Nourishing Cabbage, Fennel & Lentil Soup (1 Pot!)

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Two bowls of cabbage, fennel, and lentil soup next to fennel seeds and toasted bread

We know what you’re thinking: Cabbage soup isn’t sexy. But is it? Cabbage and fennel just met and they’re now inseparable. This soup is just the beginning of their love affair! Made with Italian seasonings, fresh fennel, and lentils, this soup is savory, nourishing, subtly spicy, and light yet satisfying!

Made in just 1 pot, it’s the perfect easy meal for a cozy weeknight in! Grab your ladle — soup’s on!

Carrot, kale, cabbage, onion, potato, fennel, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, lentils, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil

This cozy, 1-pot soup starts with sautéing onion, fennel, and carrot until soft and sweet.

Sautéing onion, fennel, and carrot in a Dutch oven

Next we add cabbage and kale, giving this soup a boost of greens for nourishment (hello, folate, fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, K, and B6). Talk about packed with the good stuff!

Chopped kale and cabbage over sautéed veggies

Then it’s on to the key flavor players: Garlic, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes combine for an Italian-inspired seasoning mix.

Potatoes and lentils join the party for heartiness and fiber, and it all simmers away in vegetable broth and tomatoes until tender.

Using a wooden spoon to stir a pot of lentil, fennel, and cabbage soup

We hope you LOVE this soup! It’s:

Subtly spicy
Naturally sweet
& SO delicious!

It makes a cozy meal topped with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan and served with our Best Vegan Garlic Bread or Fluffy Gluten-Free Focaccia. Or for more protein, pair with our Vegan Pepperoni, Easy Vegan Sausage (Soy- & Gluten-Free!), or Pesto “Parmesan” Turkey Meatballs.

More Nourishing Cabbage Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Toasted bread in a bowl of cabbage, fennel, lentil, and potato soup

Nourishing Cabbage, Fennel & Lentil Soup (1 Pot!)

Comforting, 1-pot soup with cabbage, fennel, lentils, kale, and Italian-inspired seasonings. An easy, nourishing, gluten-free and plant-based meal!
Author Minimalist Baker
Overhead shot of a bowl of cabbage, fennel, and lentil soup
4.82 from 22 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 (~1 ½ cup servings)
Course Entrée, Side, Soup
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Italian-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 4-5 Days


  • 2 Tbsp olive or avocado oil (plus more for serving // if oil-free, sub twice the amount of water)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped (1 large onion yields ~ 3 cups or 225 g)
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped (or sub 2 stalks of celery // 1 medium fennel bulb yields ~ 2 cups chopped or 210 g)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped (2 large carrots yield ~3/4 cup or 90 g)
  • 1/2 tsp each sea salt and black pepper
  • 6 cups green cabbage, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 cups chopped kale (curly or Lacinato), sliced into 1/4-inch slices (or use more cabbage — we like the added color and texture of the kale)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds, crushed lightly in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder (or leave whole)
  • 1 heaping tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (or store-bought)
  • 1 medium-large yellow potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks (1 potato yields ~3 cups or 300g)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup dry green lentils

FOR SERVING optional


  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, fennel (or celery), and carrot. Sauté gently for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the salt and pepper — don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to speed this up or the veggies won’t get as sweet.
  • Add in the cabbage and kale (if using), and sauté for another 5 minutes until wilted. Then stir in the garlic, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 more minute until the fennel seeds are fragrant.
  • Stir in the vegetable broth, diced potatoes, crushed tomatoes, and lentils. Bring to a simmer, cover (with the lid slightly ajar), and simmer on medium-low for 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
  • Taste and adjust as needed, adding more salt for overall flavor or red pepper flakes for heat.
  • We like to top bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of vegan parmesan and serve with garlic bread or focaccia bread.
  • Leftover soup will keep well in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.



*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 6 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 251 Carbohydrates: 43.6 g Protein: 9.5 g Fat: 5.8 g Saturated Fat: 0.8 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.8 g Monounsaturated Fat: 3.5 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 1089 mg Potassium: 851 mg Fiber: 11.4 g Sugar: 12.9 g Vitamin A: 785 IU Vitamin C: 52 mg Calcium: 161 mg Iron: 4.2 mg

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My Rating:

  1. Carol says

    I made this in my instant pot, it took 4 minutes cooking time after sautéing. It is delicious. I did double the salt/pepper because I added extra potatoes and carrots. Thank you for your recipe. Plus, just thankful for your gluten free and plant based recipes.

  2. Leia Spencer says

    I had to substitute much of this recipe because I just didn’t want to go to the store. So I used Brussels sprouts instead of cabbage, pretty similar I thought, and lots of kale instead of fennel. I did have fennel seeds though. I was pretty pleased with the flavour. Not what I would have normally put together, fennel and cabbage, but everyone enjoyed it. I served it with a charcuterie board and that was a fun accompaniment.

  3. Terri Roberts says

    Had fennel I needed to use and came upon this recipe. Made this exactly as written and it’s perfect! Even my mom who is not a fan of lentils at all loved it. She said it’s now her new favourite soup!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Laurita, the tomatoes do nicely balance the flavors, but perhaps a little acidity from lemon juice or apple cider vinegar could have a similar effect?

  4. Britt says

    This is so delicious! I made exactly as written with the kale, except I used ground fennel instead of crushed seeds which tasted delicious to me! The flavors work so well together and it’s filling and hearty with the cabbage and lentils. I’m excited it makes such a big pot so I can enjoy the rest of the week – and I have a feeling the leftovers will taste even better!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Britt! Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modification! xo

  5. Rebekah Furey says

    Made this today and both my spouse and I loved it. A little on the spicy side for her, so next time in will reduce the red pepper flakes to 1/2 teaspoon and double the garlic. We also added a can of chickpeas and and extra cup of veggie broth. Excited to have the left overs for lunch this week. Another hit!

  6. RJ says

    This was really good. I didn’t have cabbage and used some frozen spinach instead of kale. Will make again and again. The fennel was such a nice addition.

  7. Fay Breitbart says

    This wasn’t my favorite recipe. It’s a lot of chopping prep and in the end it just tasted like hot vegetable water.

  8. Rachel says

    This was good! I made it as written, and I would definitely use fennel unless you have a strong aversion to it–that’s what makes it more than a totally standard vegetable soup. It’s definitely comforting and nourishing as opposed to a dinner party/knockout dish, but very nice for a cold day. I added some soy sauce for a deeper umami flavor.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it overall, Rachel! Thanks so much for sharing! xo

  9. Cheryl says

    This soup is DELICIOUS. I did not have kale so only used cabbage. So so good. The flavor is intense and so cravable.

  10. Julia Mcleod says

    This is a delicious recipe! I didn’t add the kale because last minute realized it was off so didn’t put in. Did the recipe with half veggie/half chicken broth but otherwise exactly the same and it was really delicious and as mentioned by another poster it was even better the next day. The fennel and fennel seeds are the keys to this recipe!

  11. Katy says

    This is simmering on my stove, giving out the most scrumptious aroma. I had planned to make it exactly as the recipe states and bought all the ingredients to do so. But, I had a little extra time on my hands today, so instead, I caramelized the onion, and roasted the fennel and cabbage until they were very sweet. As I was adding everything and tasting as I went, the caramelized veggie taste was so good, I decided to omit the tomato and went with freshly squeezed lemon juice, instead, for brightness. Outstanding!! So happy to fill my freezer with future meals, too!! Next time, I’ll definitely try it with the crushed tomato :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications, Katy!

  12. victoria says

    make this, you wont regret it. it’s a great recipe for christians who daniel fast and just all around a delicious harty recipe. i put maybe 1tsp of fennel seed, personally. made it twice and it hasnt missed!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you’re enjoying it, Victoria. Thanks so much for the lovely review! xo

  13. Britt says

    This was awesome and super nourishing. I substituted 1.5 tsp of cumin because I didn’t have fennel seeds. It was delicious! Thank you!

  14. Jan T says

    Hi All-
    Wow- made this as written. I Love fennel (my husband likes it, but does not love). I am not a huge fan of cabbage (but my husband is). I thought this was a perfect compromise for a cold, blustery snow storming prediction. And it was. Spices were the perfect kick to marry these veg ingredients- delectable!🤤 We have added this one to our Comfort Foods folder. Thank you for providing yet another VG/EX recipe.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Jan. We are so glad you both enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a star rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! xo

  15. Lauren says

    An incredibly tasty soup! I made it with the fennel (vs. the celery). Added roughly 2/3 of the spices, and the garlic, to the sauteed onion mixture before adding the cabbage and kale. Then threw in the rest of the spices after wilting the cabbage and kale. Used only 1/2 tsp of the red pepper flakes which I still thought gave it a pretty decent kick.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications, Lauren!

  16. Jenny says

    I love your blog and all your recipes so much!!!!! I just made this, I didn’t have smoked paprika so I just used plain paprika, I have liquid smoke should i add a few drops? or just leave as is- it tastes ok I just wonder if I’m missing out on the wow flavour combo since i didn’t have the smoked paprika…
    Thank you for your awesome work!!!!!!!!!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jenny! So glad you’re enjoying it! We think liquid smoke might overpower the flavors of the soup. It should be fine with plain paprika. The smoked paprika just takes it to the next level!

  17. Leslie says

    This soup is delicious! I made it exactly as written (didn’t even crush the fennel seeds) and it is great. I love how Minimalist Baker soups always make such a big batch.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Leslie. Thanks so much for the lovely review! xo

  18. Laura says

    This was delicious and makes a lot. I made it in my instant pot using the sauté function and then pressure cooking for 8 minutes. Worked perfectly.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! We love to hear that this worked in the Instant Pot. Thanks for the review, Laura!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Kristina. Thanks so much for the lovely review! xo

  19. jacquie says

    This looks good and i’m looking forward to trying it out. though i’m not fond of potatoes. is there something i could substitute or could i leave them out?

  20. Joy Fedele says

    This looks wonderful and I’d like to made it tonight. How would you adapt it to a slow cooker?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Joy, we think you could add everything to a slow cooker and cook it on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. Or for best flavor, we’d still recommend sautéing the veggies from step 1, then transferring to the slow cooker.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We haven’t tested that, but it should work! Sautéing the veggies does add flavor, so just keep that in mind if you skip the sautéing. Let us know how it goes!

  21. Em says

    Another delicious MB soup, and ‘souper’ timely as I am feeling a cold emerge and don’t live close to a pho restaurant, so this is a good sub!! My toddler loved this too!! Will certainly be in the rotation. : )

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jody, we haven’t tested with red lentils, but it might work! They will likely have a more mushy texture though and cook faster. Let us know if you try it!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Monique, we haven’t tried it in the Instant Pot, but it might work! We’d suggest using the sauté function through step 2. Then seal the lid and cook on high pressure for ~8 minutes. Let us know if you try it!

  22. mhtpt says

    I would like to make this but due to my acid reflux I’d like to avoid the tomatoes. Do you have any suggestions on good replacements for crushed tomatoes? Or should I just leave it out completely?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We haven’t tried this recipe without crushed tomatoes and we’re not sure if the flavors would be as good, but let us know if you try it!