Armenian cabbage soup

Cabbage Soup
What comes to mind when you think of cabbage?

Coleslaw? Sauerkraut? Cabbage rolls, stuffed cabbage, dolma?

I automatically think of soup – yes, cabbage soup. It’s easy to make, inexpensive, hearty, delicious, and a family favorite.

This was one of my mother-in-law’s Armenian recipes that was passed down to me when Doug and I got married.

Cabbage is low in sodium and calories, fat-free, a good source of Vitamin C, protein, fiber, carbohydrates, folate, iron, and calcium. So, what’s not to like?

There are different varieties of cabbage: savoy, green and red. This soup recipe uses the green variety, and to make things super-easy, green cabbage can be purchased already shredded, saving you time and energy.

The convenience of buying the pre-shredded type might cost you a bit more money, so decide what’s more important to you – time or money.

I think you’ll agree that this recipe will become one of your family-favorites, too!

Sylvia Kalajian’s Cabbage Soup
Yield: 4 to 5 servings


1 small onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
4 to 5 cups water
½ of 6-oz. can tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste -or- 1 to 2 bouillon cubes
¼ head of green cabbage, shredded – or- ½ bag of shredded cabbage
1- 15 oz can chick peas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup uncooked rice

1. In a large pot, brown the onions in oil or butter.
2. Add 4 cups of water; stir in the tomato paste; add salt and pepper – or bouillon.
3. Stir in the rice, shredded cabbage and chick peas.
4. Cook, with pot lid tilted, until the cabbage and rice are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.
5. Add more water, as needed, during cooking.
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  1. Bonnie October 24, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    This sounds so good, Robyn. Another vegetarian dish hearty enough to be an entree for us to try out.

  2. Ani January 27, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    This sounds so good I will make this today. I am surprised that this recipe does not have lemon juice in it. In my family we squeeze fresh lemons in almost every type of soup. My daughters will not eat soup without lemon. I guess it's an Armenian way of doing soup! Love all your recipes.

  3. Robyn January 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    You're right, Ani. Lemon juice is the perfect complement to this soup. A great tip. Thanks!

  4. Ara March 1, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Wonder if you can make this with bulgur instead of rice. I bet if you used the #4 (coarse) bulgur it would be good. Also, I suppose you can use other leafy vegetables besides cabbage: spinach, swiss chard, etc. But I like the basic recipe; it's very balanced. The chick peas provide protein, the rice provides some carbs, and the cabbage provides whatever cabbage provides (minerals, vitamin XYZ… 🙂

  5. Robyn March 2, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Absolutely, Ara. Bulgur, other leafy greens would be a welcomed addition – or substitution.

  6. Dean Wardlow July 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Can I replace the cabbage with squash & or zuchini? AND add lamb on the bone while it cooks?

  7. Robyn July 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Dean, Now you're talking about a long-cooking, totally different soup with the addition of lamb on the bone, and removal of the cabbage.
    In this case, start with the lamb and cold water. Bring this to a boil, remove scum from the top. Reduce heat to a simmer & let the lamb cook until tender (about an hour). Pull the meat off the bone when cool enough to handle. Strain the cooking liquid to remove any unwanted particles and excess fat. This stock will be a flavorful base for the soup. Once the stock is prepared and lamb is on hand, then saute the onions, add the tomato paste, seasonings, vegetable(s) of choice, rice or bulgur, and chick peas. Adjust the liquid level as needed with the addition of water. Zucchini doesn't take long to cook, so you might want to add it last. Sounds like a hearty soup-stew! Let me know how it turns out if you choose to try this.

  8. Dean Wardlow July 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Well I did it my way. It's very close to how I remember it, but not the same.It was however god. Closest Ive come was from a place in West Paterson called King Kabob. Stringbean soup.

  9. Robyn July 18, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    For sure, Dean. String beans and lamb are a perfect combination; that was one of our staple winter meals.
    You mentioned West Paterson (NJ)… small world, I'm from Clifton!

  10. Anonymous September 24, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks for the recipe I used barley instead of rice. Cubes, can they be vegetable or beef? B. Bilge'

    1. Robyn Kalajian September 24, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      Bouillon cubes can be beef, chicken, vegetable. It's your choice – enjoy!

  11. Denise February 15, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    So easy and so good! One of those recipes that tastes like more than the sum of its parts. I first made this in 2014 and it has become a wintertime staple. I usually use brown rice or barley and increase the cooking time to 1 hour.


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