Are you looking for a soup to warm you up this winter without adding a ton of calories to your diet? This Spicy Cabbage Soup with Beans is low-calorie, packed with lots of veggies, and gives a "cayenne kick" to your immune and digestive systems!
Updated: This post was originally published in January 2022 and has been updated with new photos and additional content.
Nothing is better than a bowl of soup for warming up when there's a chill in the air but they also make healthy, hearty meals for the rest of the year too!
This cabbage and bean soup hits all the high points for me! It has great flavor, is nice and spicy, and is easy to make.
If you enjoy cooking and eating soups, I think you'll love this lentil and chickpea soup and vegan chickpea orzo soup.
💚 Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Simple ingredients. All you need are a handful of fresh veggies and pantry staples to make it.
- Perfect for meal prep. Like other soups, spicy cabbage bean soup works great to make ahead and enjoy throughout the week.
- Healthy and nutritious. This soup has tons of nutritious plant-based ingredients and very few processed foods.
- Easy one-pot dinner. You can cook all the cabbage soup ingredients in one pot for super easy clean-up after your meal.
Making bean and cabbage soup requires very few ingredients. I know the list looks long but it's really a lot of spices and pantry staples you may already have in addition to a variety of fresh veggies.
- Aromatics and veggies: Onions, leek, carrots, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. These veggies are sauteed up first, giving the soup a nice base of flavor.
- Gochujang: A Korean fermented chili sauce made from soybeans, dried chiles, garlic, and other seasonings, that gives the soup some heat and a distinct savory flavor.
- Smoked paprika: Gives the soup a smoky flavor.
- Other dry spices: Cumin, coriander, oregano, and cayenne pepper create a more flavorful soup.
- Tomato paste: Gives the broth a quick infusion of flavors. You only need a small amount so freeze the extra to use in other recipes.
- Cabbage: You will want to use green cabbage in this recipe. Purple doesn't work well because it bleeds too much.
- Vegetable broth: You can use your favorite brand or make homemade.
- Black beans: Canned beans are an easy meal solution for making soups.
- Fresh cilantro: Added at the end of cooking so it retains its fragrant herb flavor.
- Lime juice: Brightens the flavor of the soup.
🌿 Substitutions and Variations
- Black beans: You can make this soup with your favorite beans or none at all!
- Don't like it spicy? Leave out the cayenne pepper and go easy on the gochujang sauce.
- Cilantro: I like the flavor it brings and find it works well with the spiciness of the soup but you can swap it for parsley.
- Veggies: Experiment with different types of veggies. You can really use just about anything. Spinach, zucchini, corn, mushrooms, and tomatoes are a few favorites for soups.
- Add a whole grain: This soup would go great with brown rice, quinoa, or any other whole grain. I suggest cooking it separately and adding it to the pot just before serving.
What can I substitute for gochujang sauce?
If you're new to cooking with gochujang sauce, I hope you give it a try because it's a terrific ingredient for flavoring foods. You can also use one of these swaps if you don't have any.
- Sriracha: Use about one teaspoon or more to taste.
- Ketchup: Mix one tablespoon with one teaspoon of chili powder.
- Red Miso Paste: Replace it with one tablespoon of red miso paste with half a teaspoon of hot sauce and one teaspoon of maple syrup.
- Harissa Paste: Mix together one tablespoon of harissa paste with one teaspoon of maple syrup.
- Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce: Eliminate the cayenne pepper and smoked paprika and add back in to taste.
✅ How to Make Spicy Cabbage Soup
Making this cabbage soup couldn't be any easier! Using ingredients many of you always have at home makes it a low-cost recipe.
- Cut the cabbage into pieces. You can cut it into chunks or smaller shreds - whatever you prefer!
- Cook the onions in a large pot with a bit of oil for about five minutes.
- Add the leeks, carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, and sea salt and cook until the veggies are soft.
- Combine the paprika, cayenne, cumin, coriander, and oregano in a small bowl.
- Add the chili sauce and mix it together. Stir this mixture and tomato paste into the cooked veggies.
- Add the cabbage, broth, water, and beans to the pot. Cover with a lid and bring the soup to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, reduce the heat and simmer partially covered until the vegetables are tender.
- Stir in the lime juice and some of the chopped cilantro.
🔪 Helpful Kitchen Tools and Gadgets
Cooking cabbage bean soup doesn't require much kitchen equipment in order to cook it up.
- Cutting board and knife: I love using this bamboo cutting board in my kitchen. It's a more sustainable option than plastic. Also, be sure you have a good quality knife and that it's sharp enough for chopping.
- Dutch oven: I love making soups in my Dutch oven though a large soup pot works too.
- Freezing soup: Soups are fantastic for freezing. I use glass jars to store soups in the freezer.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips and❓FAQs
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months.
- Feel free to play around with the veggies you might already have lying around in the fridge.
- Adjust the spices and spiciness level to your own tastes.
- Chop veggies into small, similar-sized pieces. These will cook more evenly and be easier to eat.
- Add more broth if you want it soupier or less for a more stew-like cabbage bean soup.
Yes, it is! Especially this one, thanks to the addition of a healthy plant-based protein and the addition of fermented chili paste, which adds some probiotics. Cabbage is a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and much more. It's also low-calorie and high-fiber. It may be anti-inflammatory and help improve your digestion.
Cabbage bean soup works great as a one-pot meal since it's packed with lots of veggies and protein. If you don't feel like it's satisfying enough, serve some crusty bread or even a sandwich along with it. I love this vegan tuna salad recipe or this vegan shiitake BLT.
This vegetarian cabbage soup is often considered a good food option for weight loss due to its low-calorie and high-fiber content. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that is low in calories but high in nutrients and antioxidants, while beans are a good source of protein and fiber, which can help promote feelings of fullness. Spices like chili peppers can also boost metabolism and aid in weight loss.
🌎 Is Cabbage Sustainable?
Cabbage is not only a delicious and versatile vegetable, but it is also a sustainable choice for your diet. Cabbage is a low-carbon food, meaning that it has a relatively low impact on the environment compared to other vegetables. It requires minimal water and fertilizer to grow and can thrive in a variety of climates.
Additionally, cabbage is a hardy crop that can withstand pests and diseases, reducing the need for pesticides and herbicides. Choosing to incorporate cabbage into your diet is not only a healthy choice but also an environmentally responsible one.
And when you buy organic, you will protect the health of our earth's soil for generations to come.
➕ More Soup Recipes
If you made this recipe, please leave a star 🌟 rating on the recipe card right below! You can also drop a review in the comment section. Your feedback is appreciated! And don’t forget to tag @themindfulfork so we can see your creations.
Spicy Cabbage Soup with Beans
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup onions, chopped
- 1 leek, chopped (white part only)
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 cup diced bell peppers (any color)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tbsp fermented chili sauce - garlic Mother In Law's GOCHUJANG
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ½ tsp oregano
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 8 cups green cabbage, sliced in chunks (2-pound head)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (2 tablespoon reserved for topping)
- 1 lime, juiced
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add leeks, carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, and sea salt cook for 10 minutes until slightly softened.
- While the above ingredients are cooking, blend seasonings (paprika, cayenne, cumin, coriander, oregano) in a small bowl with chili sauce.
- Stir chili sauce blend and tomato paste into the pot. Add cabbage, broth, water, and beans. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Stir in lime juice and cilantro (reserving some). Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro.
I love Mexican flavors, my husband not so much, but we both loved this soup. It is so flavorful although I could not find true gochujang where we live…I did find a Korean hot sauce that contained some as an ingredient. So much better than typical bland cabbage soup. I plan to keep a supply of this in the fridge through fall and winter for healthy, low calorie snacks and small meals. It is surprisingly filling, too!
I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Naomi. My family also loves the soup's blend of flavor and the extra kick of heat! Korean hot sauce is a great substitution for Gochujang! My guess is you're not the only one missing that ingredient therefore you've inspired me to develop and post a recipe blend of typical at-home ingredients you can blend to duplicate the sweet, spicy, salty flavor of Gochujang fermented chili sauce. Thanks for sharing with us!