The BEST Instant Pot cabbage and beef chuck soup you've tasted! Tender beef is combined with delicious fresh cabbage and cooked together with a terrific mix of vegetables (potatoes, onions, garlic, and carrots). You won't be able to put the spoon down!
Known in the Balkans as kupus kalja (cabbage stew) or slatki kupus (sweet cabbage), this soup is a great gateway to this flavorful and nutritious vegetable.
The main ingredient is fresh green cabbage (thus the moniker "sweet") that's combined with beef chuck. (Stew chuck, chuck steak, tenderloin, and even veal all do the trick fantastically!) Mixed with chunks of everyone's favorite veggies, this soup is true sweater weather food.
Unfortunately, this veggie has a bad rep!
If there is one dish people think of when they first hear 'Balkan food,' it's cabbage. And not the good kind, but cabbage overcooked to death that sort of turns into slime. (Whoever ever makes it this way is committing a crime as far as we're concerned!)
In turn, we're excited to bring you an Instant Pot cabbage soup recipe the way it really should be done: cabbage made just up to the point of softness and crunch, in a delicious broth with chunks of potatoes, carrots, and juicy beef chuck.
To achieve this perfection you'll pressure cook the beef first, and after releasing the pressure, add the cabbage and pressure cook a little longer. Doing pressure cooking in stages eliminates the potential of cabbage turning to mush, or beef being tough instead of tender.
Like always, we'll guide you step by step!
Here are the ingredients you'll need for this best ever Instant Pot cabbage and beef chuck soup.
- Fresh Green Cabbage: our cabbage soup requires one smaller head of fresh green cabbage. Larger quantities of this yummy veggie have a tendency to overpower the dish. If all you can get is a big head of cabbage, use only a half.
If you're wondering whether one small cabbage head is enough for everyone, you don't need to worry! Even a small head has layer upon layer upon layer of cabbage leaves so that everyone will get plenty of it in their bowls.
To prepare the cabbage, start by discarding the outer leaf layer. Then keep cutting the pieces in half until you are down to larger chunks. (So basically cut the cabbage in half, then into quarters, eights... until you get bigger chunks. You get the point.)
Avoid: red cabbage or sour (fermented) cabbage. Due to the tougher texture, red cabbage is better for salads than stews. Meanwhile, fermented cabbage gives the soup a whole different taste. (If you want an excellent recipe, try our sarma, aka stuffed sour cabbage.)
- Additional Veggies: you'll need the typical Balkan mirepoix (onion, garlic, and carrots) for meat sautéing. And then come the potatoes. Look for Russett or Yukon Gold as they do really well in stews. Dice them into smaller pieces as they'll pressure cook with cabbage for only about 12 minutes. They'll be perfect and fork tender this way.
- Beef Chuck: stew chuck, beef chuck, chuck steak, tenderloin, sirloin, or veal all work really well. If it's a tougher piece of meat, consider pressure cooking it for 30-ish minutes the first time.
- Seasonings: paprika, parsley (dry or fresh), salt, and pepper. If you prefer, you can add a bouillon (stock) cube, stock powder, or Vegeta instead of salt and pepper.
Quick instructions for Instant Pot recipe for beef and cabbage soup. (Hands down, this is the best way to make cabbage!) Detailed instructions are in the recipe card.
Step 1. Brown the meat in the Instant Pot. Select sauté option and cook onion, garlic, carrots, and meat for 10 minutes. Select cancel.
Step 2. Pressure cook the first time. Add spices and 2 cups of water. Stir and select pressure cook for 20 minutes. Once it's done, release the pressure using the quick release method.
Step 3. Pressure cook the second time. Add cabbage, potatoes, and 2 cups of water to the meat in the Instant Pot. Stir and select pressure cook for 12 minutes. Once it's done, release the pressure using the quick release method. Add parsley and serve.
- Serving: the cabbage soup tastes the best (aka divine!) right after it's done.
- Storing: try to eat this soup on the same day you make it. If you really must, store it in the fridge for up to 2 days in a sealed container. However, note that it does get soggier the longer it stays inside.
- Reheating: look above! Reheat on the stove, and add liquid if necessary. However, each time you reheat it, it will get soggier and mushier. Cooked cabbage does not keep well.
- Freezing: nope!
No. Once cooked, cabbage is best consumed within a day or two.
Unfortunately, not for this soup! Because cabbage structure changes once it's frozen and then thawed, the best cabbage for our Instant Pot cabbage soup is the fresh green cabbage.
We found the magic number to be exactly 12 minutes (after the first meat round in the Instant Pot is done), and no longer than 12-15 minutes. Anything shorter and the cabbage will be halfway done. Anything extensively longer and the cabbage has potential to turn into mush.
Yes. We found anything longer than 15 minutes in the Instant Pot causes the cabbage to turn into mush (that's about 20-25 minutes on the stovetop).
Absolutely! We recommend you use the saute option for a few minutes first so the beef browns and keeps all the juices. Then use the pressure cook option for about 20-30 minutes if it's a quick meal (or up to 2 hours if it's a whole roast!) for the most tender beef imaginable.
If you made our Instant Pot cabbage and beef chuck soup (kupus kalja) and liked it, please consider giving it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5-star) rating. This helps others find the recipe more easily!
Also, feel free to leave a comment (I read each one!), and don't forget to tag a photo #balkanlunchbox, or us @balkanlunchbox, on IG.
Prijatno and bon appetit!
Instant Pot Cabbage and Beef Chuck Soup (Kupus Kalja, Slatki Kupus)
- 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil sub with canola, sunflower or coconut
- 1 onion medium, peeled, diced, minced or grated
- 3 garlic cloves peeled, minced
- 2 carrots large, peeled, diced or minced
- 1 pound beef chuck diced small, or veal, or beef medallions
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- (Optional) 1 tablespoon Vegeta, stock powder, or a beef stock cube with or instead of salt and pepper
- 1 smaller cabbage head (or ½ of a large cabbage head) cut in bigger chunks
- 3-4 potatoes large, peeled, diced very small
- Parsley to taste dry or fresh
- Brown the meat. Select sauté on your Instant Pot and heat up the oil. Add onion, garlic, and carrot. Sauté until soft, occasionally stirring, (about 5 minutes). Add meat, and sauté for 5-10 more minutes, or until the meat browns. Continue stirring occasionally. (Add just a little bit of water if necessary.) Cancel the sauté option.
- Pressure cook the first time. Add seasonings and 2 cups of water. Stir everything really well and secure the lid on the Instant Pot. Pressure cook on high for 20 minutes. (It will take about 5-10 minutes for Instant Pot to pressurize before the cooking begins.) After the time is up, release the pressure using the quick release method (about 2-5 minutes). The float valve will drop and the lid will unlock and open when all of the pressure is out.
- Pressure cook the second time. Open the Instant Pot, and add potatoes, cabbage, and 2 cups of water to the meat. Stir everything really well and secure the lid on the Instant Pot. Pressure cook on high for 12 minutes. (It will take about 5-10 minutes for Instant Pot to pressurize before the cooking begins.) After the time is up, release the pressure using the quick release method (this time it'll take longer, about 10-15 minutes). The float valve will drop and the lid will unlock and open when all of the pressure is out. Add parsley and serve.
- Handling Notes: Cooked cabbage does not keep well! Therefore, it's best to serve it on the same day you make it, as this is when it tastes divine! If you must, store in the fridge for up to 2 days, and reheat using your preferred method (stovetop is best though). Note that each time you put it in the fridge or reheat it, cabbage soup will get soggier.
- Why are we pressure cooking twice?
- Is this complicated or dangerous?
- Will it take too long?
I did try the pressure cooker - an Instant Pot. I did 20 minutes on high pressure; way too long. Almost turned the cabbage to jelly. I would do 13 minutes next time on high. I also used Italian Turkey Sausage. It was still delicious. Thanks.
Thanks for letting me know. I made a note in the recipe. Every pressure cooker is different so this may help other readers who have one that's similar to yours.
Is it possible to do without pressure cooker?
It is, but the pressure cooker makes the process much easier. It's been a really long time since I made it without it so I can't tell you how much time it would take. First you'd have to simmer the meat for quite some time (in this case get veal, not beef), then add potatoes and finally cabbage. Final timing would depend on how old your cabbage head was.