making cabbage stew with meat

Cabbage Stew with Meat – Traditional Kapuska

Most people are unaware, but I think cabbage is as popular as burgers. In Russia, cabbage is considered a national food. And it is not just the Russians, sauerkraut, another popular cabbage dish, is a classic favorite all across the central Europe, and mainly in Germany. On a side note, sauerkraut was not invented in Europe. It was the Chinese who made some of the earliest versions about 2000 years ago. Even the slaves who built the Great Wall of China were fed on sauerkraut. Keep in mind that China still accounts for nearly half of the world cabbage production today.

So, you get the idea; this leafy green vegetable called cabbage is a well-known ingredient for many different dishes around the globe. Take Korea, for example. Cabbage is also another popular ingredient for the Korean staple food Kimchi (spicy, fermented cabbage—one of my favorites).

The situation is no different in Turkey, either. We have a dish called kapuska. It is basically a spicy cabbage stew. Historians state that similar meals were also famous even during the Byzantium era. I grew up on this spicy dish. Note that you can make it with or without meat. Today, I am giving you our family recipe. If you do not like cabbage or know of someone who does not like it, this recipe can change all that!

What you will need:

Aside from cabbage, you would need a good casserole pot like the one below. Note that you can use this item on stove or inside oven.

Kapuska—Cabbage Stew with Meat

Cabbage stew used to be a considered a poor boy dish as it was the only meal available for most people in Europe during World War II. However, it is incredibly nutritious. Note that cabbage provides vitamin C, K, and lots of dietary fiber. Plus, it contains sulforaphane, which may help to protect against cancer. In addition, it may provide protection against the negative effects of radiation. Add to that its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and inflammatory properties.

There is a simple trick with this recipe. We do not sauté or fry the onions. In fact, we add almost all ingredients before turning on the heat. So, all you need to do is to mix the ingredients in the saucepan, add the sliced cabbage, and then turn on the heat.

You can use any kind of ground meat according to your preference. Feel free to omit it if you want make it vegan. I tend to add lots of cayenne pepper when preparing this recipe.

Cabbage Stew with Meat – Traditional Kapuska

Recipe by OzgurCourse: MainCuisine: TurkishDifficulty: Easy


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  • 1 large white onion, diced into small cubes

  • 1 large tomato, diced into small cubes (I used cherry tomatoes)

  • 1 green chili pepper, diced

  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper paste

  • 1 tablespoon softened butter, unsalted

  • Half of 1 cabbage

  • 3.5 Oz. (100 g) ground beef

  • About 1 liter of water

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper


  • Slice the cabbage, wash and drain. Set aside.
  • Dice the onion, tomato, and chili pepper, and add to a large casserole pan.
  • Add 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste and 1/2 tablespoon pepper paste.
  • Add 3.5 Oz. (100 g) ground beef.
  • Add the butter.
  • Add salt and ground black pepper.
  • Add the sliced cabbage leaves on top. You will not be able to fill them all. It is Okay, we will add the rest later on.
  • Turn up the heat to medium.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add half of the water.
  • Add the rest of the cabbage slices as the ones in the pot get soft.
  • Add the rest of the water.
  • Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.


  • This is a healthy recipe. You can make it healthier by adding carrots (sliced into rounds), 4-5 celery stalks (chopped), 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger.
  • Skip the meat, and replace butter with coconut oil to make this recipe vegan.
  • You can change the amount of water in this recipe. Reduce it if you like your cabbage with less sauce.

Where did cabbage stew originate?

Cabbage stew has been around for thousands of years. It is popular all around the globe in a wide region. Many different versions exist from Asia to Russia, Europe to America. Byzantium and the Ancient Chinese were among the first communities to use cabbage stew as a staple food.

What is the healthiest way to eat cabbage?

Mix cabbage with fresh herbs and do not overcook in order to retain its nutrition. It is best if you add shredded cabbage to your salads. Soups, salads, and stews are the best way to consume cabbage in a healthy way.

What is the taste of cabbage?

Raw cabbage can taste bitter to some people and has a unique flavor. However, cooked cabbage can take on the flavor of spices and herbs added to the pan easily. Thanks to its adaptable nature, you can add cabbage to most meals without any issues, and spice it up as you like.

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