Boiled Cabbage Soup

By Henrietta Green

Boiled Cabbage Soup

A hearty winter soup, don’t be put off by its name. Admittedly twice-boiled Cabbage Soup does not have quite the same chic ring as Ribollita, but that's exactly what it is. The Italians cook it one day and heat it up the next and insist on using cavalo nero, bitter-sweet black (or Italian as it’s sometimes called) kale. Over here, you can usually find it at a farmers market otherwise use a crinkly Savoy or juicy Winter cabbage instead.


  • 50g/2oz green streaky bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 150ml/1/4 pint extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 leeks, finely sliced
  • 2 turnips, peeled and sliced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • Sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4-6 black peppercorns
  • Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium size cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • In a heavy based saucepan or stock pot, sauté the bacon with the onion in 2 tbsp of the oil for a few minutes, then add the carrot, leeks, turnips tomato and 2 of the garlic cloves until soft. Add the sugar (if using), rosemary, half of the thyme and bay leaf and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add about 2 litres/31/2 pints water, season with salt and throw in the peppercorns. Cover and simmer gently for about an hour. Then stir in the cabbage and simmer for a further 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile heat the remaining olive oil in a small pan and gently saute the parsley with the remaining garlic and thyme for a couple of minutes, taking care the garlic does not burn or it will taste bitter. Once the cabbage is cooked, add this mixture into the soup, adjust the seasoning and remove from the heat.
  • The next day pre-heat the oven to 180C/ 350F/gas 4, scatter the slices of the red onion on top of the soup and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the onion has softened.


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