Susan’s Cabbage Vegetable Soup

Obviously, I am a fan of soup.  This is one of my longtime favorites that my mother used to make.  One day, after being on my own for a while, I had a craving for her soup, so went ahead and made it.  How hard could it be?  Cabbage Vegetable Soup – the name says it all.  However, it tasted NOTHING like her soup, there was something missing.  I chalked it up to a mistake I had made, somehow, but didn’t know what.  I made the soup again, same thing, something was missing, and it wasn’t a vegetable or beef ingredient (because I know that she usually did not use any meat products at all).  So, finally, admitting defeat, I called her.  And yes, there was a secret ingredient: cloves!  I told her I didn’t like cloves, hated them, how could it be the secret ingredient?  The key, she said, is to only use a tiny, tiny bit.  One to two whole cloves in the entire pot, remove then at end; or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves.  Still not believing her, I went to Albertson’s, bought some more soup ingredients and the cloves.  I made the soup, and was shocked to discover that was the missing ingredient.  It tasted just like her soup!

Now, for all you other people who say that they don’t like cloves, if you like hotdogs and Campbell’s tomato soup, you do like cloves!  It is what gives hotdogs that nuanced taste that makes them a little bit different from any other pork product out there!   And, clove is also the reason your homemade tomato soup tastes nothing like Campbell’s tomato soup out of the can, which, I happen to love with a good grilled cheese.  So, yes, the food industry has long been putting cloves into your favorite foods and not telling you!  It’s one of those mystery “spices” listed in the ingredients.  Now, you know their secret.  So, if you decide to make your own hotdogs one day, which is a popular item amongst culinary adventurists, do not look at all the hot dog recipes and decide to leave the cloves out.  You’ll just end up with a porky-oniony tasting sausage.

Back to Mom’s Cabbage Vegetable Soup.  You can use beef soup bones if you want.  You can use any combination of vegetables you want.  Usually, we just use the standards: onions, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and a tomato product of your choice (crushed, diced or just plain sauce).  Throw in a bay leaf, some salt & pepper, and of course, the cloves.  When I made this, I had a craving for baby limas and the old-fashioned vegetable mix, plus, I had a half of a cabbage and a leek leftover from St. Patrick’s Day.

I like to top my soup with grated cheese and/or yogurt, and, if I’m craving some heat, a little Sriracha.  Delicious!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onions, minced
  • 1 leek, sliced (green part, too)
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced or diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium head cabbage, shredded fine (6 to 8 cups)
  • 2 carrots, diced (about 11-2 cups), optional
  • 1 potato your choice, diced (about 1-2 cups), optional
  • 1 14-ounce crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 small bag baby lima beans or 1 small bag old-fashioned mixed s0up vegetables (or both)
  • 1 to 2 whole cloves or /14 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (yes!)
  • 1 to 2 bay leaves
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a 6 quart pot (at least that size- I actually needed had to switch to a larger pot, about a 2 gallon or 8 quart pot), saute onions and or leeks, celery, garlic in olive oil..  Add cabbage and saute for 5 to 19 minutes.  Add remaining vegetables, tomato sauce, spices (not salt), and cover with water by about an inch or two.  Simmer for about an hour.  Add water as needed.  Remove cloves and bay leaves.  Season to taste.

Top with cheese or sour cream or yogurt.


Freezes well.

I freeze mine in quart freezer bags, not the zip type, the liquid can leak thru once thawed.

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