How to Make Cabbage Soup like Big Boy's Recipe

Start to Finish: 1 hour 15 minutes

Servings: 8

Difficulty: Beginner

Big Boy restaurants are known for their comfort food menus. Among the list of customer favorites is the cabbage soup. This hearty, filling soup is fast to make, and can be easily customized to give it a personal twist. The cabbage soup uses only cabbage, celery, tomatoes and beans as the vegetable components, but adding ham, potatoes or other vegetables will make the soup even richer tasting. This recipe is adapted from one by The Baltimore Sun.


  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups cooked red kidney beans
  • 5 cups chopped, canned tomatoes, with juice
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf, dried
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced curly parsley


Add the onions and the olive oil to a large stockpot and cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. When the onions are translucent, add the minced garlic and lower the heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the salt, black pepper and parsley, to the stock pot. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat.

Cook for 2 minutes at a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 1 hour.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm and garnish with minced parsley.


The cabbage soup can be dressed up in a number of ways. Change the vegetables and spices used in the soup to increase flavor.

  • Add chopped carrot or red peppers for color and sweetness.
  • Frozen corn or peas will give the soup extra texture and make it more filling.
  • For something even heartier, add cooked pasta, such as macaroni or spiral pasta, to the soup just before serving.
  • A spicier soup can use more ground black pepper, or it can benefit from the addition of 1 or 2 teaspoons of red chili pepper flakes.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of Montreal steak spice to give the soup a richer, meatier flavor.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of dried thyme and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano for a more fragrant soup.
  • Add one or two dashes of Tabasco -- or another vinegar-based hot sauce -- to give the soup a spicy, sour kick. Vinegar-based hot sauces work well with the tomato.
  • The soup can also be dressed up with toppings.
  • Add a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt to make the soup richer and creamier.
  • Shredded cheese, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack or mozzarella, will melt quickly and will add richness to the soup.
  • Slices of avocado along with crushed nacho chips or croutons add crunch, salt and creaminess.

For a richer tasting, meatier soup, add shredded, cooked chicken at the end, or cook 6 to 8 slices of bacon, chopped, with the onions at the beginning of the recipe. Small homemade meatballs or bits of cooked Italian sausage can also be added to the soup at the end to make it more filling.


Use a mix of green or Savoy cabbage for a fancier version of a basic cabbage soup. Red cabbage will turn all the other ingredients purple, so consider this before adding it to the soup.

Double the recipe to make extra, and freeze it in an airtight container with no more than a 1/2-inch of headspace. The soup will keep for 2 to 3 months.

Replace the vegetable broth with chicken or beef broth for a heartier soup. If you do not have access to broth, use water instead and add 2 to 4 bouillon cubes. Start with 2 cubes, then add more to taste, as the cubes can be very salty.