This spicy cabbage soup is packed with vegetables, and can be made with ground beef, or as a hearty vegetarian soup!

Simmer it all day in the slow cooker, or make it a quick weeknight meal on the stovetop. 

close up of spicy cabbage soup in a white bowl with fresh herbs

about this spicy cabbage soup recipe

Can I just say that I think cabbage is one of the most underrated vegetables out there?

I know kale gets all the hype these days but I personally love cooking with cabbage!

It’s packed with nutrients, is generally inexpensive, easy to find in almost any grocery store, and cooks down into a silky, luscious texture.

Plus it pairs well with lots of other ingredients – making it just the thing to add to hearty veggie-loaded soups like this one.

And don’t let the ingredient list fool you.

It may look simple at a glance, but the rich tomato broth is so flavorful (and tastes like one of those soups that took you all day to make)!

top down view of ingredients for spicy cabbage soup in a black crockpot

process & tips

After you quickly saute the ground beef, this is a very straightforward & hands-off recipe.

Like many of my recipes, I’ve kept the prep on this soup super minimal and with a sharp knife, you’ll be able to chop and drop everything else into the pot in no time.

As written the soup is deliciously spicy (I love how warming the broth is!) but I’ve included lots of customization options for you below so you can make it work for any palate. 

Including how to adjust the spice level up or down, how to make an easy vegetarian version, and how to add extra veggies (like potatoes).

It’s totally up to you if you want to cook it on the high or low slow cooker setting! I’ve included directions for both (plus a stovetop version) below to keep your options open on busy weeks.

shredded cabbage and other soup ingredients mixed together in a black crockpot

how to make spicy cabbage soup with sausage

If you’d prefer to make this soup with sausage instead of the ground beef, it’s a really easy swap.

Simply skip the browning step and add in 1 lb of uncured polish beef sausage, sliced into rounds in place of the ground beef. 

Then proceed with the recipe as written.

If you’d like to use ground (bulk) sausage, use either spicy or sweet Italian sausage (removed from the casing in necessary) in place of the ground beef

how to make spicy vegetarian cabbage soup

This recipe is equally delicious without the beef, so if you want to make this a meatless meal that’s a great option.

If you’d like to bump up the plant protein in the vegetarian option, use 1-2 cans of drained and rinsed white beans in place of the beef.

White beans are creamy, hearty and definitely add some extra protein in this vegetarian version.

or make cabbage soup with potatoes

This soup is very low carb as written, but potatoes do make an excellent addition!

If you’re a potato lover, or want to make it extra heaty, feel free to add 1 cup chopped waxy yellow potato along with the other vegetables before cooking.

black slow cooker pot filled with soup on a white background

how to customize the spice level

As written, this soup is quite spicy, at least we though so in our family.

It definitely depends on the spice level of the tomatoes and chilis you’re using, as well as the red pepper flakes (yes, they can both vary in terms of heat)! 

If you are sensitive to heat, I’d suggest leaving out the red pepper flakes altogether, and using regular diced tomatoes (instead of tomatoes with green chilis). 

This will make for a very mild soup, and you can always top with red pepper flakes or ground pepper at the end for a tiny bit of heat.

For medium heat, skip the red pepper flakes, or reduce to ¼ teaspoon, and use tomatoes with green chilis.

And if you’re looking for an even spicier option, you can always add more red pepper flakes into the soup, or finish with the hot sauce of your choice.

what to serve with spicy cabbage soup

For me one of the most fun parts about a homemade soup is having total freedom to get creative and add any toppings you like!

We served this soup with cooked jasmine rice stirred in and with a generous dollop of sour cream on top (I love how the sour cream balances the heat from the red pepper flakes).

But it would also be delicious with some cooked pasta in place of the rice or warm crusty bread or one-bowl cornbread muffins on the side for dipping.

ladle full of spicy cabbage soup being dished out of a black slow cooker

ingredients & modifications

Ground beef: I used lean grass-fed, ground beef for this recipe but you could use regular ground beef too, or try it with bulk ground sausage.

Onion: Onions add so much flavor to this dish. But if you don’t like or can’t eat onions, feel free to skip them in this recipe.

Red bell pepper: I used red bell pepper but you could also use orange or yellow bell peppers if you like.

Carrots: Whole, chopped carrots yield the best flavor for this soup.

Celery: Chopped fresh celery works best in this recipe.

Green cabbage: I used green cabbage for this recipe but you could also use purple cabbage in its place, just keep in mind that it may change the color of your broth.

Diced fire roasted tomatoes with green chilis: You can also use regular diced fire roasted tomatoes for less heat.

Red pepper flakes: I love a little spice in this soup, but you can omit them if you’re serving this to someone who is more sensitive to heat. Or reduce the amount used for a more medium heat soup.

Vegetable stock: Be sure to use vegetable stock if you’re making the vegetarian version. Otherwise, you can use any homemade stock or bone broth you like (including beef, turkey or chicken stock) in place of the vegetable stock.

Garlic powder: Granulated garlic powder works great in this recipe, but you can use fresh garlic if you prefer.

Kosher salt: Look for kosher salt with the regular iodized salt at the grocery store (it has a subtler flavor). Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.

a white bowl filled with soup and fresh herbs with a blue napkin on a white table

how to store & freeze leftovers

This healthy cabbage soup tastes great the next day, and leftovers make a great lunch!

It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, in a sealed container.

This soup also freezes beautifully, either in a gallon ziplock bag, or individually in mason jars.

You can store it in a sealed freezer friendly container for up to 2-3 months.

more slow cooker ground beef recipes

Slow Cooker Hamburger Soup

Crock Pot Taco Meat

Spicy Cabbage Soup

Mexican-Inspired Shredded Beef

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

Beef Minestrone Soup with Instant Pot + Slow Cooker Instructions

Slow Cooker Easy Beef and Bean Chili

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ladle full of spicy cabbage soup being dished out of a black slow cooker
5 stars (5 ratings)

Spicy Cabbage Soup

This spicy cabbage soup is packed with vegetables and can be made with ground beef or vegetarian, and can be made in the slow cooker or on the stovetop.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef, omit for vegetarian and vegan
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 small green cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
  • 2 15 ounce cans diced fire roasted tomatoes with green chilis, or regular diced fire roasted tomatoes for less heat
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, omit for less heat
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 quart vegetable stock

Optional serving suggestions

  • crusty bread, cooked rice, sour cream

Instructions 

Slow Cooker Instructions

  • If adding beef, heat a medium pot over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the ground beef, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and break apart with a wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink, stirring occasionally.
  • To a 6-quart slow cooker, add the onion, bell pepper, celery, carrots, cabbage, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, stock, and cooked ground beef (if using).
  • Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or 7-8 on low, or until the vegetables are very tender. Do not remove the lid during this time.
  • Uncover, stir, and taste, adding additional salt or red pepper flakes if desired.

Stovetop Instructions

  • If adding beef, heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ground beef, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and break apart with a wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the onion and cook an additional 1-2 minutes to soften. Add the bell pepper, celery, carrots, cabbage, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, and stock, stirring to combine.
  • Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer on low, covered, for 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Uncover, stir, and taste, adding additional salt or red pepper flakes if desired

Notes

As written, this soup is quite spicy. If you are sensitive to heat, leave out the red pepper flakes and use regular diced tomatoes (instead of tomatoes with green chilis). 
For medium heat, skip the red pepper flakes, or reduce to ¼ teaspoon, and use tomatoes with green chilis.
Don’t be concerned if the cabbage fills most of the slow cooker. It will cook down significantly during the cooking process.
Nutrition information calculated for the soup with beef added.
For more ingredients & substitutions, see blog post above.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 180kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 498mg, Potassium: 720mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 4616IU, Vitamin C: 90mg, Calcium: 88mg, Iron: 3mg
Nutrition disclaimer
Did you make this recipe?If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

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