This sweet and sour red cabbage soup is super simple to make and, besides the dill, it uses pantry and fridge staples. The cumin and caraway seeds give the dish a borsch-like feel, which I love. Sweet apples and apple cider vinegar help bring the sweet/sour tang that is so iconic of amazing cabbage dishes and will have you coming back for more!

Serve this soup with rye or gluten-free sourdough bread and sour cream or cashew cream. If you have lots of cabbage on hand, try it in a rainbow salad or with easy baked yam, too.

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Apart from some of the herbs and spices, these are pantry staple ingredients, and those add-ins can be changed to suit what you have on hand.

Red cabbage soup ingredients with labels.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Cabbage: this should be a fairly small red or purple cabbage (they're the same thing, but sometimes the name is different depending on region). Make sure to cut the white core before shredding.
  • Carrots: substitute beets or even potatoes for the carrots if preferred.
  • Herbs: dill is fantastic here and parsley is equally good, but you could use another soft herb like marjoram too.
  • Vinegar: if you don't have apple cider vinegar, sub a smaller amount of white wine vinegar in its place, but don't leave it out.
  • Caraway: if you don't like caraway (it's well worth adding) substitute more cumin in its place.

Step by Step

Cabbage soup steps 1 to 4, cooking the vegetables.

Step 1: heat the oil in a large pot and add the onions, carrot, and apple.

Step 2: cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent.

Step 3: stir in the spices and cook briefly.

Step 4: add the cabbage to the pot.

Cabbage soup steps 5 to 8, adding spices and broth and cooking.

Step 5: add maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and stock, stirring to release any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Step 6: add the cloves and bay leaf in a little herb sachet along with the salt and pepper.

Step 7: boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes.

Step 8: serve hot, topped with fresh herbs.

Top Tips

  • Don't worry about sticking: some apple or onion might stick to the bottom of the pot during cooking, but don't worry. Adding the liquid ingredients will deglaze the pot and release any of these flavourful bits.
  • Shred with a machine: if you have a food processor with a shredding attachment, pull it out for this recipe! Shredding cabbage by hand is time consuming and using a food processor is super quick and easy.
  • Use the spice bag: bay leaves are easy to find and remove after cooking, but cloves are not, and you don't want to crunch down on a full clove, trust me.

How to Store

Storage: keep leftover soup in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

Freezing: transfer fully cooled soup to airtight containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

A pot of red cabbage soup with fresh parsley on top.


Is red cabbage more nutritious than green?

Like lots of brightly coloured vegetables, red cabbage contains more vitamins and antioxidants than its green counterpart, so you could argue that it is indeed more nutritious (but both are good).

Is red cabbage a superfood?

I would argue that almost every whole fruit and vegetable is a superfood, but red cabbage is packed with antioxidants and vitamins, along with important fibre and nutrients, so it definitely fits into a typical idea of a superfood.

Should red cabbage be cooked?

It can be served either cooked or raw, depending on what you like most. Coleslaw is made with raw cabbage, for example, but it is obviously cooked when used in red cabbage soup.

More Vegan Soups

If you make this Purple Cabbage Soup or any other vegan soup recipes on Wholehearted Eats, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more WHE, follow along on Instagram or subscribe for new posts via email.


A bowl of purple cabbage soup topped with sour cream and herbs.
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage Soup

Sweet and sour red cabbage soup is super simple to make and, besides the dill, it uses pantry and fridge staples. The spices give the dish a borsch-like feel.
Reprinted The First Mess by Laura Wright. Copyright © 2017. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Sophie


  • Tea strainer or cheesecloth
  • Large pot
  • Grater or food processor


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion small dice
  • 1 medium carrot small dice
  • 1 medium sweet apple peeled and small dice
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 small red cabbage finely shredded (4-5 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Chopped dill or parsley (or both!) to garnish


  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot to medium and add the onions, carrot, and apple. Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, or about four minutes.
    1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 large yellow onion, 1 medium carrot, 1 medium sweet apple
  • Add the rosemary, cumin, caraway, smoked paprika, and ground nutmeg, stirring until they become fragrant - about 30 seconds or so. Next add the cabbage.
    1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 small red cabbage
  • Add the maple syrup and apple cider vinegar along with the stock, and stir well to remove any bits that have stuck to the pot.
    3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Combine the cloves and bay leaf in a tea strainer or a little sachet of cheesecloth and add to the pot along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
    5 whole cloves, 1 bay leaf, Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower it to simmer and cooked covered for about 45 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.
  • Serve hot with the chopped fresh herbs.
    Chopped dill or parsley (or both!) to garnish


Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 210kcal


  1. This is a really gorgeous post! Can't wait to get my hands on a copy of her book : ) The colour of that stew is divine.

    1. Thank you so much, Ruby! The stew is really the most brilliant shade of purple. You're totally going to love the book, it's stunning <3

  2. The cookbook looks amazing, really love the cover 🙂 And what a delicious recipe, thanks for sharing <3

    1. Thank you so much, Laura and Nora! The book is truly stunning, and this soup was delicious. I think I had three bowls of it one day <3

  3. What a beautiful post + words Sophie! You described Laura so well, and her book. Isn't it pure magic?! You have to try that sunflower dressing ;). Hope you are doing well girl, and getting ready to do some frolicking this spring! <3

    1. AH, thanks Jessie! The book is such a gem, and I cannot wait to eat my way though it. You made that sunflower dressing looks so darn yummy. I am super ready for some spring frolics, fingers crossed that the snow is gone for the year!

  4. Oh, Sophie, I loved reading this, and what a beautiful homage (as Sarah said)! I remember once Laura commented on a photo of mine (I made her sunset lentils) and I was sooo nervous and excited that she responded...she's such an down to earth and inspiring person. So looking forward to receiving my copy of her book...

    1. I delighted to hear this, Heidi! It's such a wonderful feeling when you hear from, or reading a comment from, someone you admire. And to find out they're a nice person in real life? Big time bonus. FYI, you're totally going to LOVE the book. It's absolutely stunning <3

  5. What a beautiful homage to Laura's cookbook! I know it's going to be a staple on my shelves, too 🙂

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