Shuna introduced me to this soup. I think it was July 2007 and she’d gathered a bunch of food bloggers at Veselka, a Ukranian diner in the East Village famous for serving awesome beer-blotting food like borsht, stuffed cabbage and pierogis around the clock. It was hot and humid out, however, so the thought of anything besides a grilled kielbasa, pickles and a cold beer seemed insane, and yet there was our host, ordering cabbage soup.
I thought this Eggbeater was insane. Who eats soup in the summer? But Shuna insisted I try at least a spoonful, and that sip did me in. I spent the rest of July craving move and finally caved in August, sitting in that cafe eating steaming hot soup on a steaming hot day because it was the best thing, ever.
This is no flat but earnest cabbage soup. It is cooked with a mix of chicken broth and cubes of fatty pork, then not just cabbage, but sauerkraut and then extra “juice” at the end to punch it up. It’s the kind of thing you’d eat every day of the shivery winter, if Veselka weren’t a cruel 1.7 miles across and then downtown, which feels even longer the colder it gets.
So you can imagine how out of my mind overjoyed I was when New York Magazine ran Veselka’s recipe for cabbage soup — that cabbage soup — a couple weeks ago. And although I considered not posting today at all — on this last day of November — just to be a punk, the fact is, this is what we had for dinner and I aim to share. You know, right before I take a nap for all of December.
One year ago: Fennel Ice Cream
Veselka’s Cabbage Soup
Courtesy of NYMag
Serves 6 to 8
1 pound pork butt, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
4 cups water
3 allspice berries
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 cup sauerkraut, plus around 4 tablespoons juice
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, minced
3 stalks celery, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 cups fresh cabbage, shredded thin
Place the pork in a medium stockpot with the chicken stock, water, allspice, bay leaves, and marjoram. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for about 2 hours. Remove the pork and set aside on a plate to cool. Skim fat from stock, leaving a few “eyes” of fat for flavor.
Add sauerkraut and simmer for 20 minutes. Add potato and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and cabbage and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pork and simmer for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add sauerkraut juice.
Note: This recipe got some fresh photos in 2021, thank goodness.
152 comments on veselka’s cabbage soup
I’m dying to try sauerkraut in a soup – sounds so intriguing!
I love Veselka’s and this soup is amazing! Great choice!
i will miss your daily posting next month! i can’t believe NaBloPoMo is over already!
wow, Veselka’s was my favourite food place in NYC when I visited a couple of years ago. Just two blocks from where I was staying, I spent a lot of time there eating and people watching. Will have to make your soup!
The pierogis are delicious but i think the soups are really where it’s at when it comes to veselka. their split pea is great as is the borscht. How i’ve never tried the cabbage soup is beyond me–i love all things cabbage. Think I might have to take a detour there some time this week….
I knew it had to have craut! You’re really rockin’ the cabbage lately too.
I have to say, I am very said November is over. I looked quite forward to opening google reader to see Smitten Kitchen’s newest post. I had a tonsillectomy 10 days ago and have been living off apple sauce and mashed potatoes since then (when I’m not bleeding, you know) and my only saving grace has been marking down all my favourite recipes on your websites that I plan to make and eat all of, when I can finally eat something that is more substantial than puree. Thank you for all the unbelievably delicious recipes you’ve posted with pictures that certainly do not hurt the cause…
Thanks! I look forward to it. We made our first borscht today, and it was fantastic! None of that gaggy beet taste (which reminds us of dirt) – just delicious flavors, colors and aromas.
My heart jumped a little when I pulled up your page and saw Veselka in the title of the post. Just last week I searched the web over for a recipe for their awesome borscht. Sadly, I couldn’t find one, but I am sure this is fabulous. I just wish the borscht recipe were out in print, too!
Veselka Borscht: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/veselkas-famous-borscht (i know this is an old comment)
Thank you for responding to the old comment, this was useful for me!
I have a Russian Cabbage Soup recipe that I love which is beef broth based with bits of brisket in it and a few raisins for the occasional sweet note against the savory. I’ve wanted a chicken broth based cabbage soup with some special kick as well. Sauerkraut added to this one for a tangy note sounds like a combo I would love. Thanks, I’m look forward to trying this soon!
Veselka! I haven’t thought about it in years – I went to college in Manhattan and it was a favorite spot. Thanks for the recipe!
sounds and looks delish! Definitely will try this.
Yay! You made it! Thanks for all the GREAT posting this month. And the soup looks like warm yum yum goodness.
You made it through NaBloPoMo like a champ! Congratulations! I think we’ve all been completely spoiled by this past month. Even though you’re probably wiped out enough from daily posting to nap through December, I (for one) can’t wait to read your next post, whenever you’re able to muster the energy to cook/post/photograph again. Thank you!
I, too, loved all the November postings. I wish NaBloPoMo was NaBloPoYear! But that’d probably be hell. Anyway, I’m delurking to ask if I might be able to make this soup with beef and beef broth. Would it overpower the flavor of other things? And if it would work, what sort of cut of beef should I use? Many thanks!!
I found the name Veselka very funny:). I am originally from former Yugoslavia, and there is such a name reserved only for 100+ years old grannies:) I didn’t hear it for ages:)…
The soup is, no doubt, very tasty (I like such a kind of food).
This looks delicious but could it possibly be made without the meat?
Hello! Veselka delivers
My heritage is Polish but when we visited NYC (from Sydney) on our honeymoon we were drawn to Veselka as an option for a jetlagged very early breakfast. I had the beetroot soup at 7am then but this option looks just as good. Can’t wait to try it in our miniscule kitchen… :)
Is there a way to omit the pork for all chicken and not lose so much of the punch in this soup?
That looks amazing! Can you use turkey instead of pork and get the same flavor? I guess I can just try it and see…
I have taken the day off work with a horrible cold and cough, wish someone would deliver a bowl of this to me across the Atlantic! Congratulations on finishing NaBloPoMo, I managed but only just so your dedication will be my model next year.
My Baba used to make this soup – so yummy! It’s the Ukranian version of hot and sour soup if you think about it.
My baba’s trick was to make hers with homemade sauerkraut (kapusta in Ukranian), too.
Too funny, I made my mom’s cabbage soup yesterday because the weather was just frightful. And it was delicious! Yours looks so good and hearty!!
Oh, that looks like exactly what I want right this minute. At 9 am. Heh heh.
This soup sounds amazing and what a perfect way to end the month! Happy napping!
Your daily posts will be missed!
If I can get away from work to pick up the missing ingredients I will make this for supper for tonight. It sounds wonderful right now as it is something like 17 degrees here this morning!
I’m so glad you posted this recipe. I will soon be moving to Pennsylvania and will miss my visits to Veselka’s. I’m taking this recipe with me. I adore the Bigos there also. Thanks for sharing.
I just spent all Thanksgiving weekend eating tons of my grandma’s cabbage and noodles, so while everyone else is turkeyed out, I’m cabbaged out! :) Congrats on a great Nov – your post were amazing!!
Deb, this soup looks really good. Love the flavor combination
We just finished a pot of kapusta soup (european name) When mine is cooked, I add some sour cream to which I’ve added a couple spoons of browned flour. Just delicious.
Sauerkraut…what a great way to add not only veggies, but a lot of zing! I often struggle to find decent ingredients to add a touch of acidity to my soups, and plain old vinegar just isn’t doing it for me any more.
MMM! This sounds divine. It’s hard for me to cook meat since my live-in bf is a veg, but this might be too good to pass up. Am sure it wouldn’t be the same w/o the pork butt, am I right? (Please correct me if I’m wrong!)
Also, when I go in to a butcher or store to buy pork butt, is that how I ask for it?
Sounds like a meal at the Ukrainian Reading Hall here. Southern Manitoba is strongly Ukrainian and when their comunity centre does a celebratory feast it’s a wonder to behold.
This looks delicious! I would brown the meat before adding the broth and other ingredients for extra flavor. Yum! I heard December is the new NaBloPoMo, by the way, so I hope we’ll continue to hear from you daily!
oh how i miss vaselka. now if only i could find the borscht recipe!
Now I am craving soup. I will try this one for sure!
Once again you’ve read my mind – I googled “cabbage soup recipe” just last week. How fortuitous that all the results were cabbage soup diet recipes so the massive cabbage remains in the fridge untouched. I hope it hasn’t wilted to a rotten lump behind the huge pot full of turkey carcass and stock!
I love you everyhting you do is seasonal – a true inspiration!
I love your blog! I’ve sent it to my daughters, because I get such a kick out of the way you write, and of course for the recipes.
Enjoyed your NaBloPoMo in November. Been lurking here for over a year, and can’t believe it!
Anyhoo, do you think that turkey could be used in this recipe instead of pork? I seem to have some around…;-)
hmmm… that soup looks good, but I’m not too fond of sauerkraut. Is it a very strong flavour in the soup?
Whoops! I meant could I use turkey instead of chicken?
Wow, this sounds wonderful, Deb. Perfect timing too—it’s snowy and cold in Chicago. I’m wondering if browning the pork a little—and maybe the onion, celery and carrots in the resulting fat—might even up the soup’s stick-to-your-ribs quality a little.
Oh, and I totally forgot. I love the Staub pot! We have the oval La Cocotte, also in blue. It’s wonderful.
I absolutely, positively need this soup in my life. Bless you!
I love sauerkraut and that soup sounds so good & hearty! Mmmm! :)
This looks wonderful.
Susan, I have been looking for a Russian Cabbage soup recipe ever since I worked in a department store where the restaurant served it. Would you mind sharing? lynns at dslextreme dot com
I make a quick version of this using beef polska kielbasa instead of the pork butt. I also add a can of diced tomatoes, and one of cannelini beans. Delish.
That looks heavenly – I am not waiting until August to try it though!
I always get the chicken soup at Veselka, will have to try this!
Eek! Veselka, one of my college-year haunts! Thank you for the memories and awesome recipe!!
wow – sounds like the perfect winter dish!
I live in San Francisco but I often think of Veselka’s Cabbage Soup- and their many other comforting treats…I’ve been in a soup mood lately and this looks like the next one on my list.
Cabbage soup… yum. I also made some sauerkraut this fall when the cabbage was fresh from the farmer. This will be another good use for the kraut- perfect!
This soup is called schii… it’s one of my favorites. I make mine with a big hunk of bone-in pork – the pork broth is delicious!
I’m giving this a try today. Smells wonderful. But just to digress, what about Leshko’s, on the corner of 7th and Ave. A? I loved the Polish waitresses there back in the 80’s. Brillo-y yellow hair. Blue eyeshadow and weird plastic shoes. “Hey, I like your shoes? Whereja get ’em?” Deadpan reply: “Een Poland.” I’d order the pierogi. Blue eyeshadow would show its full glory as she would cast her eyes toward the order pad. “You vant dat boilt or friet?”
This looks amazing! Do you think it would freeze well?
Mmm I love cabage soup and this one sounds really yummy:)
I can remember spending many a frigid weekend afternoon eating soup and challah at Veselka and the Ukrainian Diner down the street. (Are the foul-mouthed and foul-tempered waitresses still there–they certainly made for an interesting dining experience!) I am looking forward to trying this recipe, and while it doesn’t often get all that “frigid” out here on the West Coast, I may just throw the bowls down on the table and shout out some expletives while we eat…just for old times’ sake.
I made a version of this tonight with what I had on hand: bacon, sauerkraut but no cabbage, and white beans. It was delicious! Thanks for the inspiration!
Whenever I see cabbage soup or boiled cabbage I think back to the days when cabbage was boiled to the point of bland, limp and lifeless leaves. I’m slowing starting to like cabbage again, when cooked properly.
Hey, that’s schi–Russian sauerkraut soup! I’m so making this tonight. Thanks for the recipe–I’ve been looking for a good one.
This looks absolutely wonderful! My hubby doesn’t eat sauerkraut, but if I hide it in soup like this he may give it a try.
I can’t wait to make this!
Deb, do you think it’s worth the attempt of trying to make it vegetarian (w/veg stock) or it would totally miss out the point/flavor of the soup?
I love veselka and love cabbage soup but I’m afraid that the role of the pork is too central in this recipe and I’ll be disappointed.
I made this the other night and can’t stop with the leftovers! So delicious! I’ve never been one for soups/soup making (never even tried this soup at Veselka!) but the recipe looked so good I couldn’t resist. And how can anyone say no sauerkraut?! So perfect for the increasingly bone chilling weather here in NYC.
HOLY CRAP that was awesome, thanks. Big fan.
used a 2 3/4 lb shoulder roast, so nearly tripled the recipe. as terry b. suggested, i browned the pork, sauteed the aromatics in the fat (with an extra splash of veg. oil), and simmered them all in the broth. added the sauerkraut an hour before serving, the potato and cabbage both a half hour before serving, and the sauerkraut juice just before serving. it’s a great soup. dunno why someone would want to throw away precious pork fat, especially in these lean times. surely they use it for something else at veselka?
Oh, that sounds so good! I have a recipe for a cabbage and potato soup that is similar. It’s one of my favorite soups.
I eat soup almost daily all year!
as i was seasoning the final batch i was thinking, “this soup doesn’t at all present itself as something overly delicious, nor does it really taste all that exciting. i’m surprised there’s not more sautéing and seasoning of vegetables involved.”
and then i scooped myself out a bowl. there’s something amazingly addicting about this soup, and while it may not seem impressive with one spoonful, it seemed to get better and better each time some went in my mouth. now i’m staring at the rest of the pot, wondering if i should just down it all now, or at least attempt to save some for the rest of the week….
I made this soup and it is wonderful. We added a little salt at the table. I used homemade chicken stock that I had in the freezer and I must have taken it easy on the salt when I made it. Great soup for a cold winter day!
I finally got around to making this soup. It is fantastic. You are right, it is not your ordinary cabbage soup. It is bright and flavorful and awesome. I am going to get some salted rye rolls and have them with the soup tonight. The downside of cabbage soup is that the house smells like my gym bag!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe.
I have made several of your recipes but I have yet to post. I made this on Sunday and it has been great. It was better yesterday than on Sunday and it is perfect for all of the snow that we are getting here in New Mexico.
I’ll have to try this soon. Last week I blogged about two soups I made with leftovers and pantry items. I added a little lacto-fermented sauerkraut (which is worlds better than the vinegar pickled stuff) and it just made both soups pop. It just brightened all the other ingredients and added such a great crunch. Can’t wait to make this.
Just realized my blog didn’t auto-type correctly, for anyone who wants to check out my kraut-y soups.
This is delish! I must have been a little spacey when I made it, because I made two mistakes. First, I forgot to remove the pork and just left it in the pot the entire time. It totally fell apart in the soup, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Second, I accidentally added way too much cabbage. I caught myself and removed some, but still ended up with much more than 2 cups. The soup was still fantastic. I love recipes that I can totally mess up and still taste great! This one is definitely a keeper. My husband raved about it. Thanks for another fabulous recipe. I’m going to use the leftover sauerkraut for bratwurst with sauerkraut, apples, and onions (from epicurious- another fantastic recipe I’ve made many times).
Ok…so this might be more along the lines of fan mail rather than a comment…but who cares. I am addicted to your site. This isn’t an exaggeration! I check it everyday for new posts, and I think I’ve gone through all the old ones. I just made this soup last night (DELICIOUS, and super comforting!) with some no-knead bread! I’ve made the chili (oh my lord), the bretzel rolls (I am now making double batches to keep up with demand!), the brown butter cookies, the Russian appetizer spread, the mussels…and this is just recently. You’re an inspiration, don’t stop blogging EVER.
Oh god, I’m a super fan.
I made this over the weekend and it’s a winner. As luck would have it I wound up getting sick so it really hit the spot. I didn’t season the pork butt though and next time I will. I love your blog and have tried a couple of your recipes. I hope to do a lot more cooking and experimenting this year and am looking forward to what you’ll be making. You’ve definitely got skillz!
it’s 86 F here in Iowa. i just made this perfect slurpy soup. it was divine. made more delicious with a sprinkle of diced apple. :-)
hi there – found a link to this recipe for the kind of borscht they serve at Veselka’s. I absolutely love that place and make a point to go there for lunch at least once every month. I will be sure to try the cabbage soup recipe as well since it sounds amazing. Enjoy!
Hi! I’ve never been to Veselka, but this super-tasty soup was warming to body and soul on a gray, cold Wisconsin day recently. Thanks! I just thought you’d like to know about a recent New york Times article on Veselka (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/dining/06soup.html?pagewanted=2&sq=veselka&st=cse&scp=1), with links to a few different recipes on there, including a Christmas version of the borscht that other posters seem to be so fond of. What makes it Christmasy? Who knows? I’ve never even had the original :(. But it looks delicious!
I was in NYC this weekend (visiting from the West coast) and we tried to go to Veselka for lunch. I had this uncanny feeling/hope of running into you there, Deb, but alas, after the New York Times write-up it looked like a movie premiere outside that place! So we went to the other little Ukrainian place next door, the one that looks like a community center. Also quite tasty.
I recently had lunch at Veselka and am here to say it is one of the most fabulous eaterys around. Thank you so much for this receipe and an opportunity to whip up a little V myself.
I’ve never been to Veselka’s… but gosh this soup is good! I am cooking half way around the world in Sydney so don’t like my chances of getting to Veselka’s anytime soon. This was my first try at a recipe from your awesome blog and I’m hooked…. What to try next??? So many options
Recently made my first trek to Veselka (Christmas Borscht = vegetarian heaven) and was wondering about making this cabbage soup recipe meat-free. I have good stock to substitute but wonder what to do about the no-pork factor. Just leave it out? What about replacing the fat? Any suggestions so appreciated! Would love to try this given that winter has firmly arrived here in the northeast!
I love your web site. This is my first post, but I’ve been enjoying your blog for quite some time now. I made this soup tonight – Awsome. Great for a cold day in the midwest. My husband is standing over the stove now wanting more…..
Wow, this is really F-ing good! Is that “smitten kitchen” appropriate to say? I cannot wait for my (Ukranian) husband to try this!
I had dinner at Veselka last Friday and everything was awesomely good. We’re (finally) getting snow here in D.C. and I’ve got a pot of cabbage soup going for dinner. If only I had some pierogis too.
I’ve been dying to try Veselka’s ever since I saw it in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Since I’m in San Francisco, this proves difficult. This weekend, I had an insatiable craving for cabbage soup and as I’m 14 weeks prego, when I want something, there’s very little that can actually keep me from it (short of another, stronger craving). So in this recipe, I had the opportunity to kill to birds with one stone. perfect.
So I made it. I followed each direction to the letter – it was phenomenal. So savory, so balanced and full. I tried a little taste before adding the saurkrout juice and the juice REALLY rounds it out and kicks it up.
Even the hubby LOVED it and he’s, for the most part, a little over my incessant soup-making.
I made this soup for the first time tonight and it is so amazing! Thankyou, thankyou for posting this recipe!!
Veselka’s is my FAVORITE restaurant in that area !! My boyfriend & I both come from Russian/Ukrainian families, and when we visit NYC, we always make sure to stop there. YUM.
Hi Deb! I’ve been an avid reader of your blog; it’s always my go-to site when I want to make something new and delicious. I’ve just moved to Ukraine (I’m in the Peace Corps, and will be here for two years) and have been skimming Smitten Kitchen to find recipes to utilize all that Ukrainian summer has to offer (strawberries were here for a full two weeks, and I’ve never tasted anything like them in the US), cabbage included. And look! A Ukrainian recipe on my favorite food blog! It’s just too perfect. And, having lived three months with a host family, I can say that this looks pretty authentic. Thanks!
Made without pork, sautéed vegetables first, used an embarrassingly small amount of pork stock for the huge amount of vegetables. It’s delicious.
Just made this today. I spent a year and a half in Ukraine and this brought back good memories. I made it with stew meat (since that is what I had on hand) and added a dollop of homemade cultured cream. It was awesome. Thanks again!
Straight out of the pot, meh. Reheated the next day, YUM. Reminds me of a Latvian soup, Skabenu Zupa, Sorrel Soup, that I love. We add a dollop of sour cream if we feel like it, too.
I came to this recipe because of a comment to the chicken noodle soup recipe. I don’t know how I missed this, but it’s on my short list of things to make.
Regarding one of the earlier questions, yes, I always make this with a pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of pork. Several people have said it’s the best “chicken soup” they ever had. I brown the chicken thighs and leave whole for the two hours’ simmering time. Then plate to coo and shred before adding back to the pot.
Delicious! I made this over the course of two days (how you cook so much with a toddler underfoot is beyond me!) and my husband, 16-month old, and I ate two generous servings each tonight for dinner. Loved it. I did add another half cup or so of sauerkraut and some extra juice at the end. We dig tanginess. :)
Thanks for the great recipe, as always! Really looking forward to getting your book in the mail!
i come from a background rich in russian/ukranian fare, and though i sadly didn’t pay enough attention to my mother’s recipes, i sometimes long for a little taste of home. so, thank you for this wonderful recipe! in true russian/ukranian style: do you have any recipe ideas for the skimmed-off fat? i’d hate to waste all that flavour!
Wow. This is easily one of the best soups I have ever made (and I do make a lot of soup!). The closest grocery stores were out (?!) of pork shoulder, so I made do with boneless pork ribs. They came through for me. I made homemade smoked turkey stock the other day with this year’s Thanksgiving turkey frame, and this soup was a wonderful way to use some of it up. I didn’t skim any fat; I actually added some fat (from the turkey stock), and the soup didn’t end up extra fatty at all. Amazing, addictive soup. I’ll be making this one again (but with more sauerkraut juice next time).
Why remove the pork to cool?
So it doesn’t overcook and because removing it makes it easier to skim the fat.
Hi Miss Deb, I was just wondering if it was possible to substitute the pork in this recipe with beef or lamb et al. And if it is, would this equal longer cooking time? Thank you for all incoming help. :D
I did not read the comment guidelines before posting (sorry) so I now see it can be done with chicken. Don’t mind the previous one. Thank you for the recipe though! :)
i’ve been making your recipes for a long time, but i never got around to posting! they’re all great, and definitely doable for a college student! this one is great, as well. i omitted the celery, marjoram, and allspice (college student lacking in funds) and used some leftover broth from an asian recipe, and the soup is great. thank you so much for posting all of these awesome recipes!
Made this the other night– so delicious! Couple things…
-With two hours of simmering with no lid, I found I needed to add another 2c liquid
-Why not sear off the pork and/or sweat the mirepoix? This would add depth of flavor, no? The order of these steps seemed so weird to me for some reason!
yet another recipe that has turned into a new favorite — this is a crave-worthy soup for sure!
the things i would do next time:
– leave a little more of the fat “eyes” than i did — i would have liked it just a bit richer than i ended up with.
– reserve some of the marjoram for after the skimming step, since i skimmed off most of it with the fat — it floats, too :(
– add a bit more liquid — we’re not done with the pot, but i suspect we will run out of broth before we run out of solid goodies– this is probably my own fault since i added almost a whole head of cabbage rather than just 2 cups.
– add salt a bit sooner to allow it to meld with the flavors (though i supposed that could be dangerous depending on how salty one’s sauerkraut brine is…
I also wondered, as did Ben in 105, why the mirepoix doesn’t get sauteed/sweated, but the flavor is great so i’m not “sweating” that one!
I am making this right now (just started, in fact) and my mouth is already watering. I lived in the East Village in the 1980’s, and don’t remember Veselka’s, but absolutely remember Leshko’s! Their cabbage soup, pierogis, and challah bread were the mainstays of my diet for many years. I always suspected that the basic stock for their cabbage soup had been on the stove for generations … how else could they achieve such savory deliciousness? Thank you so much for this recipe!
Got a question: When directions say to “simmer,” is that with or without a lid?
Ann, I recently made this and I’d say covered.
Thanks for a great simple recipe. The whole family loved it, double batches are a must!
Does this freeze well?
Chelsea — I haven’t frozen it but don’t see why it wouldn’t freeze okay.
i used celery root instead of celery and found that worked really well. i aslo had the heat on really low for the 2 hours of cooking the meat, it was below a simmer, more like steaming, for most of the 2 hours, and i found that my meat, cut into slightly larger chunks out of laziness (300 grams into 8 to 10 pieces) were still pink on the instead and incredibly tender. i attribute that to the meat being more or less poached instead of cooked.. anyway, really tasty
I just made this soup and WOW it is amazing! I only simmered it for 1 hour – as I couldn’t wait that long. Amazing! Thanks!
My husband and I just made this together for our soup lunches of the week, and it is AMAZING! It is now my favorite soup. Thank you for introducing this soup to your readers and thank you for being awesome!
Deb. Oh my gosh, Deb, can we talk about this? This is seriously so SO SO good.
Things I changed:
– I used pork chops because that’s all they had at the counter (unless I wanted to go for a 6lb round – which is too much for just me.)
– Pork Chops are a bit lean, but I didn’t have as much fat to skim; in fact, I didn’t skim at all.
– I used the bone from the pork chops too, just left it in there to simmer and it was delicious. Made the broth bone-brothy and all gelatinized.
– I simmered for about 3 hours total (one of the hours I thought was simmer, but the stove was actually set to “hot enough to burn, not hot enough to simmer”).
– Like some others, I added a bit more chix stock during the simmer process.
– I omitted the onions; not a fan usually.
– I found a small bit of sauerkraut on top of the soup to be absolutely perfect.
I can’t wait to make this again!
Thank you for sharing!!
This looks so amazing!! I am cooking a Russian-themed dinner tomorrow night and I have one vegetarian friend coming (dang her!). I know it won’t be the same, but do you think this soup would still be tasty with vegetable stock and no pork??
I’ll have to make it with all the fixings another night!
Made this without pork and used a vegetarian “chicken” base for the stock (Better than Bouillon). Was not very good. Sauerkraut gave it a very strong flavor which seemed unbalanced. I’m sure it is delicious with the pork, but I would not recommend making this soup without it!
I’ve made this like 4 or 5 times since my original comment and I still love it. (It comes down to once a week. I had to force myself to skip a week here and there so as to not completely over-do it.)
A couple more notes:
– I’ve been using 2 tblspoons of marjoram and its very good
– In the latest iterations, I’ve omitted the potatoes and onions completely and used those deep purple carrots. After about 20 minutes, the soup turns this deep orange-ish color and it looks like it’s been on the stove for HOURS (admittedly, it has, but only 20 minutes with the carrots) . When the soup is done, the carrots come out looking like normal orange carrots, not the deep purple. A lot of color have leeched out, which really means more beta-carotene, so I say more health :-)
– I’ve doubled and more the amount of cabbage in the soup. I found I really like the cabbage and have wanted more than the 2 cups called for in the recipe. I think I’m up to about 4 or so cups of cabbage (or however much will fit in the pot)
I forgot to mention I feel like a complete THUG when I make this soup.
It makes my house smell like cooking and I’m really not doing all that much. I sit on the couch with a good book while it’s simmering to, of course, “keep an eye on it”.
And some hours later, deliciousness happens! With very little input from me!
Cooking is like magic.
Because I am SCATTY in the brain today, I forgot to mention in the previous 2 posts that I had 2 huge jars of saurkraut that were languishing in the fridge. (My husband likes to buy saurkraut and then he forgets that he bought saurkraut and then buys more.) I was able to use up the 2 jars and I bought my own jar of saurkraut to continue this recipe.
Thanks for all the comments. I can’t to try this recipe now !
I made this last night with pork ribs instead of shoulder (I cut them into smaller pieces and boiled them with the bones, then pulled the meat off the bones while the potatoes were cooking and added it back. I loved it and so did everyone in my house! When I added the last round of vegetables I was worried it was too much for the pot, but after it had all cooked down for a while it was perfect. I also used a cube of chicken stock (I know, I know) instead of liquid because it was cheaper! This soup tasted like every bit of Eastern European magic I was hoping for. Thanks so much!
I lived near Veselka’s and had the soup often back in the seventies. I was so amazed to get a google result for this recipe. I had to make it today even though I was lacking some ingredients. My substitutions were as follows: used roast pork shoulder instead of raw pork butt. Omitted celery. Added 1 medium turnip, peeled and grated. Omitted sauerkraut and instead shredded about 3 or 4 cups of shredded fresh napa cabbage (using up leftovers) which I salted and drenched with hot white vinegar. Tossed cabbage and microwaved for 2 minutes and rinsed to get rid of salt. Changed order of cooking to: heat stock, add lightly pickled cabbage, onion, carrot, grated turnip, seasonings except marjoram which I didn’t have (substituted 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning). Waited to add potato and diced roast pork and cooked for about an hour by mistake, should have been a little less. Catering to my wife’s dislike of sauerkraut I didn’t add the white vinegar I would have otherwise. The soup came out delicious but meatier and less tangy than Veselka’s version. The carmelized bits of roast pork came across almost like roast turkey in the flavor. I realize now I should have just squeezed a quarter lime into my soup in the bowl. Oh well, there’s leftovers. Some lime and a little shredded cilantro would totally bastardize the recipe but would still be delicious.
Thanks for all the comments, I can’t wait to try out this recipe :) .
I’m so in love with this soup! I don’t change a thing and it’s divine.
Sounds like schi – famous soup in Russian-speaking countries. It can be prepared with fresh cabbage or sauerkaut, or both. Its great during cold months, especially when you are returning back home after the long walk and enjoying the soup.
Please have a look at my recipe of the cabbage soup:
It is really cold here in Berlin, Germany and this soup kept coming to mind. Even though I have been in bed for two days I managed to get the soup made this afternoon and we just had a proper meal for the first time in two days. I made it once last winter too. Figured it was time to tell Deb thank you for the great recipe.
This is my favorite soup. I’ve made this so many times that friends call it ‘my’ cabbage soup. I think this will be the soup recipe I’ll pass down to generations.
I like to shred the pork with my fingers and remove the fatty bits before returning it to the soup. I also add a few extra bay leaves, allspice berries and sauerkraut juice. I like the extra zip
Hi Deb! Do you think this recipe would be suitable for the instant pot?
I do but I haven’t tested it, sadly.
So, an “almost-1-year” update: I’m still obsessively making this soup, although I took a break over the summer. I finally started making this with the right type of pork (but only because it happened to be in my freezer; if I didn’t have it, I’d go back to the chops). Delicious either way! The first time I used a pork butt, it left some “protein scum” in the soup; it didn’t bother me, but I’ve started parboiling so it’s clearer. I’ve stuck to my modifications — no onions, potatoes, 2x carrots, celery, and however much cabbage I can fit in. Thanks so much!!
I love Veselka and I love this soup. Stepping in from a cold day into the warmth and bustle of Veselka is what New York dreams are made of. This was so delicious and satisfying. I was too lazy to seek out pork butt so I used 6 slices of thick bacon – it did the trick! I also squeezed in a tablespoon or two or tomato paste at the end because I felt like it needed a little something color-wise :) Thank you, Deb! This recipe is a keeper!
Three years in and I still love this soup. It’s the soup I want when “I want soup” and no other soup will do. In this time of nonsense and uncertainty, it’s very comforting to have this on the stove, perfuming my house with comfort.
Thank you again!
I love all of your comments on this recipe! But especially this last one, as I too am turning to this recipe for comfort in quarantine. An absolute winner. Sending good thoughts from Austin, TX.
Oh my gosh you are great
I’m looking everywhere for a borscht recipe, but you don’t have one! Eek! Any ideas?
It’s true — I dislike beets. Maybe I’ll write up my MIL’s this winter, anyway.
What are the toppings pictured?
Whoops, should have mentioned. Sour cream and parsley, although at the restaurant it’s just dill.
I know this is an old recipe post, but I just today made this soup and was delighted by the results. Never did I expect my not-vegetarian bacon-eating but weirdly Anti-Pork Husband to enjoy this. Nor did I think my tiny children would put something with sauerkraut in their picky mouths and exclaim “this is super good!” But here we are. The only change I made was that I used oregano (I didn’t have marjoram). I used Better Than Bouillon chicken broth and added a few extra allspice…nuggets? This is one of those meals where I wish my dad were still alive, because I know he’d love it.
Hi Deb! This is my first time commenting — I have been following and making your recipes off and on since 2008! Your candied grapefruit peels were the first thing I tried — or, so my Gmail account tells me. This soup has stuck with me over the years — I just made it again, for the first time this winter. It’s so comforting to return to it when the weather and the world feel cold. I usually add red chili flakes and it gives it a nice hot & sour effect. All the best!
I made this tonight and loved it! I forgot to take out the pork (used pork shoulder) and I think it was fine; it didn’t get too dry or tough. I’ll probably skip that step from now on unless I’m missing something subtle that would make this even better. I added extra carrot, potato, celery, and cabbage. This soup is very forgiving. And DELICIOUS!
Making this tonight!
This looks amazing. I’m a small town MT girl and my best friend and I did a week in NYC when I graduated college. Veselka was one of our destinations, since my friend had been in the Peace Corps in Ukraine and wanted to eat some Ukrainian food again (not something you encounter too often in small town Montana!). We had pierogis and borscht, I believe, and it was amazing. This soup also looks amazing, and I’m going to send the recipe to my friend!
I just did an Instant Pot hack of this recipe, and the results are delicious! I omitted the water and used 1.5 quarts of homemade chicken broth. In a separate pan, I sautéed the shallots (instead of onion) with four Applegate Farms organic uncured beef hotdogs, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Added a whole head of cabbage, the called-for amounts of celery and carrot, along with 16 oz sauerkraut (there wasn’t any juice in mine), the sautéed shallot and hotdog to the broth, sealed the lid and cooked on high pressure for 7 minutes. Manual release. You can add salt and pepper before cooking if you like, but I wasn’t sure how salty it would be, given the hotdogs, so I left it until serving. I didn’t use any herbs or spices – I didn’t have any of the ones Deb called for, and I don’t live anywhere near a store. The results were incredibly good! And 7 minutes beats the heck out of all that stovetop cooking, if you asked me.
I really should have worded this better. For clarification, the shallot and hotdog are sautéed in a saute pan. Then, all the vegetables, broth, sauerkraut, and the shallot/weenie mixture get dumped en masse into the vessel of an Instant Pot, then pressure-cooked for 7 minutes, followed by manual release. Please forgive the awkward wording above!
Hi! Can I make this without the meat? Can I make it just with chicken? Can I make it with beef? HA! Yeah, go ahead it’s your life. It just won’t be THIS SOUP! (the remarks below are so funny) I ate this soup so much at Vaselka in the 70s, then the 80s. I ate it with the first lesbians I met at my job at Carl Fisher a block away. I ate it with my husband of 40 years (only 5 years then). I love this soup! My only question is, (and I assume you are not answering questions anymore) (maybe Jacques Pepin would answer?) is why is salt & pepper put in at the end and not the beginning? Intriguing. Thanks! And yes I’m using homemade kapusta like my grandma made in Michigan. cheers!
I’ve made this soup dozens of times. It’s possibly the first thing I “pinned” to Pinterest, so it’s maybe been a decade?! We LOVE it. Perfect comfort food for me and my Ukrainian husband. I omit the potato, and use celery root instead of celery. I add LOTs of Bubbies fresh sauerkraut at the very end. Thanks for being the source of many of our favorite recipes :)