Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Soup — A hearty comfort food soup recipe the whole family will love. If you think that soup can’t be a meal, guess again! This Crockpot cabbage roll soup is chock full of bacon, ground beef, green cabbage, rice, carrots, fire roasted tomatoes, and more! Perfect for chilly weather, busy weeknights, and the leftovers freeze great!
Crockpot Cabbage Soup Recipe
When you’re ready for a comfort food recipe the whole family will love, my slow cooker cabbage roll soup recipe checks all the boxes. It’s especially good when the weather is chilly and you’re looking for something extra warm in your belly.
There’s bacon and ground beef for plenty of protein and flavor. Along with the protein there’s green cabbage. You can’t have cabbage roll soup with it after all!
Because vegetables are a good thing, there’s also onions, carrots, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce for flavor and texture.
Rice provides a heartiness and an all-in-one meal quality that keeps you satisfied.
Everything simmers in your slow cooker in savory beef broth along with Worcestershire sauce and a variety of spices included smoked paprika. I use fire-roasted diced tomatoes to play up the smoky notes.
Whether you want to start your Crockpot a few hours before you’re ready for dinner or earlier in the day and time it correctly, this is a fantastic and naturally gluten-free meal for hectic weeknights especially during the school week.
Make sure that if you’re a cabbage roll fan that you check out my 30-Minute One-Pot Cabbage Roll recipe. It’s a cross between deconstructed cabbage rolls and a thick soup almost like a stew, made in one pot, and ready in just 30 minutes!
Ingredients in Crockpot Cabbage Soup
When making unstuffed cabbage roll soup in a slow cooker, you’ll need the following basic and easy to find ingredients:
- Ground beef
- Green cabbage
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Canned tomato sauce
- Beef broth (reduced sodium recommended)
- Long grain rice
- Worcestershire sauce
- Smoked paprika
- Dried thyme
- Bay leaves
- Parsley for garnishing, optional
- Marjoram for garnishing, optional
How to Make Crockpot Cabbage Roll Soup
It’s so incredibly easy to make cabbage Crockpot soup. Just follow these easy steps:
Step 1: Add the bacon and onion to a skillet and cook until the bacon is nearly done and the onion has softened.
Step 2: Drain off most of the grease and set the bacon and onion aside.
Step 3: Brown the ground beef.
Step 4: Add the bacon, onion, browned ground beef, and all remaining ingredients to your slow cooker.
Step 5: Cook as directed, remove the bay leaves, garnish, and serve!
What Size Slow Cooker Should I Use?
I recommend a Crock-Pot in the range of 7 to 8-quarts.
This recipe makes a hefty quantity of food and anything smaller than 7 quarts I fear will be too small.
What Temperature Should I Cook the Soup?
It’s up to you whether you want to cook your cabbage soup with hamburger on high for about 3 hours OR on low for about 5 to 6 hours.
Either temperature setting works, it just depends on how much time you have.
Protein Substitutions for Slow Cooker Cabbage Soup
As written, Crockpot cabbage roll soup is made with both bacon and ground beef.
However, for a twist you can:
- Replace half the ground beef with either ground sausage (either Italian, regular, or a spicy variety).
- Substitute ground chicken or ground turkey for the ground beef.
Take note though that because beef has much more fat, you will sacrifice a bit of the richness and depth of flavor if you go this route.
What Kind of Rice is Best in Cabbage Roll Soup?
For my Crockpot cabbage soup, I use long grain rice. Add it uncooked and dry to your slow cooker.
Because all rice absorbs slightly different amounts of liquid and can cook at different rates, I can’t predict what will happen if you use another type of rice.
Therefore, stick with long grain rice for tried and true results.
How to Serve Crockpot Cabbage Soup
While slow cooker ground beef and cabbage soup is great as is, it’s even better with a bit of freshly shaved Parmesan cheese on it.
I also like to garnish the soup with a bit of fresh parsley and marjoram for a nice pop of green color although they’re optional.
How to Store Cabbage Roll Soup
Slow cooker cabbage roll soup will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days and in the freezer for up to 4 months.
For anyone wanting to meal prep and stash away some freezer meals, this soup is a gem for that. Freeze it in individual portion-sized containers for easier thawing and reheating.
Tip: Use freezer and microwave-safe containers to make your life easier!
Tips for the Best Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup
Testing for doneness: When checking your soup to see if it’s done, a nice aspect of this soup is that both the bacon and ground beef get cooked first in a skillet so you don’t have to worry about that.
Check it and when the cabbage has wilted and the level of broth has reduced, and the suggested amount of time has elapsed (3 hours on high or 5-6 on low), it’s likely done.
Broth amount: I start with 6 cups of beef broth but if the soup isn’t brothy enough for you, feel free to add one or two additional cups of broth midway through or near the end of the cooking time.
All rice absorbs slightly different amounts of liquid and personal preferences for brothiness vary as well which is why I start modestly because you can always add more beef broth later.
Broth type: Additionally I suggest using reduced sodium beef broth so you can control the salt levels and the slow cooker cabbage roll soup doesn’t get overly salty. You can always add additional salt at the end if desired but you can never take it away.
Transporting the soup: This is a great soup to transport to an event or gathering because everyone loves it.
You can transport it in the slow cooker once it’s done and just plug in at your destination. Or get everything in the slow cooker and ready to go, and then plug in and actually slow cook it at your destination.
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- 1 pound thick-cut bacon, diced small
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced small
- 1 pound ground beef* (See Notes)
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and diced small
- 5 cups green cabbage, chopped into bite-sized pieces and loosely measured not packed
- 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes (fire-roasted recommended although plain are fine)
- 16 ounces canned tomato sauce
- 6 to 8 cups beef broth** (See Notes)
- 3/4 cup long grain rice
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 to 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (recommended, but regular may be substiuted)
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley for garnishing, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh marjoram for garnishing, optional
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional for garnishing
- To a large skillet, add the bacon, onion, and cook over medium-heat until the bacon is nearly cooked and the onion is soft and translucent, stir frequently.
- Drain off most of the oil and discard. Remove the bacon, onion, and set aside.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet and brown it using the remaining oil. Stir and crumble the beef as it cooks to ensure even cooking.
- To a 7 to 8-quart slow cooker, add the bacon, onion, browned ground beef, all remaining ingredients (except optional garnishes), and stir to combine. Tips - Start with 6 cups of the beef broth; you can always add more later. Place the bay leaves into the slow cooker last, on top, so they are easier to find and remove later.
- Cook on high for 3 hours OR on low for 5 to 6 hours, or until done. While cooking, if you notice that the overall level of broth is low or lower than you'd like, add the remaining beef broth (up to 2 cups, or as needed).
- After the soup has cooked, remove the bay leaves, stir, taste, and check for seasoning balance. Tip - If the soup tastes at all flat or like it's lacking something, it likely needs more salt so don't be afraid to salt it as necessary. Additionally, if you want to play up the smoky aspect, add additional smoked paprika as desired. To add a tiny bit of heat without making it spicy, a couple tiny shakes of cayenne pepper will do the trick.
- Optionally garnish with parsley and/or marjoram, or Parmesan, as desired and serve immediately. Soup will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Use freezer and microwave-safe containers for ease.
*I recommend using 80/20 ground beef rather than the extra lean varieties for enhanced flavor and richness. However, you can use leaner ground beef as well as ground turkey or ground chicken, noting that you will sacrifice flavor and the fattiness and richness of mouthfeel in doing so.
**I start with 6 cups of reduced sodium beef broth but if the soup isn’t brothy enough for you, feel free to add one or two additional cups of broth midway through or near the end of the cooking time. All rice absorbs slightly different amounts of liquid and personal preferences for brothiness vary as well which is why I start modestly because you can always add more beef broth later.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 409Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 71mgSodium: 4595mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 37g
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