German-Style Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage Soup

Total Time:
3 hr
15 min
1 hr
1 hr 45 min

4 to 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 slices good quality smoky bacon, chopped or very thinly sliced across
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway or cumin seed
  • 1 Braeburn, Northern Spy apple or other firm slightly tart variety, finely chopped
  • 1 small red cabbage, quartered, cored and very thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Cheesecloth or loose tea teabag filled with:
  • 5 to 6 juniper berries
  • 3 to 4 whole cloves
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • Curl orange rind
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar or wine vinegar
  • 2 rounded tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • Kosher salt
  • Special equipment: Kitchen twine

Serve with grilled Swiss or extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese on pumpernickel or whole grain bread.

Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, and bacon. Brown and crisp bacon and remove to a plate, draining off some fat if you have more than enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pot.

Add the onions, carrots, caraway, and apples, and stir a few minutes. Then wilt in the cabbage and season with black pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg. Cover with the lid slightly ajar and wilt cabbage while you prepare the sachet. Fill the cheesecloth with the juniper berries, cloves, bay leaves, orange rind, and cinnamon, and use kitchen twine to tie it to the side of the pot. Drop it into the pot and stir into the cabbage. Add the vinegar, keeping your head back from the hot pot, brown sugar, stock, and water, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until cabbage is very tender and soup has thickened. Stir the bacon bits back in, then adjust the salt to your taste.

Cool and store for a make-ahead meal, or serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

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    This soup did deliver. I was looking for the Jewish style cabbage soup from the Jewish deli's in the Detroit area when growing up. I was intrigued by some of the ingredients like cinnamon, clove, orange rind, juniper berries and nutmeg. But those ingredients, and the others listed really hit the flavor profile i was looking for. It was really good, and my husband really liked it too. I did make a few changes like adding a can of tomato sauce, chopped stewed tomatoes and a few potatoes to all the vegetables. I also used prosciutto instead of bacon, and red wine vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar. This is a hearty soup, and very satisfying.
    MMMMmmmm! I love this soup! It's even better the second day. The recipe didn't say how much 'water' to add so I added about a cup or two. Also didn't have orange zest so added lemon. I love it! Will definitely make again.
    Despite the cabbage, apple and onion it was a thin soup. By the time we were finished serving we had more cabbage tha broth. I made it for a progressive dinner group and my guest said it was good.
    Tasty and easy. Interesting complex flavors that hit you at different times in each bite. Good rainy day soup. RR suggests grilled swiss on pumpernickle to go with it - so I am going to ruben up that baby with some grilled onions and thousand island...'nuff said.
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