Italian Cabbage and Rice

4.48 from 17 votes

Italian Cabbage and Rice

This Italian Cabbage and Rice is truly a “peasant dish”; my Nonna in Italy made it often, probably because it stretched ingredients to help feed her very large family.

However, to tell you the truth, I’d rather have this warm, comforting and tasty meal, than some fancy haute cusine, any day of the week!

If you are just beginning your “unprocessed journey” and are finding it challenging, you’re doing something right! It isn’t easy in the beginning, but soon you’ll realize that there are so many better options and alternatives to the processed ingredients you have been using, you’ll kick yourself for having used them for so long (I know I have). I am constantly “weeding out” ingredients which I’ve been using mostly out of habit, and replacing them with homemade or unprocessed versions.

Recipes like my Nonna’s Italian Cabbage and Rice are a step in the right direction on the road to enjoying unprocessed meals everyday. It is simple, yet empowering. It is inexpensive, yet delicious, but most of all, it’s healthy!

Going “unprocessed” is truly a journey, and as with any journey, it takes time, so have patience and enjoy the ride!

Italian Cabbage and Rice Detail

4.48 from 17 votes

Italian Cabbage and Rice

By: Christina Conte
There's really no way to mess this up. Make it more soupy (add more water) for wintertime, or more dry for the hot summer weather. There's no right or wrong amount of vegetables, and as long as the rice is cooked, the length of cooking time can vary greatly too, and will not affect the final outcome in a significant way; it's a very forgiving meal!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 or 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3/4 cup tomato purée, or fresh tomatoes, pureed in a blender
  • 4 to 5 cups water
  • 1 medium Savoy cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, more or less to your preference; you can always add more later
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 to 1 cup arborio rice, or any other rice
  • grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, to serve, optional


  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot, over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and celery when hot. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes, until onion starts to become opaque.
  • Remove the core from the cabbage (I eat this part, it's very yummy and good for you too!) and chop into thin strips.
  • Meanwhile, add the tomato purée to the celery and onion and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Next, add the water (you can always add more later) and salt; then add the cabbage. Stir often, and bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, still continuing to stir occasionally.
  • Then add the rice. Use less for a more soupy dish, more for a drier result.
  • Stir well, and continue to simmer for 30-40 minutes, until rice is cooked.
  • Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano) cheese!


This is a perfect crock pot meal too. Just sauté the veggies, then transfer to the crock pot, adding the rest of the ingredients. Let cook all day. Easy-peasy!!


Calories: 156kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 720mg, Potassium: 316mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 400IU, Vitamin C: 7.8mg, Calcium: 102mg, Iron: 1.1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About the Author

Christina Conte is 100% Italian, but was born in Scotland and now lives in California…so she makes everything ranging from Bruschetta to Sticky Toffee Pudding to Spicy Soba Noodles with Chicken and Peanut Sauce. She believes natural, simple and unprocessed ingredients are the best, and loves cooking, baking, and (cr)eating. You can find her millions of food photos, old family recipes, and what’s she’s just cooked at Christina’s Cucina, and you can follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

A photo of Andrew Wilder leaning into the frame and smiling, hovering over mixing bowls in the kitchen.

Welcome to Eating Rules!

Hi! My name is Andrew Wilder, and I think healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. With just three simple eating rules, we'll kickstart your journey into the delicious and vibrant world of unprocessed food.

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January 20, 2020 1:23 am

4 stars
Great recipe. I made it for dinner tonight (with the inevitable substitutions and additions) and the whole family loved it and went back for seconds! Thanks for sharing it…

Reply to  Vance
January 20, 2020 7:29 am

Great! Happy to hear it!

April 16, 2016 9:18 pm

Hi Christina,
I was looking for a cabbage soup recipe like my mom used to make (she can’t remember) and I came across this site..low and behold your name popped up..Fabulous recipe and it is nice to see your friendly face all over the net. This recipe is similar to my moms, except that she didn’t use the rice and also no celery, just garlic and onions, mixed with olive oil, water, salt, pepper, and a small amount to tomato sauce (she would say just for color), plus oregano and then top it off with Pecorino Romano. I think that is what she would do.It was so good…I will have to try yours with the rice..I like that. Thanks for the recipe. Enjoy!
Dottie x 🙂

January 14, 2016 5:26 pm

Have you tried it with brown rice?

Reply to  Michael
January 14, 2016 5:35 pm

Hi Michael, I personally haven’t used brown rice, but my mother has and she really likes it. It doesn’t absorb as much liquid, so it’s more soupy, but definitely can be done. Enjoy!