meatballs and cabbage soup

Cabbage and Pork Meatball Soup

Last Updated on May 5, 2022

A simplified version of a classic Chinese recipe from the Jiangsu Province, this perfect-for-winter soup features ultra-tender pork meatballs alongside delicate Napa cabbage leaves in a light broth.

Only requiring one bowl, one skillet, and one pot, it’s quick to assemble and quick to clean up.

cabbage and pork meatball soup

Chinese Pork Meatball Soup

4.25 from 16 votes
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Protein: Pork
Cut: Ground Pork
Course: Main Course
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4


  • 1 pound ButcherBox ground pork
  • 6 scallions white and green parts, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon soy sauce divided
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 head Napa cabbage 1-1 1/2 pounds
  • 2 cups or more reduced-sodium chicken broth


  • Using your hands, mix together the pork, scallions, ginger, egg, garlic, rice wine, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and white pepper in a medium bowl. Once everything is combined, from a height of about 6 inches, drop the ball of meat into the bottom of the bowl 25-30 times.
  • Divide the meat into 4 equal parts and use your hands to form them into meatballs, moving the meatballs quickly between your two hands to help compress the meat further.
  • Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the meatballs until they’re golden brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Cut the bottom off the Napa cabbage and separate the leaves. Place 2-3 layers of leaves at the bottom of a medium sized heavy pot or Dutch oven. Place the meatballs in the center and then arrange the remaining leaves in between the meatballs and around the edges of the pot to form a sort of nest. Add chicken broth until the meatballs are just covered. Adding remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of salt to the broth.
  • Cover the pot and place over medium-high heat. As soon as the soup boils, reduce the heat to medium-low, so it’s simmering gently. Keep covered and cook for 1 hour.
  • Season broth further with salt, if desired. Serve with rice.
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Nevin Martell is a D.C.-area based food and travel writer, parenting essayist, recipe developer, and photographer whose work has appeared in The Washington PostNational Geographic, FortuneTravel + Leisure, and many other publications. His eight books include Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Gold-Standard Recipes from America's Favorite Rural Bakery and The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food & DrinkIt’s So Good: 100 Real Food Recipes for KidsFind him on Instagram @nevinmartell, on Twitter @nevinmartell, and online at