Recipes

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

Previously

[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 combine with other ingredients. 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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156 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. 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!

  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.

  8. meirathebear

    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.

  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!)

  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!

  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!

  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?

  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.

  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.

  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!

  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.
    Delicious.

  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.
    Marjorie

  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.)