cozy cabbage and farro soup

Last April, Food52’s Cookbook Club chose Smitten Kitchen Every Day as their book to cook through that month, but I promise, this isn’t the point at all. The club has monthly picks and a yearly Bonus Book, a cookbook participants cook through at their leisure. So while April was my book’s month, for 2018, that book was Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden.

cabbage deserves love and adorationthinly sliced

I already loved this book. We talked about it that month in regard to a crunchy asparagus salad that I mixed with chopped jammy eggs on toast, with a photo that still makes me smile. I told you that you needed to buy that book right then, especially if you also delighted in inventive but not overly complicated vegetable preparations (225 of them, even) and things you hadn’t thought of but would immediately tuck into your repertoire.

cabbage, parmesan, farro, chicken broth

But because I checked on the group multiple times a day to respond to comments and questions on my cookbook recipes, I also read many posts about things the group were simultaneously cooking from the Six Seasons book and I need to tell you that probably 40% of these posts extolled the virtues of the book’s Comforting Cabbage and Farro Soup.

cooking the cabbage downtoasting the farro

You’re about to tell me that you don’t want to eat a cabbage soup. That you don’t find cabbage “comforting.” That you have nightmares of having to eat stewed or braised cabbage growing up, and you’re an adult and you’re not going to do that anymore. You’re probably thinking that this soup is very brown and beige, not exactly a looker, amiright? But that’s exactly my point. This soup is not going to sell itself. I had that book for a year, and had never once paused on this page to consider whether I needed this soup in my life. It took these repeated, sometimes multiple times in a day, posts from random internet strangers reporting that they, too, had made the soup the night before, and it had exceeded all of their cabbage and also soup hopes and dreams for me to become convinced that I might find it wonderful too.

cozy cabbage and farro soup

And they were right. So now, I must do the same for you. I know it’s not pretty. I imagine that you’re skeptical. But the cabbage is slowly cooked down with onion and garlic — think Marcella Hazan’s famous smothered cabbage, but even better — then expanded best stock you have (homemade chicken is great here, but non-homemade or vegetable will work too) and then farro and then, at the end, you add a squeeze of lemon juice to the pot and it shakes the entire foundation of the soup into something bright and fascinating. In bowls, you finish it with a drizzle of olive oil, shaved parmesan, salt and pepper, with extra lemon on the side. It’s the coziest, warmest, most filling thing, and the exact soup I needed to kick 2019 off with. I hope you agree.

cozy cabbage and farro soup


[Psst! Kicking January off with a new soup recipe for, like, balance and stuff, is an almost yearly tradition here at SK.]

One year ago: Split Pea Soup
Two years ago: Chicken Wonton Soup
Three years ago: Chicken Chili
Four years ago: My Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup
Five years ago: Parmesan Broth with Kale and White Beans
Six years ago: Carrot Soup with Crisped Chickpeas
Seven years ago: Carrot Soup with Miso and Sesame
Eight years ago: Chard and White Bean Stew
Nine years ago: Southwestern Pulled Brisket
Ten years ago: Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew
Eleven years ago: Viennese Cucumber Salad
Twelve years ago: Really Smiple Homemade Pizza

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Corn Fritters
1.5 Years Ago: Confetti Party Cake
2.5 Years Ago: Peaches and Cream Bunny Cake
3.5 Years Ago: Oven Ribs, Even Better
4.5 Years Ago: Blue and Red Berry Ricotta Galettes

Cozy Cabbage and Farro Soup

A few notes: This is a good soup to double because while it makes 4 portions, you’ll see, it’s not a speck over one standard soup bowl per person. If you double it, you’ll need to add the cabbage a little at a time until it shrinks down, but it otherwise shouldn’t be a problem in a 5 to 6-quart pot.

While this soup could be vegetarian (using vegetable stock), or even vegan (skipping the parmesan), you could also go in the other direction, adding a ham hock or beef shank for a heartier soup. You could use rice instead of farro, but I do like the chewiness of the grain here.

As always with recipes with short ingredient lists, and rather plain ingredients, seasoning is everything. Keep adding salt and pepper until it tastes right.

Finally, my cabbage tends to brown and seem fully cooked far sooner than the recipe suggests it will be (30 minutes). I end up moving the recipe along sooner, and it’s not a problem. I’ve used savoy cabbage both times; it’s possible that with a regular green cabbage, it might need the full softening time.

  • 1 pound cabbage, savoy or green
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 sprig of rosemary or thyme (optional because I’ve forgotten it each time, and not regretted it)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine or white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup uncooked farro
  • About 4 cups homemade or storebought chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Shaved parmesan, to finish

Cut out the cabbage core and finely chop it. Cut the leaves into fine shreds or about 1/8-inch ribbons. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cabbage core, some salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to soften but is not yet browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until the garlic softens too. Add the shredded cabbage leaves and herb sprig, if using. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot and let it steam a bit to soften the leaves, then toss the cabbage to stir it well with the other ingredients in the pot. Cook, covered, until the cabbage is very sweet and tender, which the book says will take 30 minutes but I find 15 to 20 minutes usually does the trick. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat a glug of olive oil over medium and add the uncooked farro. Toast it, stirring, for a few minutes, until half a shade darker.

When the cabbage is ready, stir in the vinegar. Taste and season with more salt and pepper. Add toasted farro and broth. Bring mixture to a lazy simmer and cook for 25 to 35 minutes, until farro is tender and all the flavors are married. The soup will be very thick, but if you’d prefer more liquid, add another 1/2 cup broth or water. Taste and adjust seasoning again. Stir in lemon juice.

Ladle into bowls and finish each with a drizzle of olive oil and a shower of parmesan, with more parmesan passed at the table.

Do ahead: Soup keeps well in the fridge for 3 days, and for weeks or longer in the freezer.

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305 comments on cozy cabbage and farro soup

  1. sally

    Ok, I’ll bite – I totally agree that this wouldn’t be my meal of choice, but I’m CRAVING soup so will make it next week.

    Question – did your kids eat it? I’m skeptical that almost 7 and 12 will do so…

    1. I make a version of this I saw on the Orangette website years ago, and my kids (6 and 3) love it. The cabbage gets soft and sweet and brothy.
      (It’s also my favorite winter soup!)

    2. deb

      My son did (last year — I ended up freezing this current batch because we made Bo Ssam on Tuesday and this led to three nights of leftovers!) and tried this one and was excited to eat it. My daughter eats nothing, lol, so I doubt this would be the exception.

      1. Sally

        Ha! Ok I’ll give it a try! Isn’t it ironic?! My almost 7 yo is such a picky eater – in fact, she went to food school to learn how to cook and eat more variety (and happily covered 100% by our health insurance!). It’s better after food school but she has her limits.

        1. Nancy

          Tell me more about this food school! Covered by insurance?! My daughter eats the same things EVERY day. I need something like this for her bc it is becoming an issue.

          1. sally

            yes! It was AMAZING. It’s through a speech therapy clinic – there are speech and language therapists who specialize in feeding therapy. We went for 12 weeks, and parents watched behind a one-way mirror as our kids cooked (there were four other same-aged kids), and they made things like chicken Caesar salad, sushi (!!!), tacos, pizza, etc. My daughter ate *everything* and they learned knife skills etc. They also brought foods from home that were challenging to eat and worked on eating those (two foods each week). Then we’d recap at the end, and they’d have homework for foods to work on. There was a whole range of picky eating in the kids, but more than anything, I wanted my daughter to eat what we were eating and stop short order cooking for her. She’s not *incredibly* flexible, but she now eats chicken, fish, plain pasta, more variety of vegetables, etc. which she didn’t before. It was also very validating for me that it was *reasonable* to expect her to eat my meals – I cook all the time, and this was (and honestly, still kind of is) a source of stress. I could go on forever (but that would be annoying), but I wish you could contact me! It really changed all of our lives for the better in a very meaningful way. SOLIDARITY.

            1. Mel

              That sounds like a very respectful way of looking at feeding differences. Those interested may also want to look up responsive feeding and Ellyn Sattur’s work. (Note this is general advice and is not intended to be medical or professional advice).

              P.S. Deb I love your recipes!!

          2. Mitzi

            I just made this soup, I’m not a fan. Way too time consuming for a very mediocre soup. Don’t love the flavours and I described to my Mom as ‘wartime soup’. Not impressed nor will the family be. Sorry, it’s a real miss for me :(

  2. Lori Andrews

    I am going to try this but will substitute with Barley (as I have that on hand) should be the same (ish) but different right?

    1. GUEST

      I’ve been making this soup for a while. Barley works just fine.

      I also use stock that is made from either smoked chicken bones or smoked turkey bones. We have a smoker and I save the bones to make stock. The smoked stock does wonderful things to soups and pots of beans in the winter.

  3. Jess

    I love this soup, it’s a staple in our house. I will say that the addition of the rosemary is definitely worthwhile, don’t skip it next time!

  4. Cara

    I bought Six Seasons at your recommendation, and as you would have predicted I love it. We are also a family that really loves cabbage and eats it regularly. And yet, I somehow completely overlooked this recipe. Fortunately, I have turkey broth simmering on the stove right now, so this oversight can be corrected tomorrow. Thank you for highlighting it!

    1. Rachel

      Love love love this soup! I make it with one sweet Italian sausage and add the spring of rosemary. Delicious. I’ve passed this recipe on to three other people. One makes it exactly as started in the recipe, one adds bacon, one adds ham. Everyone loves it as much as I do and we all make it all winter long. Sometimes I sub the farro with barley (or half farro, half barley) depending on what I have. Freezes well, too. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  5. Jay

    My spousal unit has an extreme dislike of cooked green or red ‘head’ cabbage. He will eat Napa cabbage and bok choy in limited amounts however. Any idea if that substitution will work?

    1. deb

      But Napa and savoy are close… ish! I think you should use savoy. I don’t think napa or bok choy will cook down into something sweet and lovely the same way.

    2. My spousal unit also prefers bok choy so I’ve made soups with it before. I tend to make slow-cooking soups and I’ve found that with that much boiling time the green parts of the bok choy seem to almost dissolve, resembling finely chopped parsley floating in the broth. So while the flavor might be similar [I find bok choy to be less sweet, more “green” tasting], the cooking times are drastically different.

  6. allthebutterforit

    I borrowed 6 Seasons from the library and have finally returned it after maxing out my renewals. I suppose it’s a sign I should, in fact, buy the book. The recipe that stopped my in my tracks and was an “I have to have this now” was the Beef and Broccoli. I’ll have to wait 6 months to make this soup, since it’s solidly midsummer. I’d imagine farro retains some of its texture (in a way rice and pasta don’t), even after sitting in the soup for days. Not that I’ll be able to find farro, but still.

    1. Jillian

      I just discovered that Six Seasons is available for free as a Kindle eBook for Amazon Prime members (via Prime Reading). You don’t need a Kindle, just the free Kindle app for your phone/tablet. Search for the book on Amazon, and then it will prompt you to add it to your Kindle app to read for free! :)

      1. suzanprincess

        Thanks, Jillian for the timely info; I’ve just downloaded Six Seasons to my new “Happy Birthday, Mom!” Kindle. I do love FREE….

  7. Melaura

    I made this with barley instead of farro, but followed the recipe otherwise, seasoning well. I still found it lacking the flavor I wanted: some celery salt and Worcestershire helped, along with the lemon and vinegar. Very tasty with some great parmesan! Perfect for this month.

    1. Melaura

      If you have some of the umami blend Mushroom Power from Trader Joe’s, it goes wonderfully here. No mushroom flavor, just a magic boost.

  8. Can someone please reassure me that my apartment won’t smell like stewed cruciferous vegetable for days and days? Because this looks fantastic and I’m sure that cabbage in general would be a healthy and frugal way to bulk up soups, but I feel a bit nervous about inflicting upon myself the smell of overcooked brussel sprouts.

    1. Annette

      I hear you! Because years ago, I saw the Orangette recipe for smothered cabbage and thought to myself „Why, this would be so much quicker in the pressure cooker!“ Well, what I ended up with was boiled cabbage, not braised, and the smell was… something else. I rarely throw out food but in that case: reader, I did. (I am cooking Deb‘s recipe right now, and as she says – no smell.)

  9. Allie

    I can’t get over how this is just Marcella’s famous recipe but… a smidge different. I realize the cabbage smothers for less time, and there’s farro instead of Arborio rice, but to me this just reads as someone’s variation on that CLASSIC recipe. There’s nothing wrong with that! At all! I just am a little confused because I remember you saying before that the Marcella recipe never really worked for you—so what is it about this one that is better for you? The shorter cook time, the farro, the little bit of lemon?

    As you can see I’m pretty passionate about the Marcella recipe (hahaha), so I really apologize if this comment comes off as pugnacious. I’ve been a reader since 2007 and I literally am in love with your site, so there is no animosity in my comments :) :)

    1. HiFives

      Oh I’m glad you pointed this out – I was about to ask whether there’s a cozy GF grain that could be substituted for the farro. I will give Marcella’s version a go! I’d love to try the farro but the curse of coeliac hampers me.

    2. deb

      No worries at all. You’re right, I hadn’t looked in a while and this is even closer than I remember. So, I had heard so much about Marcella Hazan’s Smothered Cabbage over the years, so much prose, so much praise, I’d expected it to blow my mind. I also had this idea that was it was more caramelized cabbage-meets-caramelized onion (there’s barely any onion); so that was my first disappointment. But the real one is that there is no way on earth I could cook savoy cabbage for 1.5 hours! My stove does run a bit hot, but there is just not enough liquid in savoy cabbage to cook it that long, even with an extra tablespoon of water here and there. I can’t make it to 30 minutes without it going too dark.

      Now that I see the closeness, I’m somewhat surprised he doesn’t cite Marcella as an inspiration in the headnotes. I would have for sure. (And do. In my last book, Smitten Kitchen Every Day, I take the idea of smothered cabbage and tweak it the way I always wanted it, then turn it into risotto. It makes a really good risotto!)

      1. Dana

        This is a fascinating discussion bc I’m obsessed with Alexandra Stafford’s version of Susanne Goin’s slow cooked kale. While I usually double my amounts (love to take it to work for lunch with roasted squash, nuts and goat cheese) so it doesn’t achieve the crispy factor, the *uncovered* slow cook does something amazing to the kale/onion combo (I increase the time and pan size to help w extra kale). Concentrates/develops the flavor? I have used the method on a kale/cabbage combo in a diy ribollita recipe inspired (very loosely) by a Pasta Grannies episode— delicious and such a depth of flavor! I know the Marcella recipe has the cabbage covered, also. (She also uses a greater volume of cabbage which could explain a longer cook time.) Dying to try a long cabbage cook in this recipe and wondering if uncovered will solve the temperature issue, while maybe even allowing a deeper, richer flavor to develop.

  10. This looks delicious and so cozy, I’ll be making it tomorrow! I’m a recently converted vegetarian, so I’m going to poach an egg for each bowl as well since I’m always protein hunting.

  11. Melissa

    right before the holidays, I made a ton of your parmesan broth (~2.5 lbs of cheese rinds worth….it was a year+ maybe 2 years of rinds from the freezer). I didn’t end up using it all, and so now there are quarts of it in my freezer waiting for a use….

    when you wrote about “best stock you have” I thought of it…..would that broth work for this, or do you think other flavors would overpower it?

  12. Morgan

    Happened to have these (ish) ingredients in my fridge and made it for dinner. I had a very small Savoy cabbage and a LOT of green so used a mix of both. Soup turned out lovely. Added ~1 teaspoon both of dried rosemary and thyme. The lemon really is everything here- don’t skimp!

  13. maryannzoeller

    I got Six Seasons as a gift and this was the first recipe I marked. Made my veggie broth yesterday and today’s rainy day will be perfect for this cozy cabbage and farro soup. I’ll be devouring this cookbook season by season!

  14. I always rinse farro before cooking it. Would tossing wet farro into a pan of sizzling oil be a mess, and would it brown at all? But you should rinse it, shouldn’t you? I rinse most grains except, maybe, white rice (which I rarely use).

    1. deb

      It might not brown as well, or it might hiss a bit. The toasting doesn’t make a tremendous difference in the farro, just adds a slightly more complex flavor. I think if you skip it, or just find it to be steamy and un-toasty, there’s no harm.

  15. Jen

    Is there a way to make this with a gluten free grain? This soup looks delicious it my daughter has celiac so Farro won’t work for our family- maybe brown rice or sorghum? Would love to know if you have ideas. Thanks!

      1. Jen

        Bulgur unfortunately is not gluten free. Buckwheat is though so maybe that was what you were thinking? If so that sounds like a good idea would love to know how it turns out!

    1. Amelia Ryan

      Hi! I made this with short grain brown rice (honestly out of not wanting to go to the grocery store, but my sister has Celiac’s too). It turned out great, you just will need a little bit longer cooking time for the rice (closer to 40 mins). Hope that helps!

  16. JP

    I would like to try this out with wheat berries but I have a feeling it would take a lot longer to soften the wheat…but still.
    Happy New Year and soup season!

    1. Peggy

      I read “1 head of cabbage” Instead of 1 lb, and ended up with a whole lot of soggy cabbage with tiny bit of liquid. Just want to emphasize to my fellow skimmers- weigh the cabbage first! It does taste ok, though. And picky husband agreed that tiny apartment does not smell that bad despite excess cabbage cooking.

      1. molly

        peggy- i actually did this too and just adjusting broth/seasons accordingly; although all soups in my house are eaten with crusty bread slices so a little heavy on the cabbage side of the cabbage:broth ratio is never frowned upon :b

  17. Before reading this, I didn’t even know I needed this soup in my life. I think this is gonna be my winter therapy. Can I just mention how healthy this soup is? Especially after all the festive food hogging, we all have been doing the past week.
    Also, I think I’ll be adding ham and use rice instead of farro as I am not a fan of the latter. Can’t wait to try this ASAP!
    Happy New Year to you and your family :D

  18. Nancy Martin

    It’s a new year so of course my resolutions was to lose weight and NEVER gain it back again. Is there a nutrition count on this recipe? Got my onions cooking now because it sounds like a keeper recipe. Hope the calorie count is not very high.

    1. JC

      I’ve been doing the calorie counting thing for a long time, and while most recipes won’t have nutrition facts, you can always do some rough calculations on recipes yourself without too much trouble. It’s one of the best ways to keep cooking and eating a wide range of excellent food without limiting yourself to “diet” recipes. I usually use MyFitnessPal’s recipe calculator, but there are plenty of decent choices across the web.

      For this specific recipe, with some generous estimates for olive oil and parmesan, this soup comes out to a bit shy of 400 cals/bowl. That should easily fit into most diets, and I’m looking forward to it tonight for dinner!

      1. Marilyn

        When you say bowl, how many cups are in it? I always have trouble figuring out calories in soup. I’ll check out the app you suggested. Thanks

  19. Kirsten

    My husband made this for dinner last night, and it was delicious. Make a double batch! Even with that we didn’t have much left over.

  20. Jen

    Six Seasons was such a surprising delight! I’m so glad it was recommended as it really gave my relationship with veggies new life (and I already loved them!). If you haven’t tried the cauliflower “steaks” yet, be sure to do so. I’ve riffed off that recipe more times than I can count.

    1. Rachel

      Glad I wasn’t the only one underwhelmed here. It had the “sad vegetarian” feel for me, like it was missing some fundamental qualities. I added extra salt, nutritional yeast and some soy sauce, but that just made it edible. Won’t be making it again, but clearly others loved it.

      1. Me too (sorry) eh meh Followed the recipe precisely. I said to my husband just pretend we just escaped from the gulag, added extra parmesan… wine.. pepper.. just so dull.. i’m going to interview the cabbage in the morning ,thought it would be perfect as we’re having a sloppy icy night in Vermont

  21. Salena

    You got me at the title. Just what was needed on this extremely damp night! And it may be heresy, but I preferred this to the Marcella Hazan cabbage soup. I loved the texture of the farro and all the flavors just melded together perfectly. I used unsalted chicken stock, regular onions (I wonder if it would be too sweet with Vidalias), and a winter CSA cabbage. Cozy, indeed!

  22. Adrienne

    This sounds delicious! I love having soups to take into work for lunch! I have some ham hocks in my freezer… how should I add them?? Just throw them in and let the meat fall off as the soup simmers?

    1. Pam

      Add them to the broth and simmer. Just before the soup finishes, take them out, cool a bit so you don’t burn your fingers, chop the meat and return the meat to the soup. Discard bone and fat.

  23. Kathryn

    I made this tonight, and found it just slightly lacking in flavor, but I’m about 90% sure that was my fault — I used a green cabbage instead of a savoy, and after 30 minutes, it was soft and tasty but not nearly as brown or caramelized as the one on the SK Instagram. Definitely wait it out! I feel like that would have made a huge difference. (I also used barley instead of farro but I don’t think that was an issue.) The cheese on top is a delightful addition, but a spoonful of grated Parmesan was a much more even and welcome addition.

  24. This turned into a weekend dinner on a cold and rainy night, and it was perfect! I’ve never made cabbage soup before, and I followed the recipe exactly. It came out delicious, warm and comforting. Can I say that I really appreciate the Instagram stories you do also? The one for this recipe helped me figure out what my cabbage should look like! Thank you!

  25. Amanda

    I made this last night and my kids ate it up. The toasted farro gives it a lovely nutty flavor and a little something to chew on. I used winter savory and turkey bone broth.

  26. Fern

    If I only have wheat berries in my pantry, should I just increase the cooking time? Or do I need to run out and get some farro?
    Thanks!! Looks delicious

  27. Just the item to help me with my “resolution/New Year goal” of adding more veggies to every meal. Made this last night exactly as written. I loved it and plan on having it for lunch at work the next 2 days. Hubster was missing meat and asked if we could add sausage next time. Maybe small sized pork meatballs?
    We live on a boat and the smaller area and lack of ventilation can mean aromas linger but this did not (as you stated).
    Have been following you since before Jacob and it is such fun to see your kiddos growing up.

    1. StephanieR

      Oh my gosh DEBMURRAY1954, you live on a boat? My husband and I used to be livaboards! Where are you guys? One of the first things that attracted me to Smitten Kitchen was the lack of excess dishes, so cooking in such a small space with limited water was much more manageable. Now this site is hands-down my favorite cooking resource :)

  28. Well, YUM. I adore making soup and I have a little bit of farro in the freezer and not sure what to do with it.

    I also make a cabbage and barley soup that has a white sauce stirred in at the end – so good. Cabbage really is a great soup vegetable.

  29. Barb

    I am a cabbage fan. It’s in my DNA growing up with Polish and Lithuanian parents. The carnivore, however, not so much. Needless to say we both loved the soup. He even had seconds. Brought back so many memories of my parents. Used Savoy cabbage and just followed directions. Yum,

  30. Margaret

    I made this today and yes, it’s never going to win any beauty contests, but it’s surprisingly tasty! I added some celery and carrot I had on hand, two sprigs of thyme, and a Parmesan rind for extra umami. I forgot to get a lemon so I added a tiny splash of champagne vinegar and it worked. I think I might try browning the cabbage with higher heat to add another layer of flavor. Molly Wizenberg of Orangette had a lovely cream-braised cabbage recipe in her first book and this soup reminded me of that, so I might try to Frankenstein them together next time, by browning the cabbage and adding a splash of cream for a creamier soup.

    1. Margaret

      *i used green cabbage, I think it took about 20 minutes to soften but it wasn’t as carmelized as I think it could / should have been.

  31. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about serving this for dinner, but it exceeded expectations. It has a really lovely sweetness, and it was filling enough for an evening meal, though I’d probably serve it with a crusty bread next time. I did also fry up about a strip of crispy bacon per serving for garnish, but it really didn’t need it.

  32. bookfanatic84

    This is delicious! I used green cabbage, doubled the recipe, and used 1/2 Tbs onion powder instead of each onion.

    I’m waiting for it to cool enough to eat, and I keep burning my tongue sneaking tastes.

  33. Lori

    Your backstory on this soup totally intrigued me and you weren’t kidding. Holy cow, this soup/stew is delicious! As you say…you gotta get past it’s homely appearance and move straight to the yummy factor!

  34. Allison K

    Just made this tonight and it was heavenly. I warmed and sliced up sausage to serve along with it, but also imagine a nice jammy egg would be great on here as well.

  35. Liz Haspiel

    “Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cabbage core, some salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the OVEN starts to soften but is not yet browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until the garlic softens too. Add the shredded cabbage leaves and herb sprig, if using. ADD THE CHICKEN STOCK??Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot and let it steam a bit to soften the leaves, then toss the cabbage to combine with other ingredients. ”

    I assume you mean “core” instead of “oven” and the chicken stock is never officially added to the pot. Is that the place to add it?

  36. Nonie Kent

    This soup is easy, light and delicious. I did use the thyme and doubled the recipe. I added a few red chili flakes and one can of cannellini (white kidney) beans (well rinsed) to it. The Parmesan made it super yummy! It is a very comforting soup. Thank you for this recipe. It is going into my favorites book, along with your roasted carrot salad and chopped cauliflower with green olives and capers. :)

  37. Julie

    Hi! I am making this now as it looks delish! I’m confused as to the directions – I am missing where it says to add the broth. I assume that’s after steaming the cabbage and before you add the farro. The “toss the cabbage to combine with other ingredients” wasn’t super clear as to whether that’s the rest of the ingredients in the recipe or just those in the pot already or if that’s when you add the broth. Can you help clarify? Thanks!!!

  38. Cheryl Martin-Schroeder

    I have been trying to “like” cabbage. This soup did it for me–it’s so good and so simple. A hit with the family!

  39. JC

    I made a double batch on Saturday night and have adored it now thrice in a row. What a fantastic soup.

    I threw in a bit of dried thyme and I think it was a worthwhile addition; I’m sure fresh would be that much better! I definitely recommend going heavy on the lemon juice and really listening about making sure it’s adequately salted and seasoned. The cheese is also a necessary finishing touch, I think; the sweet nuttiness of the parmesan complements the nutty farro and the sweet cabbage to tie the whole soup together.

    1. Jessie V

      I totally agree with this! I’ve made it with Savoy cabbage from our CSA and fresh thyme twice now. The first time, I waited to do all the seasoning til the end, added some shredded rotisserie chicken, and added just a little finely grated Parmesan. It was ok. The second time, I followed the recipe exactly except for a little extra lemon juice, with a generous amount of shaved Parmesan, paying much more attention to the seasoning when prompted. It was delicious!

  40. guest

    Hi, i just saw your post for this soup and thought it would be perfect for tonight. I made it with brown rice that I had on hand and I found that it sucked up all the liquid so I ended up with tasty, though not what I had in mind, cabbage stew. Just wanted to let you know that other rice users should maybe use half the amount of rice or add more liquid to the soup to compensate.

    1. deb

      Please note, the recipe says “The soup will be very thick, but if you’d prefer more liquid, add another 1/2 cup broth or water.” — So, more liquid is fine, but a stew-like consistency is not abnormal.

  41. I can’t believe this is the featured soup this week. My sister gave me the Six Seasons cookbook for Christmas and I just happened to make it tonight (it, by the way, was the first recipe that jumped out at me from this cookbook!) and my whole family ADORED it. Then, while trying to avoid watching commercials during ‘The Good Place’, I started checking out your website for what people are cooking this week and there this recipe was.

    It really is amazing. I definitely will double it next time because leftovers. I’ve trusted you from the beginning, Deb, but this solidifies our relationship.

  42. Lynn

    I followed the recipe exactly using regular green cabbage, and softening took the full 30 minutes. The taste and texture were great, but omg the intestinal distress?! I won’t be repeating this one.

  43. stephie

    I made this with caraflex cabbage and it was delicious. I’m not one for cooked greens but the layers of carmelization, plus the added acid hit at the end really made it interesting. I added some rotisserie chicken, but only because I had it left from the carcass that I made broth with.

  44. Melanie

    This recipe is simple to make and so delicious – my boyfriend and I both agreed that it was one of the best things I’ve ever cooked! I made it exactly as written, with homemade broth (highly recommended) and the sprig of rosemary (also recommended). This will definitely be added to our weeknight recipe rotation!

    1. Hayley

      The texture of the cabbage is amazing, so soft and silky! I followed most instructions, but used a spicy mexican-spiced broth that was a byproduct of my husband making shredded chicken for his burrito bowls. The soup is delicious. I can see how this would be a great base recipe for lots of variations! (Use different broth, increase farro, add mushrooms, add beans, add sausage, etc)

  45. Jennie M

    Made this- my first cabbage soup- and loved it! Reminds me of the cozy feeling of French onion soup.

    Note for people who read recipes quickly like I do: it is 1 POUND not head of cabbage. Mine was very thick but I kept adding water and it was still great :)

  46. Shelley Lawrencd

    Making this right now. So excited. One question. After adding the broth do you cook it covered or uncovered? Thanks. Love your recipes!!

  47. Julia

    Is this worth making without the onion? I pretty much exclusively make recipes from SK, always skip the onion (often add a couple of extra garlic cloves) and have never been disappointed…. but with this soup having such few ingredients I’m worried it will be too one note. Any thoughts?

  48. Alexandra

    Made this last night and it was delicious! I have been a vegetarian for 28 years and one thing I miss is French onion soup and this had that same vibe. I used vegetable stock. All three of my children ate it and said they liked it even though the thirteen year-old mentioned that it didn’t look that great. Although my kids are pretty good eaters, if I try something new and it doesn’t look that great, usually one or two will turn up their noses, but this was a hit!

  49. Tina

    I love this kind of soups in winter and this especially, but my daughter (she is 21, in words twenty-one), would never ever take of spoon of this cabbage mixture.

  50. Anna

    Made this soup last night exactly as written (including rosemary) and it was delicious! The acids from the vinegar and lemon juice and a generous amount of olive oil, plus salt and pepper, really make it wonderful. Thank you for a new addition to our healthy winter soup rotation! And for convincing me to try it – because you’re right, it doesn’t exactly sell itself. :)

  51. Anne F.

    I made this soup over the weekend. A really delicious riff on the Marcella Hazan Smothered cabbage– I think next time I’d prefer to use Arborio Rice. I did have a question regarding the use of a beef shank. I seared mine off, but it seems that the cooking time of the soup didn’t lend itself to making the shank tender. Any suggestions are appreciated!

  52. Ali B

    Made this recipe and it was perfect on a cold winter day. I used TJ’s 10 minute farro and it came out great… just adjusted the final cooking time to accommodate for the parcooked farro. After reading comments, I went ahead and made a double portion of the recipe and I was glad that I did because it is really that good! I put a few springs of thyme and it was delightful. I did double the red wine vinegar; I think it added more sweetness to the cabbage. This soup is the perfect way to start the new year with some veg and whole grain! And yes, while the look is brown and not bright and vegetal, the taste is awesome! Thank you, Deb! You’re killing it!

  53. Thia

    When I mentioned soup to my husband he immediately scrunched up his nose, however he is now a believer. It was delicious! I used savoy cabbage and it was very thick so on day 2 I added some water. It still tasted great! Thanks for the awesome recipe! It did not get my kids seal of approval but I may try again anyway.

  54. Cate

    I accidentally added the broth before cooking the cabbage (green cabbage too!) and it still turned out delicious! In case anyone’s looking to make a quicker/after work exhausted, version.

  55. Mimi

    This looks absolutely delicious! I must be the only one who doesn’t think the color is a problem. I have a quick question about your jars. Where oh where is that adorable jar (with the broth in it) from? Do you freeze your stock in it or can it crack in the freezer?

    1. alexis

      That’s a Weck Tulip jar, with a plastic lid that you can buy separately from the glass covers and silicone gaskets they come with. You can freeze them as long as you leave room for the liquid to expand when it freezes.

  56. Nadia

    Made this with barley because it was what I had on hand. Loved loved loved!!! Used the cheese on the first bowl but skipped it on the second as it didn’t even need it!!

  57. Charity

    I totally bought Six Seasons on your recommendation, and now cook from it (or cook something inspired by it off the cuff) at least twice a week! Belated thanks for the suggestion!
    Now, this soup has been on my “need to make” list for a while… gotta do something about getting it onto my “made it” list ASAP.

  58. Agnieszka

    I made the soup 3 days ago as I love anything that is cabbage related and so does my 8 year old son. We both really enjoyed it. My husband less so, but he’s not into cabbage like we are. The next day I had leftovers for lunch with a friend and she really liked it and asked me what it was as she has never eaten a soup like this.

    So I think this soup is a hit for people who like cabbage anyways, but maybe not so much for people who don’t :).

  59. Emma

    So good. I used red cabbage, because that’s what I had & pearl barley because that’s what I can get. It completely redeemed the first day back to work after a two week holiday.

    The lemon completely makes this – it is bright and fresh and not at all like a winter soup. I didn’t think the parmesan added anything though (and it is my guiding principle in life that everything is improved by a grating of parmesan) – I would consider poaching an egg in this, though, next time (next week). The red cabbage took the full 30 minutes to soften and become delectable.

  60. Kara Nierenberg

    I made this soup the other day and was also very disappointed. There wasn’t enough liquid so the farro took forever to cook and then the final flavor was blah. I love cabbage and farro and maybe some doctoring with other spices could help, but I followed the recipe as written (and even added some extra broth to help the farro be submerged) but it just didn’t work. That said this is the first smittenkitchen recipe that didn’t wow me, so I won’t be leaving this site anytime soon.

  61. MKLands

    Made this last night with a couple of changes because I was in a mood and wanted something more French onion soup-ish: beef broth instead of chicken, thyme and half a bay leaf instead of rosemary, Emmenthaler instead of Parm, no lemon juice but more (red) wine vinegar. Fantastic! Gotta love a recipe that is so amenable to the cook’s whims! Thanks yet again, Deb!

  62. Marilyn

    Healthy soup is my thing and this recipe did not disappoint. I made my own vegetarian stock and used no oil. I sautéed with water and the soup came out
    absolutely delicious. Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Mimi

      Cabbage is very good for your health. Good fibre for colon, lots of vitamins and stuff. Can’t explain well in englisch… but you can Google it :)

  63. Emma

    Meant to say: I really like a recipe that uses everything up. There is good eating in the core of a cabbage which takes only a very little extra care to use.

  64. Thank you for posting this recipe! A friend gave me Six Seasons for Christmas and I was a bit overwhelmed with where to start. This recipe was perfect — comforting, filling, and came together quickly. Thank you for inspiring me to cook from this book!

  65. bianca

    Phenomenal. Used regular green cabbage and it still was soft and sweet at 20 minutes. Needed to add more liquid than the called for 4 cups. Don’t be afraid to add more if you need to – I added at least another cup to my preferred looseness. As it was simmering I decided to add some protein in the form of BBQ rib meat that I had in the freezer. Was the perfect smoky complement to the cabbage. Made me think that it would be a great idea to slice up some kielbasa and cook that with the onion at the beginning of the recipe. Mmmmmm. Topped the bowls with a splash of sherry vinegar, olive oil, and a sprinkling of parmesan. So, so good!

  66. Mimi

    I made this yesterday and it’s really tasty . I added a piece of pork belly. Forgot the rosemary, but I’ll make it again next week, with rosemary :)
    Oh, I even left out the farro, but still loved the soup.
    Lemon juice and parmesan give it the certain something…

  67. SallyT

    I made this last night and LOVED it. I did a double batch, so had to let the cabbage and onion caramelize for about 40 minutes or so – I used TJ’s farro so that part was shorter, and I’d try brown rice next time. I didn’t quite double the olive oil but used 1/3 cup, which was plenty. Not a super kid friendly meal (they didn’t care for it) but I was delighted to have lunch leftovers today!

  68. Miriam

    This was the first thing I’ve ever made from this site that really wasn’t tasty (…and I’ve made a lot of fantastic things from this site!). Threw the whole thing out :-(

  69. susanrotter

    Yum! I’ve just finished a bowl of this lovely soup (: and I’m so looking forward to bringing it for lunch at work next week!
    Delicious ( the lemon and vinegar really make the broth imho), filling and good for me – thanks so much!

  70. jordyn

    We love your Veselka’s cabbage soup so as soon as I saw this I couldn’t wait to try it. I knew it would be a hard sell for my 3.5 year old but made it anyway. Finally got her to try a bite by telling her the farro was like rice, and once she tried it she was hooked! Truly have never heard so many superlatives come out of a preschooler’s mouth. She actually said verbatim “mama you’re the best cook ever!”. More than made up for her screaming at me for the entire prior hour ;) The adults loved it too, perfect balance of healthy and delicious.

    Followed the recipe with the exception of chopping rather than shredding the cabbage (misread the part about chopping the core), turned out perfectly.

  71. Robin Meyerhoff

    Wow. A new fav with farro from smitten kitchen. The one pot farro with tomatoes is our other.

    This soup is divine. I didn’t toast the farro (I’d just made a pot boiled) and it was still great. But am looking forward to the flavor from toasting it next time. I used thyme and rosemary because I had both on hand. And it’s meyer lemon season so I added a squeeze of one from the garden. That (plus the Parmesan) made all the difference! We can’t stop eating it!

    PS haven’t tried feeding it to the kid yet but will next time.

  72. Kris

    I expected to love this— I adore cabbage, soup and cabbage soups— but merely liked it okay. For me the soup was quite sweet, the sour/sweet balance was good but there wasn’t enough umami or saltiness to balance out the sweetness. I did make a vegetarian version with homemade veggie stock— maybe a richer meat-based stock would have made the difference? We eat gluten-free and so used oat groats in place of the farro, which worked beautifully, and gave the chewiness that rice would have lacked.

  73. Meredith

    I made this tonight as written- the only thing I did to punch it up was that I made it with homemade parmesan broth instead of chicken stock. It is absolutely delicious- flavorful, hearty and satisfying. I used green cabbage but did not find it took longer to cook. I also added extra garlic, but I do that for pretty much every recipe that includes garlic. This will definitely be a cold weather staple for me.

  74. Bridget

    I made this last week and loved it. My family is not a fan of cabbage so I had a delicious lunch to look forward to for a few days.

  75. Eileen

    Cozy is the right word. I made this because I happened to have the ingredients, and that’s the reason I would make it again. The farro soaked up a lot of the liquid, so leftovers were more like a casserole than a soup.

  76. SJ

    Did not have stock so used water instead. Used Trader Joe’s Mushroom and Company umami seasoning instead, hoping it would compensate for the lack of stock.

  77. Sabrina

    Gah. Didn’t have farro, didn’t want to buy new bc am moving soon, thought I had barley… I only had cracked wheat. Not enough texture difference. taste was OK but needed more salt/pepper than I realized initially…

  78. Emily Topham

    It’s like Poland went on vacation to Italy and brought back a little culinary inspiration! I feel like I made my Central European foremothers proud.

  79. Marjorie

    Hi and thank you for all your wonderful recipes and short, fun, intelligent comments. Much appreciated as some bloggers go on for ever before you can actually see the recipe.
    My question is about the farro which I haven’t been able to find for the moment, my organic store will order some, so they advised whole spelt as an alternative. It’s the same family of grain and looks alike but it needs to be soaked overnight. Does your farro need that or not? I think it will be impossible to toast if wet but I guess that really adds to the taste. I’m not sure that I can use it unsoaked.
    Thanks for your help.

  80. Michal

    Hi Deb,
    Love your site! Used it so many times but never left a comment so… THANKS for all the great recipes.
    It’s not that easy to find farro in Israel, can I just pass? Or do I have to replace with another grain?

  81. MR in NJ

    I thought I had farro, but I had used it all, and it was too cold to go to the store, so I substituted some bulghar and some wheatberries, which I soaked first in thin tomato sauce left over from stuffed cabbage from the deli.

    Doubled the recipe to use a whole medium-size cabbage.

    I deglazed the pot with a little wine and for the rest of the liquid used a quart of homemade vegetable stock and a quart of good turkey stock from the local poultry farm, both from the freezer.

    Soup was different and delish!

  82. Marie

    I made this as written (including a rosemary sprig) — found the flavor a little dull until I added the parmesan, and zing! Instantly a winner. Next time I might throw a parmesan rind in while cooking.

  83. Janice

    This is very good. I liked the addition of farro to vary the texture of the soup and make it a healthy grain and cabbage soup. I made it with red cabbage (sent my husband to the store for savoy and he came back with the red claiming it was savoy, lol). It was still delicious, even with the borscht like look.

  84. Georgeanna in Asheville

    A note on yield: seemed less than advertised. I made a double batch to freeze for easy winter work lunches, and it made just a wee bit more than 6 lunches, stored in pint deli containers (3 qts). Translate that to 8 servings, and it’s 12oz each, which seems like a small serving (to me, at least), for such a simple soup. If I make it again, I may do a triple batch.

  85. As soon as I saw this recipe I opened a browser tab and swore not to close it until I made it – and I’m not sorry I bumped it up the queue. I was deciding between the risotto version of this in the cookbook (but using farro) and the soup, and soup won out on this freakishly cold day. We’ll be making this again. (Caveat, I guess, for those who are underwhelmed: my family is from Central European stock and cabbage + onions + ham over noodles is a favorite dish around here anyway.)

  86. Lo

    Making this now and absolutely love your commentary as my 11yo said all those things when I told her what was for dinner. You are always spot on! Quick comment I found one direction confusing (and yes I should have read the whole thing through but…I always say that after I make a mistake) you say combine cabbage with all other ingredients and then a bit later you have Farro instructions..:but I had already added the Farro. So…probably just me..but thought maybe it might help others :). And yes it smells delish and hopefully will be OK with untoasted farro.

  87. Margie

    I knew I had to make this soup on this single digit day. Delicious and soul warming for lunch and dinner today. Thank you for creating a soup that can be made from simple ingredients that keep in your frig until you need to make it.

  88. Elyse

    This soup was great. We had it solo last night and will eat the leftovers tonight with a fried egg on top and fresh bread on the side. I used wheat berries instead of farro with no issues, just a slightly longer simmering time.

    After reading this post, I checked out the Six Seasons cookbook from the library – I highly recommend it! I bought two Savoy cabbages which was enough for the soup and a batch of filling for the cabbage/mushroom hand pies on the next page of the cookbook.

  89. CoCo

    I made this soup this evening and it was yummy. I used bagged slaw(cabbage and carrots mix) and used dried rosemary. I will definitely be making this again.

  90. This is delicious!! I haven’t enjoyed a dinner this much in a long time!

    Because of not having everything in the recipe, I ended up using half farro and half pearl barley, dried thyme and rosemary instead of fresh, and apple cider vinegar instead of red or white wine vinegar. I also used boxed chicken stock.

    And I added chunks of cooked chicken sausage.

    But the star is definitely the perfect blend of the cabbage (I used regular), onion, garlic – what simple ingredients and such a deep delicious taste! And I agree, you could use any grain, but the chew of the farro/barley made it even better.

    Thanks so much for this delicious recipe. I’ve already shared it with several people I know who I think will love it as much as I do!

  91. this was very good. didn’t have the parm on hand, and it was still delicious. made a simple homemade stick using rosemary rotisserie chicken, it was great. so simple, will definitely make again.

  92. I love that book Six Seasons so much and I pretty much use it for all my vegetable preparations! Thanks for bringing it up. And I also must say that my cabbage is slowly cooked down with onion and garlic too. I laughed when I read that part but I’ll definitely improve. Your blog has helped me out tremendously. Thank you!

  93. Cherelle Bishop

    I liked this without the lemon it overpowered the flavor for me and a grilled cheese sandwich. Do not be afraid to get the cabbage very carmelized as that bring out the flavor in the dish.

  94. Rachel

    This is so wonderful, this might be my new favorite winter soup. Followed the recipe exactly, including the rosemary sprig. It really is so cozy, and the parmesan adds the most amazing salty bite, not something I’d ever have thought to add myself. Its a perfect balance of flavors. I’ll definitely be making a double batch next time!

  95. Mel

    DO NOT rush the browning of the cabbage in this recipe. Regular harmless cabbage turns into a nutty delicious base in this soup that can handle any arrangement of ingredients you throw at it! I thoroughly messed with this soup. I added celery, used butter, hit it with dill and rosemary leaves the size of your index finger, squeezed three meyer lemons in, and finished it with some dried beans and a handful of baby kale from the fridge. The base flavor of the cabbage carried everything on a wonderful homey foundation of awesomeness.

    From here on out when I have cabbage scraps I will be making soup. BROWNED, delicious, cabbage soup.

  96. Moonvirgo

    I loved this but…the house definitely smelled up w cooked cabbage odors. I used same cabbage as pictured. What might I have done wrong?

  97. It sounds such a good and easy recipe that I should give it a try very soon. Occasionally it happens that I have all the ingredients listed at home, but never thought cabbage and farro could match together in a soup. Thanks for sharing.

  98. This soupy stew was perfect for a cold night. I used a homemade veg broth (carrots, onions, Parmesan rind) and it made the finished broth so sweet and deep. One thing I wasn’t sure about was whether to cover the pot during the final simmer. I did, and it may have precluded the need to add more liquid. Thank you for this, Deb!

  99. Carlee Dynes

    I made this soup soon after you posted and have had it on repeat weekly since. I’ve done it with a variety of different stocks, but the recent and best version was with some chicken stock from Samin Nosrat’s buttermilk chicken. I can’t get over how good it is, and all 5 of my kids (ages 11-2) will a worst tolerate it, and at best say it is one of their favourites! I think I will keep this on regular rotation at least during the winter, and maybe even in the summer when I need a good pot of soup.

  100. Alexis

    Oh man, this turned out really bad for us. Like, really bad. The only thing I did differently was to use green cabbage. I can typically salvage mediocre meals but this went in the trash and we ate toast for dinner.

  101. Michelle

    This is literally my favorite soup EVER! I make it almost once a week all winter. It may not be pretty, but it is SO EFFING GOOD!

  102. Alex

    Made a variation of this soup with barley instead of farro, which I didnt have on hand, and it was excellent. The acid and the parmesan really add tons of dimension and flavor to the dish.

  103. Penny Powell

    This soup is mysteriously delicious. My two teenaged boys and I had it for dinner last night with buttered toast, and I just had a bowl for lunch. It makes an amazing leftover to take to work, but remember to bring along the cheese, because it elevates it substantially.

    Deb’s description is completely accurate. It is so utterly simple that the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. That’s why I call it mysterious. I don’t understand how these elements became the soup that just filled my belly on this frigid spring day.

  104. Melinda Barsales

    I love this soup! Instead of adding rosemary to the soup, I enjoy it with a piece of toasted rosemary bread.

  105. Yet another sensational recipe! I made this last night and the whole family loved it. I used red cabbage, and it gave the soup the most beautifully dramatic purple colour. I also highly, highly recommend the leftovers, when the soup has been drunk by the barley and you eat it with a fork. Well done,Deb!

  106. Patricia Haddeland

    I made the Big Bean and Tomato Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette from the recent Bon Appetite and saved the bean “stock” to use in this soup. It was fantastic and I got to try two new recipes. Maybe cabbage and farro soup isn’t everyone’s idea of summer fare but in the great PNW evenings can be cool enough on the deck to want something on the cozy side.


    I love Smitten Kitchen and have made many of her recipes. The Apple cake, the Apple challah, the one pan farro, the chocolate babka, pear cake and these are just the ones I remember. Just to say, I’m a big fan. This soup. Not so much. As my daughter put it, it’s like we’re eating with Charlie Bucket before he wins the chocolate factory. Not a ton of flavour, I added hot sauce, which helped but I’m sorry to say I won’t be making this one again.

  108. aloneinthekitchenwithaneggplant

    The devil is in the details to make this sing. I really recommend using some herbs, deglazing with a crisp, acidic white wine for flavor boost, and using the best stock you can. Caramelize that cabbage for a good long time in a heavy pot. The quality of the cabbage makes a huge difference too. The first time I made this, it was with a winter cabbage from the store – the second time, with a cute fall cabbage from one of my favorite market farmers. Guess which version was fine and which one was glorious?

    Also if you’re short on pans/patience you don’t have to toast that farro. Your efforts on caramelizing the cabbage will generate enough toasty flavors.

  109. CK

    Tonight was the 3rd time I’ve made this soup, the first was excellent with the addition of parmesan rind, the 2nd disappointing, and I think I’ve gotten the trick now, don’t skip out on caramelizing the cabbage in the middle, add lots of salt through out (I chop my garlic with salt as well) and good parmesan makes a world of difference. Also, I’ve found that erring on the side of over toasting the farro (some of mine were burnt…) adds a really lovely layer of nuttiness to the final product! True to the name, very cozy soup.

  110. Britt

    Okay, so I just made this and it IS pretty tasty, *but* did anyone else end up with what is basically a stew? Like there’s so much cabbage in this it’s crazy. The flavour is lovely but it’s extremely heavy and I can only eat a little bit. I used a 1lb savoy cabbage and followed the recipe exactly, I still added another 1.5 cups of broth just to give it more moisture – it’s crazy thick. What could I have done wrong?

    1. deb

      Nothing at all. The recipe calls the thickness out: “The soup will be very thick, but if you’d prefer more liquid, add another 1/2 cup broth or water.” Sounds like you needed more, but it’s very much built into the idea of the soup, that it can be stew-like or thinner, your choice.

    1. Jess

      I’m curious if you tried it? I would think it would take at least twice as long for brown rice to cook, given the general cooking times of those grains (45-50 for brown rice; 20 for farro).

      1. Avra-Sha Faohla

        No, I haven’t tried it yet. Was sort of hoping I’d get an answer before trying but not sure if that’s going to happen–I’ve been kind of wanting to make this soon.

  111. I just wanted to say this is absolutely delicious and super nourishing. I made it for my parents (in their 90s), and they adore it and I thank you, Deb, for helping me to nourish them. I doubled it and got about 5 quarts! But the farro kept absorbing more liquid so I kept adding more as leftovers sat in the fridge. Using chicken broth made it extra yummy.

  112. Jess

    I love this soup to bits, so much so that I think I made it almost every week last winter. I’m excited to make it (after a summer hiatus) on this windy fall night! Typically I use 1/4 cup of either red or white wine in place of the vinegar, and it’s fabulous.

  113. roxipapi

    Made this with plain green cabbage (instead of savoy) but otherwise followed the recipe exactly, using Pacific brand veg broth. Really delicious! Can’t wait to have it again for lunch tomorrow!

  114. Joann

    I made this soup last night, exactly as the recipe instructed. We loved it. I probably salted and peppered it more than most people would, I tend to do that with cabbage. I used my own chicken broth, savoy cabbage, a spring of rosemary only during the sweating stage, added a sprinkle of dried thyme with the broth. Had it again for lunch today and it was just as good or better. both the vinegar and lemon are subtle, but essential. The cabbage is sweet, so are the onions, and the acids tang it up just enough. I resisted adding caraway, but i might try it with a little bit next time. Can’t imagine anyone thinking this was just so-so or bland.

  115. Sarah Epton

    Just made this mostly as written and it’s fantastic! I tweaked one thing even though it meant an extra step- After the faro was toasted and the cabbage all soft I chucked everything in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes. Without evaporation there’s a little more leeway with serving sizes without, I think, sacrificing flavor.
    Great soup, with or without parmesan!

  116. Rach

    Dumb question, but… about the vinegar – do you mean “red wine” or “white wine vinegar” or “red or white (FULL STOP) vinegar”?

      1. Melissa

        I think Rach was questioning whether the ingredient is either “red wine” or “white wine vinegar” because I wondered about that for a minute, too. Later in the instructions it called for adding the vinegar, so I realized it is either “red wine vinegar” or “white wine vinegar” (not just actual red wine)

  117. When I made this the first time, I followed the recipe to the letter using green cabbage and there was no cabbage smell (as other commenters have pointed out). Amazing! The second time, I converted it to a crockpot recipe, simply because my crockpot is bigger than any stovetop pot I own and I wanted to make more this time. Everything worked out great, except this time there is definitely a cabbage smell. My house smells like it, and not only that, I could taste it more (and still do–sorry if tmi). Can anyone explain why a stovetop vs. crockpot method would make a difference here?

  118. Liz

    I’m trying this tonight. Any suggestions for adding protein? Should I sub out some of the farro for lentils? Or should I add some hard boiled eggs? Thank you!

  119. Emily Piontek

    So comforting, and so delicious! The vinegar (I used white wine) really elevated it. I’m not surprised it turned out so well (never a bad SK recipe), I’m just surprised at the complexi such simple ingredients have when treated just right. Thank you!

  120. Linda


    I made this a few days ago after reading the mixed reviews. I just finished the rest today and will definitely make it again. I used a green cabbage, finely sliced on my mandolin, a couple sprigs of rosemary, homemade turkey broth and I also added a couple Parmesan rinds after adding the broth. Loved the texture of the farro! It was almost like biting into a little piece of ground meat.

    I wouldn’t change a thing when I make it again! Thanks for another winner recipe!

  121. Genelle

    Thank you for your list of pantry staples recipes! I found this searching for things to make while practicing social distancing because of the coronavirus. I happened to have half a head of green cabbage left in my crisper and exactly one onion (seriously all the stores are sold out of onions). My husband was skeptical since he doesn’t have the same love for cabbage that I do but the soup won him over. I’ll definitely make this again, even when I’m not confined to my house.

  122. Carly

    I made this with an improvised porcini mushroom broth and freekeh instead of farro. Super good! I added way more broth/water because I wanted it more soupy. My almost 4-year-old approved as well and asked for seconds (somewhat surprising, as she tends not to like soups).

  123. jjjeanie

    Doubled this last night, with a whole green cabbage (that did take a while to soften) and a v.large onion (working with what I have!). No farro, so used half barley and half wild rice (the last bits of both!). I also dry-fried the grains in my cast-iron skillet (just the way I roast nuts). Used one quart of chicken stock and an equal amount of water. Delicious with parmesan on top. I’ll probably make it again (w carrots perhaps?), even when I can go to the grocery store every day!

  124. Bernadette

    Made this during the Quarantine on a dreary cold day with remnants of a huge cabbage (had made schmaltzy cabbage and roast chicken). This made the house smell wonderful. I added a can of rinsed cannelloni beans.

  125. Sheila Garg

    This is my second time making this soup during stay-at-home. Note: this is one of those soups that the leftovers are better than the first night. It’s comforting and healthy. I’m a fan.

  126. Judy

    It took a couple of tries but now this is one of my favorite soups. I found that using Savoy cabbage makes a difference and fresh thyme is tastier than rosemary. Also tried this with wild rice instead of farro and found myself partial to the wild rice. The trick is to cook the wild rice following package instructions for 15 minutes on its own and then add it to the soup instead of the farro.

  127. Katy Ionis

    Delicious! I used regular green cabbage and instead of faro I threw in chickpeas. I also made little baguette toasts broiled with some parmesan on top and floated them on top of the soup because it was giving me a french onion soup vibe. So so comforting and delicious with such simple ingredients. Thank you!

  128. Katie

    I’ve made this several times now and it’s a hit at our house – and we pretty much despise cabbage. We tend to get them in our weekly produce box and then they sit in our fridge for weeks until we eventually compost them, so I’m excited to find a recipe that appeals to non-cabbage loving household. It’s perfect for cooler weather and is made out of pantry staples that we pretty much always have on hand.

  129. Anne

    I used the rosemary in this – it was delicious. I think for my husband I’ll add a sausage to it next time. But I loved it as written.

  130. Rebecca

    This is one of those recipes that surprises you. So simple and yet so flavorful. We almost always double it when we make it. I love farro in soups, hearty and doesn’t get soggy. Can’t wait to make this one again!

  131. Jessica

    I just made this and it is perfect. I am glad I doubled the recipe! Just made sure to add plenty of salt & pepper. This is a new staple!

  132. Simple and delicious. I doubled it and it somehow became giant. I added some celery and used Better Than plus some boxed chicken broth. Subbed in quinoa for the Farro, too. Got 6 quarts, plenty to freeze and no cabbage smell. If we were in Eastern Europe, I might have felt pressured to add caraway seeds and sour cream. Beetless borscht? It’s a perfect pre-Turkey Day mid-pandemic meal. Staying simple and thrifty feels comforting and calming. More like this, please, Deb. And thank you.

  133. I’ve made this recipe quite a few times, enough that it’s now my go-to cabbage soup. Had a huge red cabbage in the fridge and no interest in slaw and thought, “what’s the worst that could happen?” It turned out delicious, and a very pretty deep pink color!

    1. Deb Oswald

      This is the exact reason I was scrolling through the comments though I kept saying, don’t be ridiculous – the only thing different about red cabbage is its color. thanks for the comment about the pink color! :)

  134. I made this last winter and it was delicious! Glad to find it again (forgot to bookmark it), as we are now vegan and this is a PERFECT vegan recipe using vegetable broth (no parmesan and we cook in vegetable broth, as we avoid processed oil, too).

  135. Hannah Gray

    I’ve made this with and without the herb sprig and can actually say I like it better without. I think the flavor of the herbs kind of mutes the subtle sweet notes of the cabbage.

    1. deb

      There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL or ⌘ + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template.

  136. Donna Landers

    I finally made this soup and oh my gosh!! It is amazing! Not very picturesque but definitely a keeper! Thanks for encouraging us to go beyond looks and simplicity of ingredients to discover a real gem!

  137. Midge

    Delicious, and it doubled well. Cooked cabbage a bit longer than stated. As with many soups, it was better the next day. Used College Inn Chicken Bone Broth and diluted with some homemade chickpea broth I had on hand. Actually a few chickpeas are delicious in this.

  138. Jenna

    My dear friend always talks about her cabbage soup when she wants to drop a few pounds after the holidays. I’ve been a practicing vegan for several years and cabbage sadly isn’t one of my go to veggies.
    I just made it for the first time and added shiitake mushrooms to the recipe. It reminds me of french onion soup and I’m really loving it on this bitter cold day. Next up, I’ll be preparing some beets.
    Yes, I’ve been hit hard with this COVID debacle and my mom is wondering if I’m defaulting to wartime rations ;-(

  139. Karen

    I just made this using my homemade chicken broth. So delicious! I think using store bought broth would not yield the depth of flavor that homemade adds.

  140. Vanessa

    FINALLY I know what to do with cabbage that comes in our farmshare! This soup was INREDIBLE; definitely making again and often. I made a few adjustments based on what I had on hand. I toasted 2/3c of white rice instead of the farro. I also used 8 cups of vegetable broth instead of chicken broth for a whole head of cabbage, and used cheddar cheese instead of parm. Absolutely superb winter soup! Highly recommend.

  141. This soup was delicious. I used boxed chicken stock and cooked a ham hock in the stock with an onion, carrot, bay leave and 12 peppercorns for 2 hours. Then I followed your recipe.

  142. Leslie Lovell

    I made this last night, along with a loaf of whole wheat french bread to soak up some broth. The parmesan to finish is a must. It was delicious! I didn’t think I was a cabbage fan but am now. Who knew healthy could taste so good?

  143. Charlotte

    Have a HUGE head of cabbage from my farm share box and was looking for inspiration on how to use it – I knew Deb would have a solution! I LOVED this soup. I made it with beef stock because that’s what I had, and it felt like a more wholesome cousin of French Onion Soup. Topped too with some dill that I needed to use up which was a nice complement. Will definitely be adding this to my repertoire!

  144. Laura Mazikowski

    This is amazing. The next day most of the broth was gone but it was soo delicious. I heated up the cabbage farro mix and ate it for lunch over a plate of greens. I will definitely make more soon. It satisfies my slavic cravings!

  145. laurie

    My husband LOVED LOVED this. Thank you!
    However, after sitting in the pot for a while, all of the liquid has been absorbed/eaten. There is still plenty of onion/cabbage/farro left. How can I make more broth or add liquid that will keep the great flavor of this soup? Thank you so much!

  146. David E

    Tiny comment – and my fault for not reading recipe twice.

    When you said combine with other ingredients, I thought that meant add the vinegar and the broth. Which I did. It’s on the stove now and I’m sure it will be fine but it was/is a tad confusing?

    And again I admit I did not read the recipe twice and missed the part of adding vinegar and broth separately

  147. Mary Ryan

    While it won’t win any beauty contests, this soup turned out great. The sweetness of the cabbage, nuttiness of the farro, plus the acid in the vinegar/lemon make this a really complex soup. For a little added umami I followed the suggestion of another reviewer and browned ~ 1T of Trader Joe’s Mushroom Umami spice when I added the garlic. I also added a parmesan rind when I added the stock.

  148. Deb+Evans

    I made this last night. Followed the directions with only the addition of a few flakes of red pepper. Didn’t have fresh Rosemary so added a teaspoon of dried. It was delicious. Like one other person noted, I prefer this to the Hazan smothered cabbage recipe.

  149. Becky Hill

    I wanted to make this for a while now. What better day than Inauguration Day? It was everything you said and more. I have made so many of your recipes and I’m a happy gourmet every single time. Yum!! Everyone was asking if I was going to make it in my instant pot. It seems silly because it’s easy as is but any thoughts on this would be appreciated. You are so fun to follow! Thank you.

  150. Emily

    YUM! followed the beginning of the recipe as written but then sauteed the farro in my electric pressure cooker then throw in the cabbage mix and the broth and set it for 10 minutes high pressure. 10 min natural release and it was cooked perfectly and plenty brothy since much less evaporation. Next time I want to make this and add a ton of mushrooms to the mix.

  151. Tamara

    If I had two words to describe this soup it would be: sweet and tangy. I was looking forward to using the cabbage sitting in my fridge, but was overall disappointed by this recipe. This soup didn’t suit my palate, tangy soups just don’t speak “cozy” to me.

  152. Alice O

    This was just okay for me. I felt like the only real flavor coming through was the lemon. I’m wondering if I just didn’t caramelize the cabbage quite enough (though it was pretty brown)? Or if my tongue was being weird last night when I ate it? A bummer because I loved the idea of it, and I deeply trust Six Seasons to serve my belly well.

    We have leftovers so I am hoping the flavors all melded a bit overnight and today will be its day.

  153. Peggy Lunde

    I use less than a pound of cabbage and only 3 cups of broth. This makes it a side dish rather than a soup. A Maui onion is sweet addition if you can find one.
    Yes, I cooked it longer on low– and served it with a grilled, sliced Pork tenderloin.
    Such a brilliant delicious surprise.

  154. Jess

    So, we used Napa cabbage from our winter CSA (in Virginia, which means slim-pickin’s this time of year and many cabbages and turnips), and that worked just fine in my opinion. But I don’t have anything to compare it to, I guess. In addition, I will say that with ours, the flavor was about 100% better after a couple days in the fridge. I know that’s typical for soup, but for this one, it made such a difference that now, while I’m making another batch, I’m waiting a couple days to serve it.


    Best soup I’ve made in a very long time! Made this the day after making the Roast Chicken with Shmaltzy Cabbage, perfectly used up my leftover half-cabbage, spent carcass, and roasty meat. Additionally put in some diced white potato, and used leeks for the onion – it was totally transcendent.

  156. Shasta

    I’ve made this fabulous soup a dozen or more times now and it’s absolutely one of my favorites. I make a whole food plant based (vegan) version without oil or parmesan, and I add a can of great northern or navy beans at the end to really make it a meal. When serving I top with a homemade cashew parm. LOVE!

  157. Kathy

    I love this soup. I have added to it with thin pieces of carrot and celery. I also have now added sausage and spinach. I eat it before golfing and it stays with me for the entire round.

  158. Nicole

    Yummm I stumbled upon this recipe the other day and realized I had all of the ingredients on hand! Made it tonight, with a couple additions – I crisped up some diced bacon, removed from pan and then used the bacon grease instead of the oil to start sauteing the veggies. Used store bought low sodium chicken broth, but added a parmesan rind for the last 10 mins or so of simmering which gave it a little something extra. Also added some spinach I had in my fridge that needed to be used up – only about 1-1.5 cups, didn’t affect flavor much but gave the dish some color. Sprinkled the crispy bacon on each bowl upon serving and it was a hit!
    I will say the lemon definitely brings it all together at the end – I would nix all of the “taste and adjust seasonings” steps until then – based on my tastings throughout, I was fairly worried it was going to be disappointing. But the lemon (and then bacon!) really took it all to the next level!

  159. Susan

    Meh, this was perfectly fine. It tasted as I expected a cabbage and farro soup to taste but nothing worthy of all these accolades. A serviceable winter work lunch soup. I made it with regular green cabbage and homemade chicken stock. I might make it again because I am always looking for soup recipes and as I said it is fine.

  160. Eve Y Bassett

    THIS SOUP ABSOLUTELY GOBSMACKING-IT IS FANTASTIC, and I was a nonbeliever when I read the seducing “try this” words! I can’t believe cabbage can be made to taste so good. Ft Collins, CO is a 41 degree drizzle and I had a wilty cabbage in the back of the fridge-my family hates cabbage but I force it on them occaisionally when I can stand the whining. BUT THIS SOUP WAS DELICIOUS-NO WHINING. So simple, so elegant and delicious. Served with pleanty of Pecorino Romano (had no Parm) and a side of hot crusty sourdough and apple wedges. I followed the recipe exactly and used ordinary cabbage,n with small sprig of fresh rosemary. I am so happy I believed that cabbage soup could be good – because it is really delish!

  161. Laura

    So far so good but a question – if a recipe says “soften but do not brown” (like onions here in this recipe) and I accidentally brown the onions, should I start again?

  162. Susie W

    Nice concept, but I tried it and didnt like it. I followed recipe closely (no riffing or substituting) , using homemade chicken broth supplemented with a bit of Vegetarian “Better than Boullion”. Used savoy cabbage, which i thought was good. But it was just pretty non-exciting, sorry. The next day, the farro had soaked up all the water, making it more of a risotto-y type texture, which I liked. My husband had the great idea of chopping some scallions and toasting sesame seeds for the top which made it pretty good, but overall kinda disappointing, I’m sorry to say!

    I did not use any herbs in the cooking, because i wanted the truer flavor to then see which direction to go. Perhaps that would have made it more interesting. I think i’d use thyme if i were to make it again, but I probably wont.

  163. CarolaJ

    Even as someone prepared to love anything “cabbage,” I was knocked out by how good this is. Making the soup on a lazy Sunday, I gave the cabbage about 45 minutes to soften and sweeten. At that point I was called away from the kitchen, and not wanting to leave a pot on the stove unattended, I put everything into my Instant Pot and set it for 10 minutes, followed by 10 minutes NPR. The farro was perfect and the soup richly delicious. Granted, it means using an extra pot, but the results were so good that I’d use this same method next time – which there will be.

  164. Lindsay Melnick

    This was super delish. Reminds me of Alison Roman’s Twenty Twenty soup recipe. I halved the farro, added a can of cannellini beans, 2 extra c of water + better than bouillon to taste. LOVED it!

  165. Llrp

    This is one of my favorite soup recipes, ever. The herb sprig is unnecessary, but I love to add a couple of Parmesan rinds the same time as the farro.

  166. Maryse42

    I made a double batch of this with pearl barley (I can only find farro at the fancy expensive grocery so I rarely have it on hand) and added smoked tofu for protein, left out the lemon because my son dislikes it, and OMG it really is absolutely delicious (even the kid liked it), and the leftovers are even better the next day!

  167. LMD

    I have made this many times and, to my memory, I’ve never varied the recipe. BUT, today I did with good results so thought I’d post a comment stating my substitutions that worked well for any who may look in the future for if they work.
    1. We were out of farro (sad). I used steel cut oats instead – still toasting them – and they worked well. Not quite as nutty as the farro but still a good substitute
    2. Due to the constraints of not having a ton of time at home, I decided to saute the onions, garlic, and cabbage core and, once soft, throw everything in the slow cooker. Everything on high for 3.5 hours and the soup was perfect, thick but the oats still had some bite and weren’t congealed (this has happened to me before when oats cook for too long!).
    3. I didn’t have a fresh lemon. I tried drizzling a little bit of white wine vinegar over my bowl for the acidity, and won’t ever skip the lemon again. If I’m ever (shudder) out of lemons again, fresh grated ginger may work in a pinch, but I really missed the lemon!

  168. Tiffany

    I made this yesterday with Napa cabbage I needed to use and it was delicious! I browned the onions a bit first before adding the cabbage, used only red wine vinegar (forgot to buy a lemon!), store-bought chicken bone broth, and omitted the herbs. Also swirled in some butter and finely grated Parmigiano at the end a la Marcella Hazan but actually preferred the taste of the soup before the cheese and butter- it was plenty rich without and the sweetness of the cabbage came through better. This one’s going into the winter soup repertoire!

  169. Olivia Sparer

    I made this with freekeh instead of farro and it was excellent! I skipped the step of toasting the grains since the freekeh already has a roasted flavor. So this became a one-pot meal.

  170. Helen

    I had been eyeing this for some time and finally made it for lunch. So simple, delicious, and comforting. I had read a NYT cooking recipe for cabbage soup with gruyere that inspired me to add about 2 ounces of gruyere to this soup at the end. It gave it a nice french onion vibe! But I didn’t skip the parmesan. Have to have all the cheese! YUM.

  171. Jaclyn

    I saw your post on Instagram recently about this soup and knew I had to make it. I’ve recently discovered farro (thanks to you) and I’m currently really enjoying some different cabbage recipes, so this sounded like it was written for me! I included a ham bone (leftover from some holiday meal, it had been lurking in the freezer a while). The whole thing was very tasty and exactly why was needed on a cold, below zero night. My daughters did NOT approve, but what do they know anyway?

  172. Jackie

    So, how soft is the cabbage supposed to get? I accidentally put in *all* the cabbage at the first step, not just the cabbage *core*, and then when I realized my mistake I just sort of proceeded as normal and it tasted good. How different do you think this texture is than it will be when I make it again, the correct way ? Thank you for everything you do!

  173. Whitney B

    Another hit! This is indeed a cozy, veggie-laden soup. I had a big head of Napa cabbage and a few sprigs of oregano wilting in my fridge. Used both and this turned out delicious! The chewy farro adds texture and the lemon and Parm are the perfect toppings.

  174. So yummy, amazing how such humble ingredients can make a mouthwatering dish! I’m blessed with a beautiful farmers market here & the cabbages are coming up like a work of art right now. Thank you Deb, I treasure you & your recipes!

  175. Maryka

    I just finished making this for the first time and I think it’s delicious. A couple of notes that may help others who weren’t so enthralled: 1. Use the amount of olive oil called for, the whole 1/4 cup. It seems like a lot, but it will help with softening the cabbage. 2. I used green cabbage and found that on my stove, it took longer than 30 minutes. It was maybe another 5 or so minutes, but I think it made a difference. 3. I used a rich, flavorful home made broth, which contributes a ton of flavor. 5. don’t skip the vinegar and lemon juice, it brightens the flavor and makes a huge difference. 6. Be sure to salt it enough!

  176. Amber

    Oh wow. I ended up with about 12 cups of extra chicken stock in the fridge and also wanted a diet reset kind of soup. Perfect! But didn’t feel diet. So flavorful! I doubled the recipe but halved the farro to save calories, added in a couple cans of giant white beans for protein, added more broth, didn’t sleep on the herbs – thyme and a sprig of rosemary – and had a parm rind that needed a home. I didn’t really change the soups core concept. This was really tasty! One that both of us liked and I’ve already sent to others. The hubs didn’t notice it was missing meat, which always means the flavor is enough on its own. Thank you!!

  177. Jess

    Want to make this but i never know what a pound of veggies looks like (I know I should buy a kitchen scale but I just haven’t gotten around to it!). Can anybody give an approximate “other” measurement? Like, a small head, how many cups-ish, etc?

    1. G

      The cabbage breaks down quite a bit through the cooking process so just opt for a pretty large head of cabbage. It may seem like a lot but it will reduce significantly. I think savoy cabbage is the best. And do not skimp on the lemon juice at the end, it really completes the flavor. It’s so good & so good for you, I love this recipe!

  178. Ruby Hopkins

    I bought Six Seasons based on this recipe and I love both the book and the soup. Made it again tonight on a rainy Montana night with lamb stock and it’s the best thing I could be eating right now.

  179. CP

    What a great recipe for a chilly and rainy Autumn day! We eat farro often and love cabbage and this combo was a match made in heaven. I used Napa (highly recommended), champagne vinegar, homemade chicken stock, and no lemon. Based on previous comments, I slowly cooked the white, middle-core part of the cabbage and onion until almost all the liquid was gone, like caramelizing an onion but without achieving the color. I almost nearly pureed that core in the food processor prior to cooking to create a thicker base and loved the outcome. I went for the longer cook (30 min) on the rest of the cabbage prior to adding the farro. Toasted the farro nice and brown. It is so delicious. Like most other recipes I’ve tried on SK, this was unexpected, fun, and seriously yummy! Thank you.