Vegan sweet and sour cabbage soup is a hearty bowlful of cold-weather comfort. This classic gets a bit more heft with homemade croutons nestled into each serving. Don’t be intimidated by the length of the ingredient list. Everything just gets tossed into the pot at a leisurely pace.
This soup has made its way into several cuisines — Hungarian, Jewish, and more recently vegetarian, and now vegan. Is it one of those naturally vegan recipes? Definitely not, though plant-based versions are as standard as ones that aren’t.
A cozy meal for a winter day, it’s a generous soup pot full of inexpensive ingredients — onions, garlic, potato, carrots, and of course, cabbage, in a paprika-spiced broth.
The recommended lemon/sugar balance in the recipe yields a subtle sweet/sour flavor, so add more to keep pushing it to your please your palate, if you’d like a more assertive result.
Adapted from Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
Vegan Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup
Vegan sweet and sour cabbage soup is a hearty bowlful of cold-weather comfort. This classic gets a bit more heft with homemade croutons nestled into each serving.
- 3 to 4 cups cubed (about 1 inch) Italian or sourdough bread
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large or 2 medium yellow or red onions, quartered and thinly sliced
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 32-ounce container low-sodium vegetable broth plus 2 cups water; or 6 cups water with 2 low-sodium vegetable bouillon cubes
- 2 large or 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 large or 3 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 4 cups firmly packed coarsely shredded green cabbage
- 1 medium green or red bell pepper, diced
- 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
- 3 tablespoons natural granulated sugar, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, optional
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Cayenne pepper or dried hot red pepper flakes, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350º F. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden and crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and garlic and sauté over medium heat until golden, about 8 minutes.
- Add the water, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, bell pepper, tomatoes, wine, paprika, and cumin. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Stir in the lemon juice and sugar, as well as the optional Balsamic vinegar. Add more lemon juice and/or sugar until you get the sweet/sour balance that pleases your palate.
- Season with salt and pepper. If you’d like a spicier soup, add the cayenne or red pepper flakes to taste. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes longer. If time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or two to develop flavor. If need be, add a little more water if the soup is too crowded, adjust the seasonings and sweet-sour balance, then heat through before serving.
- Serve in one of two ways: Either divide the bread cubes among the serving bowls and ladle the stew over them; the bread will absorb much of the liquid and add a tasty, textural element to the soup. Or, simply pass around the bread cubes to use as croutons.
Feel free to substitute agave syrup for the natural granulated sugar.
If you enjoyed this Hungarian-inspired recipe, you might also enjoy …
Vegan Hungarian Cabbage Noodles
Here are more tasty vegan cabbage recipes
Here are more hearty vegan soups & stews.
This was so good. I did double the sweet and sour mixture, just cause it’s good.
Thank you,Trina! It’s always good to flavor things, especially soups, to your taste.