Cabbage in tomato sauce

Cabbage in tomato sauce is one of those divisive canteen foods in Hungary, which either appeals to you or gives you the shivers. However, homemade version may have a surprise in store for those too who are not die-hard fans of this dish.

I used to refuse to eat cabbage in tomato sauce because I found it too heavy and watery. It is usually made with roux and cabbage is cooked in water before adding tomato juice, but a few years ago I stumbled on a recipe that omitted roux and water, and the result was a light and delicious food. Since then I cook cabbage in tomato sauce 2-3 times a year and serve it with roasted pork ribs.

Cabbage in tomato sauce
Cabbage in tomato sauce – photo:


  • 1 head of cabbage (approx. 800-900 g / 1 3/4 lbs – 2 lbs)
  • 1 big onion
  • 1-2 tbsp lard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp caraway seeds
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 liter (~4 – 4 1/4 cups) tomato juice

After pulling off and discarding any wilted or damaged outer leaves and slicing off the stem end cut the cabbage into 4 parts and remove the core. With a mandolin or a knife slice the cabbage into shreds. Salt and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.

Heat lard in a pot. Add finely chopped onions and sauté. Add cabbage (you don’t need to squeeze it unless it’s too salty) and sugar, and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Pour in tomato juice, adjust salt and pepper, and season with caraway seeds. Cover the pot and over low heat slowly simmer until tender (stir occasionally). If the cabbage is soft and you find the liquid too much, cook uncovered over high heat for a couple of minutes while stirring regularly.

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