Unstuffed Cabbage Soup has been my family’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner for as long as I can remember. I could not tell you whether or not it is actually traditional Irish fare, although my Irish-American mother has always insisted that it is “more Irish” than corned beef and cabbage. I do know that cabbage is heavily featured in Irish food, and this is delicious. It goes well with potatoes; my personal favorite pairing is potato cakes, but mashed or even roasted potatoes would do the trick quite nicely.
I adapted my mother’s recipe so I could make it in the slow cooker because, if you hadn’t noticed, I prefer to use my slow cooker when given the choice. The recipe just about fills my 6-quart slow cooker. If that’s too much for you, don’t worry, the leftovers freeze beautifully.
The honey and raisins put this soup is on the sweet side – it is definitely the sweetest of any soup I make. If you prefer something less sweet, you could reduce the amount of honey. I suppose you could also reduce how many raisins you include, but then you would miss out on the joy that is plump little re-hydrated raisins.
For the soup base:
- 1 large onion
- 2 lb head of cabbage, preferably Savoy
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ⅓ cup raisins (or currants)
For the meatballs:
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- ½ cup uncooked rice
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Dice the onion. Core and dice the cabbage. Place both the onion and the cabbage into the crock of a 6 quart slow cooker.
- Add the other ingredients for the soup base into the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, add all of the ingredients for the meatballs. Gently mix with your hands.
- Roll the meat mixture into small, bite-sized meatballs, adding them to the slow cooker as you go.
- Fold the meatballs into the soup, taking care not to break them apart.
- Put on the lid and cook for 8 hours on low. Serve with potato cakes, mashed potatoes, or whichever starchy carb you prefer!