I have two stories to share with you today. Two stories that have pretty much inspired this particular recipe I’m sharing with you all today. The first is that my mom doesn’t really like to cook. She’ll be the first to admit this. When we were growing up—and before I started cooking at 13 and took over making dinner to help her out—she really just cooked for my sisters and I because she had to. With that being said, she had a certain amount of dishes that she makes very well. They are dishes she grew up eating because her mother made them for her, and then my mother made them for us. One of these dishes that really just brings me back to my childhood days is stuffed cabbage rolls. Even though it was a dish on a short rotation, I always looked forward to them. I remember her standing over the stove dipping large cabbage leaves into boiling water to soften them, and then filling them with a mixture of ground beef and rice and rolling them into small packages. She’d then line them up in a large pot and pour a rich tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls. She’d steam and simmer them for a while, until the rice was tender and the beef cooked through. I took those memories of my mom making that dish and turned it into a delicious stew. This Stuffed Cabbage Roll Stew is right up my alley because it’s quick and so much easier to make than the traditional rolls my mamma used to make.
The second story also relates to my mother, as I think it really should. She had/has a knack of making soup on the hottest day of the summer. My sisters and I always knew that whenever summer came around, we’d be eating a lot of soup. To this day my mother says that it’s something about eating hot soup on a hot day that cools you off. Which I know sounds a bit crazy, but I can see the reasoning behind that, and dare I say, I actually believe. Now as an adult, I still crave and eat soup on hot days. I can’t shake it. Hence why I’m sharing a soup recipe while it’s still currently the dead of summer. Whether you make it now or save it for much cooler days to come, I know you’ll enjoy it.
Let’s start with the beef. Traditional stuffed cabbage is filled with ground beef mixed with rice and spices and maybe an egg to blind it all. So to mimic that, we’re going to make little meatballs for the soup. In a large bowl, mix together the ground sirloin, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes.
Give it a mix until well incorporated and then portion out into small meatballs about the size of a rounded teaspoon. You want them small and rough looking.
**Note: I like the idea of them not looking too perfect. Don’t worry about rolling them between your palms and making them super smooth. Make them rough looking!**
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat with the oil, once hot, add the meatballs in a single layer and cook until browned on both sides. We’re not looking to cook them all the way, just develop some color. They’ll continue to cook later on.
**Note: Don’t over-crowd the pot, so you might have to cook the meatballs in batches. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon and continue to cook the rest of the meatballs!**
Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook until softened, and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Then add in the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute or so.
**Tip: Adding the tomato paste and letting it cook for a bit really develops the flavor of the paste. It’s darken and just give the soup a rich tomato taste.**
Add the apple cider vinegar, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken stock. Season with the rest of the salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Return the meatballs to the soup, lower the flame and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add the cabbage to the pot and cook until it begins to wilt, about 8 to 10 minutes longer. Give it a taste and adjust seasonings accordingly, adding more salt or pepper as needed.
To serve the stew, place some cooked white rice in serving bowls and then ladle in some of the soup on top of the rice. Garnish with a bit of fresh parsley and enjoy!
I like serving this with rice because traditional stuffed cabbage rolls have rice mixed into the ground beef filling. Plus, I just happen to really love rice and any chance I get to eat it, makes me very happy.
This soup can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer for later on. Just allow the soup to cool completely and then pour into a freezer-safe container or heavy duty freezer storage bag. Freeze for up to 3 months and then just thaw overnight in the fridge, pour into a pot and heat through over moderate heat.
This would also be really great with a dollop of sour cream right before serving. The creaminess of the sour cream will cool off the soup and just finish it really nicely. It might not be a traditional cabbage roll ingredient, but would really take it over the edge. Also, if you’re not a beef eater, feel free to make it with either ground chicken, ground turkey or even ground pork! I’m trying to give you as many options as possible so you don’t have any excuses not to make it.
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1½ teaspoons black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups chicken stock (or beef stock)
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 small head of cabbage, roughly chopped (or ½ a medium head)
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, for garnish
- 1 cup cooked rice, for serving
- In a large bowl, combine the ground sirloin, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes and ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper until evenly incorporated. Portion out into very small meatball, roughly shaped to about a big rounded teaspoon. They don't have to be smooth or perfect; you want them to look misshapen a bit.
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat with the oil. Once hot, add the meatballs in a single layer and cook for about 4 minutes on heat side. You don't want to over-crowd your pot, so you might have to cook the meatballs in batches. Also, you don't need them to cook all the way, just develop some color on all sides. They'll finish cooking later on.
- Remove the meatballs onto a plate with a slotted spoon. Then add the onions and garlic to the hot pot and cook until softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, stock, tomatoes (with their juices), and tomato sauce. Return the meatballs to the soup. Season with the remaining salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the cabbage and cook until it has wilted slightly, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the stew with cooked rice and a sprinkling of fresh parsley. Enjoy!