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My Mother's Cabbage Soup (meat)

Julie Weisman

My mother makes a delicious cabbage soup. I had never made it, but felt that I should. So, on a snowy day when we couldn’t really go anywhere, I decided to get the recipe and make the soup. I called my mother for the recipe. She said, “First I take the soup bones and the meat and boil it up for a couple of hours. No, first I sauté the onions in my big soup pot, then put in the bones and the meat.” How many soup bones do you use? “Well, I use four – because I need to have one for each of my grand-dogs – but you only have two dogs so you probably only need two bones.” I did not think I could write up the recipe saying: Use as many soup bones as you have dogs. So, I attempted to quantify amounts. The thing to remember is that it would be hard to mess this soup up. So if you have more or less dogs, it is ok. If you want it meatier, use a bigger piece of brisket. It will be delicious.

Food Editor's Note: This is delicious! I made it with almost 3 pounds of brisket, as I love a good, meaty soup. But you definitely need a very large pot – 12 quarts would be best. I made the beef stock in an 8-quart pot, my largest, but I had to do the second phase in two pots! You can make the beef stock in advance and refrigerate or freeze it until you are ready to continue. Cut up the tomatoes before adding to the pot, or just break them up towards the end of the cooking when they are soft. This recipe makes a lot of soup – about 6 quarts, which serves 12 or more.


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped coarsely
2 bay leaves
2 beef bones
2 pounds brisket
5 quarts water
4 large cans (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with the juice
1 pound carrots, cut into large slices
3-4 parsnips, cut into slices
1 medium cabbage, shredded
2 – 2 1/2 large spoonfuls brown sugar (by large spoon I mean a large serving spoon)
Juice of 1 lemon

Sauté the onion and bay leaves in a large soup pot. (I used a 10-quart pot and I needed all of it.) Add the beef bones, brisket and water to the pot and boil, uncovered, for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Skim the scum off periodically.

Remove the bones and the brisket. First make sure the meat is cooked by testing it with a fork. If the fork goes through easily it is done. (I strained the stock through a fine strainer lined with paper towel to remove all the solids.)

Add the remaining ingredients to the stock. Cut the meat into hunks, remove any fat, and put back in pot. Boil and cook uncovered for another 2 hours.

If you like, boil some potatoes separately and add them to the soup before serving. (Do not freeze the soup with the potatoes – they will get mushy.)

The soup will cook down quite a bit. You will end up with about 6 quarts. You can serve it right away or you can put it in smaller containers and freeze it. If it is thick when you defrost/reheat it, add some water.

Serves 10-12

Julie Weisman is an indispensable staff member of ShalomBoston.com and a great cook. She gets a lot of her recipes from her mother and aunt, also fabulous cooks!

My Mother's Cabbage Soup


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