There used to be a Jewish diner at the corner of Spadina and College streets in Toronto which served the most delicious Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup.  It was a tiny place, the windows all fogged over, but it was the perfect spot for lunch. I loved this soup so much that I made it shortly after and I have been making it the same way ever since.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

5 from 1 vote
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Course: Soup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Degree of Difficulty : Easy
Servings: 6 people


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil for searing beef
  • 1 lb beef short ribs or beef shank
  • kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbpn vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 small head cabbage cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup passata or tomato sauce
  • 2 cartons beef stock
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar


  • Gather ingredients before starting the recipe.
  • In a large soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat.
  • Add beef and sear both sides until the beef loses it's color and starts to brown, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove seared beef to a plate and reserve.
  • Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the stock pot and add sliced onions and generously season with kosher salt and black pepper. Stir to combine and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Thinly slice cabbage and add to sautéed onions.
  • Return seared beef to stock pot, add tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes. Season well with kosher salt and black pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Add 2 cartons of beef stock, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low.
  • Cover stock pot with the lid propped open with a wooden spoon and simmer the soup for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  • Cool soup to room temperature then place in the refrigerator over night.
  • The next day, degrease the soup and gently reheat. Remove the beef and cut into bite sized pieces, then return to the soup.
  • Add the ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar and taste for seasoning. The soup should taste sweet and sour and should be quite thick.

Author Notes

I changed quantities and added ingredients to this very traditional sweet and sour cabbage soup. I added 1/4 cup of ketchup at the end as ketchup has the same flavor profile as the sugar and vinegar called for in the original recipe and it adds a vibrant red color to the soup.
I also substituted tomato sauce, and I like Italian passata in a bottle for this, and I increased the quantity to make the soup thicker and to add even more color to the soup. The soup was delicious and just as good as my memory of the first time I tried it so many years ago.

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