Parmesan Cabbage Soup Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Updated Oct. 11, 2023

Parmesan Cabbage Soup Recipe (1)

Total Time
40 minutes
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
55 minutes
Read community notes

This warming, nourishing soup, thickened with rice, is full of soft strands of green cabbage. Parmesan is used here in two ways: The rinds are simmered in with the broth, and the cheese is grated and sprinkled on top, adding complexity and body. If you like a kick, you can increase the red-pepper flakes, or leave them out entirely for a supremely gentle broth. Add a squeeze of lemon right at the end if you like your soup on the tart side.

Featured in: When Winter Meets Spring, It’s Time for These Vegetarian Soups

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Yield:4 to 6 servings

  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2medium leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1small head of green cabbage (about 1¼ pounds), cored and coarsely chopped (about 9 cups)
  • teaspoons fine sea or table salt, plus more to taste
  • ½teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2quarts vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1cup long-grain rice
  • 5thyme sprigs
  • 2Parmesan rinds, or use another 2 tablespoons grated cheese
  • 1lemon
  • ¼cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1cup chopped fresh dill or cilantro, or a combination

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

385 calories; 13 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 51 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 11 grams sugars; 17 grams protein; 1207 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Parmesan Cabbage Soup Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    In a stock pot or large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and red-pepper flakes (if using), and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cabbage, salt and pepper, and cook until cabbage wilts slightly and begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes.

  2. Stir in stock, rice and thyme. If using the Parmesan rinds, add them now, and bring everything to a simmer. Cook, partly covered, over medium-low heat until cabbage and rice are very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

  3. Step


    Discard thyme sprigs and Parmesan rinds. Using a Microplane or other fine grater, grate in the zest from the lemon. Stir in grated Parmesan and dill.

  4. Step


    Halve the lemon and squeeze in the juice from half of it. Cut the remaining lemon half into wedges for serving. Taste soup and add more salt and pepper, if needed. To serve, ladle into soup bowls, and garnish with more grated cheese, a lemon wedge and more red-pepper flakes, if you like.



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Cooking Notes

Gina L.

This soup is really delicious. The cabbage and leeks pair so well together, the Parmesan adds depth of flavor and the rice gives it tooth. All the additions really layer it nicely. Winner dinner!


Added a can of great northern beans to make it a bit more substantial and served with crusty bread. So good!

Mary McDowell

I had all the ingredients in the refrigerator for this and love a good soup, so I tried it exactly as written, including the Parmesan rinds. It was so easy and so delicious!! I tasted it (yum) but since I also had some diced ham in the refrigerator that needed using up I added about a cup. It didn’t need it but it sure tasted good in there. At first I thought it needed something else, like maybe a teaspoon of ground mustard. But the more I ate it I thought no, leave it alone. Delicious!


Do not discard the parmesan rinds (step 3). Cut them into a tiny dice and put them back. They are a chewy cheesy treat.


I saved this recipe to make for the next time someone in my family gets sick--it seems like the perfect sniffling-laying-in-bed-all-day kind of nourishment. Oh heck, forget that. I'm just going to make it for dinner tonight!


My daughter called it "risotto soup," which she meant as a compliment. We all really enjoyed it. I used basil because I had some on hand and that worked really well with the lemon. I would caramelize the cabbage for about 10 minutes longer at a slightly lower temperature next time, but otherwise would make again as is. A delicious "risotto soup!"


Had half a cabbage in the fridge. No leeks, but used onion. Replaced fresh dill with dried.Sooo delicious!


This recipe is perfect for driving the winter blues away! 1C rice is a little bit much for my taste. Going to try 3/4th or 1/2C next time I make it.


Made this tonight - delicious and wintery! Added a handful of dried shiitake with the stock for an extra umami kick, and used bay leaves and thyme for herbs (no dill/cilantro). I reckon a handful of frozen peas at the end would work well too!


We used brown basmati rice (increased the cooking time) and it was fantastic! The lemon and Parmesan flavors melded beautifully and the rice added substantiality and wholesomeness. Just a wonderful dish and great the next day.


I made this soup yesterday. It makes a lot, I halved the recipe and still it was a lot considering how much the rice expands. I had to add more broth. Delicious and healthy! The lemon was very important. I added a bit of tomato paste at the beginning, and caramelized it and it came out very nice. Good for cold weather!

Muddy Boots

I made this with barley instead of rice. I used dried thyme and chicken broth as that was all I had. I kept the pot covered though because I used a quart and a half of chicken broth instead of 2 qts. It was creamy and so satisfying. I will make this again.

Lisa C

Don’t toss out the rinds! Chop into tiny cubes and enjoy the flavor and texture.

paula d

There is a lot of rice for the amount of broth. Beware the soup sitting on the stove for any extra time (folding laundry) and it becomes more like a congee/risotto. Flavour is good. Not spectacular. Likely won’t make again.


I cooked it as directed and thought it was bland. My brutally honest husband said it tasted like the soup Charlie in the Chocolate Factory and his family ate before they won the Golden Ticket. I think it would be an ok soup if you are sick.


Amazing with barley instead of rice


Added a finely chopped bulb of fennel as I had less than 9cupa of cabbage & a grind of smoked ghost pepper chile flakes and very slight smokiness was wonderful.

Julie in Oakland

Such an easy, delicious recipe, perfect for when the fridge is bare. I didn't have leaks, but an onion was a great sub. I got a good browning going on the edges of the cabbage, then deglazed with a bit of wine before adding stock to get some acid in there early. Half a recipe made a lot. It gave me French vibes, so I used parsley for the dill I didn't have, and I gilded the lily with a lil' plop of creme fraiche. Melissa Clark's recipes are pretty much always delicious and inspiring.


The base for this recipe was a good start. After reading other reviews, many who wrote that the soup was not extraordinary, I reduced the broth to 1 quart, added 1/4 lb (very little and no longer vegetarian) hot Italian sausage, replaced the rice w/orzo, and added 3 handfuls of spinach for color (it was an unappetizing beige). We like it.


Good as written but after reading other’s comments, added 1/4 lb of (not much, but no longer vegetarian) hot Italian sausage, orzo instead of rice and fresh spinach for color. Pretty beige as written. Also reduced broth for stronger flavor. We loved it.

very tasty

Very good. Cook for closer to 20 for the rice. Go easy on better than bouillon very salty


One of the most satisfying meals I’ve had in years. Would suggest increasing broth or reducing rice (or adding pre-cooked rice) as there was no broth left by the time it had cooled.


A forgiving and nourishing recipe lightly reminiscent of French onion soup. I really riffed: butter, cabbage, extra onions, parmesan, way more garlic, a few chicken bouillon cubes, water, a couple bay leaves. That’s it. Turned out phenomenally.Note: I took Cleary’s suggestion from another NYT soup recipe to throw some olive oil, salt, and pepper onto the sliced cabbage and put it in the oven for 10-15 min at 400 before adding it to the soup. Did it seal the deal.


loved this, i added chicken thighs which i shredded at the end


Made as written and it was super tasty. Don't think it needed the extra lemon to serve but I used about a whole lemons worth of juice in the soup itself. Not massively filling but deeply nourishing!


Did not love the dill in this - but also cilantro doesn’t sound great - I think parsley goes better with the flavors. Agree with the comments about chopping up and adding the Parmesan rind, I had never done that before but it was exquisite. Also used 2/3 cup brown basmati.

Sara C.

I have made this recipe a few times now and each time, the soup comes out way too thick, I love the flavor pairings and all the ingredients, but I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I've even added extra broth each time. Help!

Tom of Poland

What it lacks in looks this soup makes upfor with deep flavor. The lemon juice accent is a very pleasant grace note. I had leftover quinoa on hand which subbed very nicely for rice.


Delicious! I sweated bacon and used that fat for sauteeing the onions & cabbage instead of butter. Pulled out the crispy bacon and then sprinkled on top for serving, which added a bit more flavor.


This was wonderful for my sick family. If I make it again I’ll use less rice.

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Parmesan Cabbage Soup Recipe (2024)


Why does my cabbage soup taste so bland? ›

Not Adding Acid

If a soup is tasting bland in the bowl, consider adding acid rather than salt. A squeeze of lemon or lime, or a dash of yogurt or sour cream can add brightness to the bowl.

Does Parmesan rind dissolve in soup? ›

The rind will become malleable in the heat, but won't completely disintegrate, so be sure to remove it from the pot before serving. For an added bonus, cut the softened cheesy bits into smaller morsels and stir them back into the pot to enjoy as tiny Parmesan rind dumplings.

How much weight can you lose on the 7 day cabbage soup diet? ›

The Cabbage Soup Diet is a short-term weight loss diet. Proponents of the diet say that it can help you lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a single week, but many health experts warn that the diet does not promote health and wellness, and results are unsustainable.

What is a substitute for Parmesan rind? ›

While an Asiago rind made the soup taste unappealingly gamey, tasters agreed that rinds from both Pecorino Romano and Gruyère added a savory flavor comparable to that of the Parmesan rind. If you don't have a rind, any one of these cheeses is also an acceptable substitute.

Why does my stomach hurt after eating cabbage soup? ›

“Additionally, cruciferous vegetables—like cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts—contain raffinose, an indigestible sugar. As it's fermented by bacteria in the gut, gas is produced, which is why you may experience flatulence and discomfort after eating these foods.

What happens to your body when you eat cabbage soup? ›

The cabbage soup diet stimulates the body's metabolism and fat mobilization. This diet limits your calorie intake and causes your body to burn fat for energy. Low sodium, low calories, and high fiber allow you to lose weight faster if you followed a reasonable long-term dietary plan.

How long do you leave parmesan rind in soup? ›

Add parmesan rind to the stock and simmer for 10 mins.

Are you supposed to grate the rind of Parmesan? ›

Some people use a micro planer and grate the rind itself and use it like grated parmesan, but I save the rinds for other dishes. If you've been throwing away your rinds, you've been missing out on putting them to a delicious second use. Here are 10 ways to use the rinds: Throw them into tomato sauce when cooking.

Why do you avoid simmering your soup after adding the cheese? ›

Cheese can curdle when added to soup due to the high temperatures and acidity in the soup. The proteins in cheese are sensitive to heat and acid, causing them to separate and form curds.

What is the Dolly Parton diet? ›

You may have heard of something called the Dolly Parton Diet — which consists of eating cabbage soup (yes, cabbage soup!) as your main meals along with fruit and vegetables. It's also known as the TWA Stewardess Diet and, well, the Cabbage Soup Diet.

What can't you eat on the cabbage soup diet? ›

The cabbage soup diet allows you to eat all of the cabbage soup you like in addition to adding certain foods on specific days throughout the week. No bread, alcohol, or carbonated beverages, including diet sodas.

Which soup is best for belly fat? ›

5 Best Soups That Will Help To Burn Belly Fat
  1. Vegetable soup. Lean protein from chicken combined with a variety of vegetables can make a satisfying and low-calorie soup that can help you feel full and satisfied.
  2. Chicken and vegetable soup. ...
  3. Black bean soup. ...
  4. Lentil soup. ...
  5. Tomato soup.
Nov 4, 2023

What do Italians do with Parmesan rind? ›

Flavor your sauces and soups.

Plop the rinds into your next tomato sauce, ragù, or soup and let it simmer. Remove whatever is left of the rind just before serving. It will add a salty flavor and thicken everything up.

Can I use grated Parmesan instead of Parmesan rind in soup? ›

If you don't have any rinds on hand and are still interested in making this parmesan rind soup, simply use freshly grated parmesan instead. You can skip the step of boiling the rinds in the broth and add it straight to the soup with the broth.

Can I use grated Parmesan instead of shredded? ›

(You can substitute either shredded or grated Parmesan in equal proportions in your favorite recipes.) If you decide to buy a chunk of Parmesan cheese and grate your own, be sure to use the finest section on your grating tool. You can also use a blender or food processor.

How do you fix bland cabbage soup? ›

I always find it difficult to season a soup after it's been made, I usually try to add no sodium type flavors in the very beginning – you might try beginning with a bit of olive oil in the pan and adding just a few red pepper flakes, let cook a minute, then add onions until translucent, during this time, add pepper, ...

How do I fix bland tasting soup? ›

Perk up a Bland Soup With Simple Pantry Staples

Add a splash of vinegar (any kind!), or a squeeze of citrus. Chances are, you could use a little more salt. Go ahead—it's ok. Salt perks up flat flavors and helps balance out bitter-tasting ingredients.

Why does my cabbage have no taste? ›

You don't salt your cabbage appropriately

The second most popular people dislike cooking cabbage is how bland it may taste thanks to the excess moisture it releases during cooking. So, if you're making a slaw, experts advise that you salt the cabbage before combining it with other vegetables.

How do you keep soup from being bland? ›

Add acidity: A squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a dash of vinegar, or a splash of wine can brighten the flavors of a soup and make it taste more complex. Experiment with different cooking methods: Roasting or caramelizing vegetables before adding them to the soup can bring out thei.

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