion and mushroom mixture.  Add the bite sized broccoli and fry for a few minutes.  Add the vegetable broth and salt to taste.  Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 10 minutes.  In the last minute of cooking, add the brown rice noodles (and spinach if using it) and submerge in the liquid.  The noodles will soften in 2-3 minutes.  When they are tender, remove the soup from the heat.  Serve in individual bowls and season to taste with sesame oil and hot sauce.  Optional toppings include fresh basil, bean sprouts, fresh sliced jalapeno pepper.

Adapted from The Record.