Veselka's Cabbage Soup

A deceptively simple soup with some secret weapons: sauerkraut, allspice, and marjoram.


This recipe is adapted from the wonderful New York City restaurant Veselka, possibly best known for its Eastern European pierogies and borscht, but whose other offerings should not be overlooked. Vanns Marjoram is the secret star of this simple soup, adding a touch of undefinable herbal flavor throughout. Marjoram is one of those herbs you might never have used or even heard of before -- imagine oregano with just a hint of a minty aftertaste. The combination of the marjoram, the warmth of the allspice, and the slightly floral taste of the bay leaves make for a simple soup with great depth of flavor, and the sauerkraut adds a nice tang. Enjoy on a cold day with a piece of buttered toast!

Spices used in this recipe

Allspice, Whole
Bay Leaves
Salt, Kosher


  • 1 lb. pork butt, trimmed of excess fat, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 Vanns Allspice Berries
  • 3 Vanns Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tbs. Vanns Marjoram, divided
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, with 4 Tbs. of its juice reserved
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups green cabbage (about ½ small cabbage), thinly shredded
  • Vanns Kosher Salt, to taste


  1. Place the cubes of pork, chicken stock, water, ½ Tbs. dried marjoram, allspice berries, and bay leaves in a medium stockpot. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and bring to a boil over medium high heat. When boiling, reduce to low heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for about 2 hours, until pork is tender. 
  2. Remove the pork from the soup with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Strain the liquid remaining in the pot through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Wipe out the pot, return the strained liquid to the pot, and put over medium-high heat. While liquid returns to a simmer, stir in the remaining ½ Tbs. dried marjoram.
  3. When liquid is simmering, stir in the sauerkraut, keeping the juices aside for later use. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the potato, bring the pot back to a gentle simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the carrot, celery, onion, and cabbage, bring the liquid back to a gentle simmer, and cook for 20 more minutes. Stir the pork back into the pot and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  4. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper - go easy on the salt, as the sauerkraut will likely be salty. Add sauerkraut juice and serve.

Serves 6-8. Adapted from Veselka.

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