doing what i know. kind of. April 1, 2010

This soup and I bumped into each other. It was one of the drizzly,
gray days we'd been having way-too-often here in Atlanta. While out
running errands, I stopped into a restaurant I hadn't been to in years
called Nam. I
needed a quick nosh before heading back to whichever store or market I
was off to next. This soup sounded so interesting, I just had to order
it – even though I had sworn to myself that the last thing
I needed was another soup recipe to obsess about. It was so unique yet
so familiar. Comforting while it made me a little antsy to rush to a
kitchen to re-create it. "Mom's Cabbage Dumpling Soup" pretty much blew
my mind.

It's the perfect blend of the stuffed cabbage my mom
used to make and the Asian soups I hold so dear. Nam's version has pork,
shrimp and glass noodles filling their cabbage leaves. I've simplified
mine a bit by using just pork dressed up with some shiitake mushrooms
and garlic. Use this recipe as a base to experiment- use ground shrimp,
more veggies, noodles. Whatever you like or have on hand. I even threw in some leftover enoki mushrooms I had into the broth.

Once you get
the hang of rolling the delicate cabbage bundles, this soup comes
together extremely quickly – I consulted some Asian
cooking blogs
to get an idea if I was on the right track. The key here is not to over-stuff the dumplings. Trust me, with the amount of flavor you get from this soup and the heartiness of the cabbage, you need not worry about them being skimpy.

& Cabbage Dumpling Soup
– serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a starter

  • 2 cups good quality chicken or vegetable broth
  • juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup ground pork
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and diced
  • 6 large savoy, napa, or white cabbage leaves
  • 10 green onions, long green tops saved and cut into long, thin
    strips and white bottoms roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 thai red chilies, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (optional)
  • salt and pepper, for broth, to taste if needed

– Start a large, wide bottomed pot of water on stove to boil.

Using the tough seam in the cabbage leaves as a guide, cut large
sections on either side of that seam off into smaller cabbage leaves –
this should make 12 small cabbage segments to use as your wrappers. When
water comes to a boil, blanch cabbage until tender but not falling
apart – 2 to 3 minutes at the most. Pull from water and allow to drain
and cool thoroughly so you can roll your dumplings without burning your

– While cabbage cools, mix pork, garlic, salt, pepper and
chopped mushrooms up in a large mixing bowl. I found that using your
hands to do the mixing works best and incorporates everything most
evenly. When leaves are cool enough to handle, spoon roughly a
tablespoon into each leaf. Fold sides over and roll cabbage into a small
bundle. Tie bundle together with a strip of green onion (the recipe
calls for more than you need because you'll have some breakage – don't
get flustered!).

– In a smaller pot, bring stock, water, lime
juice to a simmer. Taste your broth and salt & pepper as needed.
Gently place cabbage bundles in the stock and cook until pork is cooked
through – 4 to 5 minutes. 

– When done, gently spoon dumplings
into a shallow soup bowl (6 per person is a nice healthy portion for an
entree or 3 as a starter soup). Ladle broth over dumplings. Garnish with
chopped green onions – those white parts you set aside – and chopped
cilantro. If using, serve a tablespoon or so of fish sauce and chopped
thai red chilies on the side. Serve immediately!


The Teacher Cooks Apr 1, 2010 01:04 pm

Another beautiful photograph! The soup sounds delish. The soup is rather simple so the wonderful taste is from the dumplings. How frustrating was it to do the dumplings?

tami h. Apr 1, 2010 01:04 pm

The flavor comes both from the pork but the herbs and onions and cilantro garnish. Also the tartness of the lime in the broth. The cabbage leaves aren’t tough to wrap. Just need to be patient. Making it the first time, having extra on hand isn’t a bad idea but even if they’re not perfect bundles, they’re still yummy :) Apr 1, 2010 02:04 pm

You are so right about not over-stuffing! I have never made this but I have eaten many versions. The very best have a light and! GREG

Stella Apr 1, 2010 04:04 pm

Nice-your recreation looks beautiful and delicious. I’m from Atlanta, but I don’t know of Nam???

tigerfish Apr 1, 2010 06:04 pm

I like the idea of using cabbage as the dumpling wrapper! Thanks!

Flyingroo Apr 1, 2010 08:04 pm

In the part of the world I’m from we would call the dumplings “sarma” or plural “sarmale” – we make them as a dish in itself not as a soup. I find it intriguing to use them in soup, cannot wait to try it. Good job… and great photo!

Helen Apr 1, 2010 10:04 pm

This is exactly the kind of soup I could eat day in and day out. That’s scary in a way. But yet so good! Must try some soon!

Peasant Girl Apr 2, 2010 07:04 am

I think sometimes food like this is the ONLY thing that will hit the spot.
I’d love it if you would check out and follow my blog! It’s titled “Peasant Girl”. It’s my journey exploring the way American women value food and how we can be better served by a more traditional approach to eating and meals.

tami h. Apr 2, 2010 07:04 am

Nam is tucked away near the UPS store in the shopping center that houses a Trader Joe’s on Monroe Avenue in Midtown. There’s a movie theatre in the back part of the center. Nam is near the front of the complex near the UPS store and a Mellow Mushroom.

Orlando Divorce Attorney Apr 2, 2010 07:04 am

i want to eat soup

Dawn Apr 2, 2010 07:04 am

What a gorgeous photo. I am sitting here thinking of the possibilities for leftover bits in the fridge. My grandmother taught me to make sarma (stuffed cabbage)at an early age and this is so reminiscent of that dish. I am looking forward to the Asian leanings and trying this. Thanks for sharing.

carolyn Apr 2, 2010 12:04 pm

it’s the first “hot” day of the year here in ohio (a whopping 75*) and all i can think about is a steaming bowl of these cute little cabbage dumplings. another amazing soup, tami!

lisa Apr 3, 2010 01:04 pm

Lovely soup– so simple but beautiful. I love how the cabbage is used as a wrapper for the filling and tied so pretty with the green onion! I’ll have to use this idea. =) Apr 5, 2010 01:04 am

I love chicken soup with garlic souse in it, hot and spicy Apr 5, 2010 01:04 am

Soups must b hot and spicy, then it will taste like a soup

Donna Apr 5, 2010 11:04 am

I used to work at Nam and that was one of my favorite dish there.
I’m so happy you posted the recipe so I can try it at home :D

Hannah Apr 5, 2010 07:04 pm

Ohhh, that looks SO good.

derrimut primary school Apr 6, 2010 01:04 am

Such a amazing good looking dish. Looks simple but tastily. Thank you for sharing recipe

Lan Apr 6, 2010 08:04 am

my fave homemade soup, it’s easy to put together and not at all ingredient heavy the way some vietnamese soups seem to be. and i like how this dish can be enjoyed in the dead of winter but is still soothing enough for a summer evening.
your version is beautiful. thanks so much for linking back to me.

Monster Librarian Apr 6, 2010 07:04 pm

This is gorgeous! I love the photo and now am trying to think of who to serve this for! Love your posts!

Food Blog Apr 7, 2010 12:04 am

OMG!This Pork & Cabbage Dumpling Soup looks and sounds soo delicious.I just love this kind of soups.It’s so simple but beautiful.

tampa-bankruptcy-attorneys Apr 7, 2010 02:04 am

I read your story, nice

Alison Apr 9, 2010 03:04 pm

Oh yum! I’m living in Atlanta too and have been wondering where a good Vietnamese Restaurant is….I miss Pho soup so much! I will have to check this place out! Thanks!

Sally Apr 10, 2010 10:04 am

This was such a beautiful soup! I tried it though and my green onion “strings” wouldn’t tie, they were so slippery they kept untying themselves LOL. Anyway I managed to wrap up the cabbage leaves well enough to hold together. Fantastic soup! Thanks for sharing.

renaissance costume Apr 11, 2010 09:04 pm

Thanks much for posting the recipe. It makes my mouth water just by looking at the picture.. Yum!

gretchen Apr 12, 2010 04:04 am

wow. i am also a soup swooner and i love nothing more than cabbage or vietnamese food, so i guess i will be making this later this week and forever. thanks!

Brett Sutcliffe Apr 12, 2010 05:04 am

Thank you for your recipe I was articulately coming back to check this dish.
Hope when I try it tomorrow everything can work well.

Lindsay at Kitchen Operas Apr 13, 2010 11:04 am

Mmmm, sounds divine with those cabbage dumplings!
I’m going to have to try a veggie version — shitake mushrooms will be a great start to the filling!

Spice Rack Apr 17, 2010 08:04 pm

I guess you should dip the green leafy vegetables to the spicy sauce. Whoa, that tastes so good. I really love to cook especially when my spice rack is full of spices.

Marisa Apr 19, 2010 06:04 am

That looks so light & tasty! Great idea to use the cabbage rolls in a soup.

Kristin Conroy Apr 21, 2010 12:04 pm

I’m actually surprised…I think I could do this! It looks so beautifully complicated but reading the recipe, I see it’s not as difficult as I thought. Exquisite, thanks for sharing!

Jaime Apr 26, 2010 08:04 pm

Just beautiful.

Susan Haynes Jan 26, 2011 06:01 am

Appreciate another wonderful article. Exactly where else could anyone get that kind of info on this kind of an ideal way with words? I have a presentation next week, and Im around the look for these info.

Timothy Mar 20, 2012 01:03 pm

So glad to have found a familiar recipe! I make mine larger and add shallots to the mix! Trying this smaller dumpling size version tomm!!

Deanna May 22, 2013 05:05 pm

This sounds amazing! I’ll have to try this one. I just made a cabbage and dumpling soup- thinking I was original of course. But then I decided to check google to see if there were recipes, and there are tons. This recipe looks the best though. Next time I make cabbage soup, I’ll have to try this one!