Traditional Russian Cabbage Soup (Shchi)

Russian cabbage soup with potato chunks, topped with sour cream and dill

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 4 quarts
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
184 Calories
5g Fat
32g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 184
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 12mg 4%
Sodium 811mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 74mg 370%
Calcium 113mg 9%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 944mg 20%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Fresh cabbage soup, or shchi, is one of Russia's national dishes, and as with most dishes like this, the recipes vary from cook to cook and region to region. This cabbage soup recipe is meatless and contains no sauerkraut. It's a mild but hearty vegetarian soup with fresh cabbage, potatoes, and tomatoes.

For a richer flavor, use vegetable broth instead of water, and top the soup with fresh dill and sour cream. Serve with rye bread for a filling lunch or dinner, or offer the soup as the first course of a winter menu.

"The vegetarian Russian cabbage soup (shchi) had excellent flavor and was very easy to prepare. It was delicious with the sour cream and dill, and I used a flavorful vegetable broth instead of water." —Diana Rattray

Russian Cabbage Soup/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

  • 1 medium head cabbage, about 2 1/2 pounds, shredded (about 10 cups)

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely grated

  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 8 cups vegetable stock, or water

  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Sour cream, for garnish

  • Fresh dill, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Russian cabbage soup recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Add the butter to a large Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and sauté until translucent.

    Onions and butter in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Add the cabbage, carrot, and celery. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes.

    Cabbage, carrots, and celery added to onions and stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Add the bay leaf and vegetable stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 15 minutes.

    Vegetables covered with water and stock in the Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Add the potatoes and bring it back to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

    Potatoes added to the cabbage soup in the Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Add the tomatoes (or undrained canned tomatoes) and bring the soup back to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Tomatoes added to cabbage soup in the Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Remove and discard the bay leaf from the pot.

    Bay leaf and peppercorns being removed from soup with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Serve topped with fresh sour cream and fresh dill. Enjoy!


  • When the soup is made with sauerkraut, it is known as sour shchi or kislye shchi, and when it is made with sorrel, spinach, and other greens, it's known as green shchi or zelyoniye shchi.
  • A typical Russian meal starts with zakuski (appetizers), moves on to a hearty bowl of soup, proceeds to an equally hearty main course, and finishes with a not-too-sweet dessert. Soup is, or traditionally used to be, consumed on a daily basis in Russia, explaining the seemingly endless varieties.
  • Along with shchi, the most popular and traditional Russian soups include rassolnik (kidney-pickle soup), borscht (beet soup), botvinia (fish soup with green vegetables), solyanka (hangover soup), kharcho (Georgian lamb and rice soup), ukha (fish soup), sukhoi gribnoi (mushroom soup), okroshka (cold vegetable soup with meat), and schav (sorrel soup).

Recipe Variations

  • For a vegan option, replace the butter with vegetable oil or vegan butter. Vegan sour cream or vegan Greek yogurt may be used to replace the sour cream.
  • Sauté about 1/2 cup of chopped red bell pepper along with the onion.
  • Add an extra tomato or a few tablespoons of tomato paste for richer tomato flavor.

How to Store and Reheat Cabbage Soup

  • Refrigerate Russian cabbage soup in an airtight container within 2 hours, and consume it within 4 days.
  • To freeze leftover cabbage soup, let it cool completely and transfer to a freezer container or a resealable freezer bag. Label the container with the name and date and freeze the soup for up to 6 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat cabbage soup in a saucepan on the stovetop until it reaches at least 165 F, the minimum safe temperature for leftovers.
  • To microwave a bowl of soup, cover the bowl with a dampened paper towel and heat the soup on 100% power for about 3 minutes, stirring every 45 to 60 seconds to ensure it is hot throughout.