Cabbage and sausage soup has got to be one of the most delicious ways to enjoy cabbage! This cabbage soup features thick slices of kielbasa sausage that have been browned in butter, complemented with the delicious flavors of carrots, onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic.
Cabbage is an underrated vegetable in my opinion! It's affordable, lasts a long time in the fridge (maybe even longer than three weeks, according to this article on cabbage storage), and it's super versatile. One of my favorite ways to prepare cabbage is in soup, since it's one of the easiest methods and the mild flavor pairs so well with many other ingredients.
If you are interested in cooking more cabbage, or you are already a cabbage fan, I think you will really like this cabbage and sausage soup recipe. First of all, it's easy to make, with readily accessible ingredients (including that cabbage you've maybe had rolling around in the fridge for over a week - calling myself out here!).
And, most importantly, the flavor of this soup is absolutely divine! The recipe starts with browning kielbasa slices in butter, so you know it's got to be good! Add to this the mild, tender, and slightly sweet flavor of the cooked cabbage, and you've got yourself a deliciously hearty (but not too heavy) soup that's perfect any day of the week.
- Kielbasa: you will need one package of smoked kielbasa (this is the kielbasa that comes fully cooked, not fresh sausage). Most packages in the US vary from 12 - 14 ounces, so anything in that range is fine.
- Butter: you can use salted or unsalted butter here, there is only a small amount so it won't change the flavor too much.
- Broth: you can use either beef or chicken broth/stock, or even vegetable broth if that's what you have on hand.
Step by step photos
Here is a breakdown of how to make the cabbage and kielbasa soup. To see a brief slideshow how-to, check out my web story for this recipe!
1. The first step is to prep the veggies. Peel and slice the carrots and chop the onions. Finely chop the garlic.
Then, remove the tough outer leaves from the cabbage, and cut out the core. Chop the cabbage into bite-sized pieces. Set the veggies aside for now.
2. Next, slice the kielbasa. I like to do this on an angle, but any way you slice it is fine! Aim for slices about ⅓ inch (8.5 mm) thick.
3. Once you have the sausage prepped, place a large soup pot or Dutch oven on the stove, over medium heat. Add the butter to the pot.
4. Once the butter is foamy, add in the sliced kielbasa sausages. Spread them out in the pot in an even layer and let them cook.
Once they've browned on one side, give them a stir and spread them out again to continue browning.
5. When the sausages have a nice brown crust on them, add in the chopped onion and garlic. Stir and cook that together for a few minutes to give the onion a chance to start softening up, and for the garlic to get fragrant.
Then add in the thyme, pepper, and tomato paste. Stir and cook the mixture for another minute or so.
6. Now we are ready to add in the chopped cabbage, sliced carrots, bay leaf, and broth. Stir the cabbage and sausage soup together, and press down any carrot or cabbage pieces so everything is submerged in the liquid.
7. Turn the heat up to bring the soup to a simmer. Let the cabbage soup simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cabbages and carrots are tender.
When the soup is ready, turn off the heat. Taste the soup and if it needs it, you can season with salt and/or more black pepper to taste.
Storage and reheating instructions
- Once the soup has cooled down, you can store it in the fridge in an airtight food storage container for 3 - 4 days.
- This cabbage and kielbasa soup also freezes well. Although, please be aware that the carrots and cabbage will have a softer texture after freezing.
- To freeze the soup, let it first cool down, then place it into an airtight food storage container. Allow some head room at the top of the container since the liquid will expand as it freezes. The soup will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Since this soup has no dairy, it's very easy to reheat (no need to reheat on super-duper low heat, like my recipe for creamy hamburger potato soup!).
- To reheat from the fridge, you can just microwave a single serving in a microwave-safe bowl for a few minutes on high, stirring after each minute of cook time, until hot. Or, reheat it in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until hot.
- To reheat from the freezer, allow the soup to partially thaw in the fridge overnight, then follow the reheating instructions above.
Recipe additions and substitutions
This sausage and cabbage soup is wonderful because it's not at all fussy. You can add or swap ingredients at will! Here are some recipe addition and substitution ideas for you to try:
- Along with the carrots and cabbage, try adding in some sliced celery, or any other type of hearty veggie you like, such as broccoli, cauliflower, or potatoes.
- For extra protein and fiber, you can add in a can of drained white beans during the last few minutes of cooking.
- Feel free to add any additional spices that you enjoy. Try dried basil, dried oregano, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, or cayenne powder.
- This soup recipe uses tomato paste to add depth of flavor and some body to the soup broth. But, for even more tomato flavor, try adding in a can of diced tomatoes along with the broth.
- Even though this sausage and cabbage soup recipe uses kielbasa, you can make this soup with any type of smoked or fresh sausage you have on hand. (See the next bullet point on how to sub fresh sausage!)
- If using fresh (not already cooked) sausage, remove the casing before browning it in the butter, breaking it up into chunks with a wooden spoon as it cooks. If there is a lot of excess grease after browning, drain some of it away before adding the onions and garlic.
- Feel free to use neutral cooking oil instead of butter to brown the sausages (such as avocado or vegetable oil).
Tips and tricks
- To bring the soup to a simmer more quickly, you can add a lid to the pot. But, once the soup is simmering, remove the lid and allow the soup to simmer uncovered for the remaining time.
- If you happen to be using an especially large diameter carrot, cut it in half lengthwise before slicing it. This will help it cook more quickly and evenly.
- This recipe doesn't call for added salt until the very end. That's because the kielbasa and broth are already salty, so you may only need a little bit. If you want to reduce the sodium even further, you can use low-sodium broth (or homemade broth).
This cabbage soup with sausage can be served for either lunch or dinner, paired with a sandwich, wrap, green salad, and/or a side of hearty crusty bread. This soup would also taste great garnished with croutons, crackers, a sprinkling of fresh herbs, and/or freshly-cracked black pepper.
Yes you can! Broth-based soups like this cabbage soup freeze and reheat very well. But, just be aware that the cabbage and other vegetables will have a softer texture after the soup is frozen and thawed. Cabbage soup will freeze well for up to 3 months if stored in an airtight container.
There are no ingredients in this soup that inherently have gluten, such as flour. However, if you need to be sure the soup is 100% gluten free, you should always check all the package ingredients you are using, or look up the brands online, to make sure they are listed as gluten free. (Sometimes there can be issues with cross-contamination, even with products that don't seem like they would contain gluten.)
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Cabbage and Sausage Soup
This cabbage kielbasa soup is hearty but not too heavy, and full of flavor from garlic, onion, thyme, and bay leaf. It's a wonderful stress-free weeknight lunch or dinner, and it freezes and reheats well, making it great for meal prep!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: main course, entree
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: American
- 2 pounds (907 g) green cabbage (about ½ large or 1 small cabbage)
- 1 large onion (or 2 small onions)
- 3 carrots
- 1 package smoked kielbasa sausage (12 - 14 ounces/304 - 397 g)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons (28 g) butter
- 2 tablespoons (33 g) tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 cups (1.9 L) beef or chicken broth
- salt, to taste
- Prep the produce: Remove the tough outer leaves and cut out the core from the cabbage. Chop the cabbage into bite-sized pieces. Chop the onion. Peel and slice the carrots. Finely chop the garlic. Set veggies aside.
- Slice the kielbasa on an angle, into about ⅓ inch (8.5 mm) thick slices. Set aside.
- Add the butter to a large Dutch oven or soup pot set over medium heat. When the butter is foamy, add the sliced kielbasa and spread it out evenly in the pot. Cook the kielbasa for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring only once or twice, to allow a brown crust to form on the outside of the sausage.
- When the kielbasa is browned, add the chopped onion and garlic to the pot. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the tomato paste, dried thyme, and black pepper to the pot. Stir and continue to cook for 1 minute.
- Add the chopped cabbage, sliced carrots, bay leaf, and broth to the pot. Stir the soup to combine, and press down the cabbage and carrots so they are submerged in the liquid. Turn the heat up to quickly bring the soup to a simmer. Allow the soup to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the carrots and cabbage are tender, about 15 - 20 minutes. During this time, you can adjust the heat as needed to maintain the simmer. If too much liquid is evaporating during cooking, you can add some water to the soup as needed.
- When the cabbage and carrots are tender, turn off the heat. Taste the soup and add salt and/or more black pepper to taste.
- Salt is only added at the end because the broth and kielbasa are already salty. The amount of salt needed will vary based on the broth you are using and your own tastes! To reduce the sodium in the soup further, you can substitute low-sodium broth.
- To bring the soup to a simmer more quickly, you can add a lid to the pot. But, once the soup is simmering, remove the lid and allow the soup to simmer, uncovered, for the remaining time.
- This soup can be stored in the fridge for 3 - 4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. To freeze the soup, first let it cool, then freeze it in an airtight food storage container, leaving enough head room at the top to allow the liquid to expand as it freezes.
The nutrition information below is an estimate only; the nutrition counts of your dish will vary based on the brands and exact amounts of ingredients used. This information was provided by an online nutrition calculator, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full nutrition disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: ⅛ recipe
- Calories: 226
- Sugar: 9.3 g
- Sodium: 1008 mg
- Fat: 15.2 g
- Saturated Fat: 6.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 15 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 9 g
- Cholesterol: 36 mg
Keywords: cabbage and sausage soup, cabbage kielbasa soup