Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandma. She could make delicious food out of very little. Everything was hearty. Everything used simple ingredients. Everything made you feel cared for and loved. Recipes lived in her head. She’d add a pinch of this or that. For her, cooking was visual, led by taste, and was built upon years of making the same recipes over and over again.
This soup is inspired by Slovakian Kapustová Polievka, or Cabbage Soup, and maintains many of the ingredients of traditional recipes. While many recipes for this soup involve no meat, others do. There are regional (and personal) differences in how it is prepared. While I incorporated some traditional elements, I also took some liberties. I added smoked paprika to conjure the taste of smoked pork. I added red miso to create a robust, meaty base. And while there’s often flour used to thicken the soup, I decided to skip this and keep the soup gluten free. All-in-all, it’s a very tasty soup that keeps you coming back for more.
I did not add a sweetener to this soup, because the tomato sauce I used was already on the sweet side. Not all tomato sauces have the same flavor profile, so if yours is more on the savory or salty side, you may want to add a bit of agave or sugar. Taste to determine how much you need, but start with a pinch! A little sweetener goes a long way.
In the end, this soup is easy to make, uses simple ingredients, is chock-full of flavor and tastes great year round! It’s great when it’s hot outside and you don’t feel like standing over the stove (it cooks up fast!). It’s awesome for the dead of winter when fresh vegetables are hard to come by, but you want a healthy meal! For a variation, add peeled potatoes and/or carrots in with the sautéing onions, just make sure to boil the soup longer to allow the vegetables to cook through (~15 minutes).
Slavic Cabbage Soup
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbsp vegan butter
1 medium head of green cabbage, cored and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
2 ½ cups water
1 Tbsp red miso
2-3 tsp white distilled vinegar
Salt, to taste
Sweetener (agave, turbinado sugar, suger, etc), optional – see note above
1. In a large, heavy pot or dutch oven, add onions, vegan butter and a dash of salt. Sauté over medium heat for 3 minutes or until soft.
2. Add the cabbage, caraway seeds, smoked paprika, and nutmeg to the pot. Over medium-high heat, stir constantly until cabbage wilts down and cooks through (~7 minutes).
3. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, and red miso. Bring to a boil, and boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings (more salt? some sweetener, if needed? more vinegar?). Serve.