This recipe comes from a bygone family-owned restaurant in my hometown of Saint Albans, West Virginia.
What is cabbage soup from the past? That may be the question on the minds of some. Others know exactly what it is. Here is the answer for those who do not.
Tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains, in the Kanawha Valley, in the state of West Virginia, is the small rural community of Saint Albans. It is the town that my family and I moved to in 1967 when I was a mere five years old, and the town that I grew up in and lived in until I moved away, to a nearby community in 2002. Saint Albans is a little town of about 11,000 people, located on the banks of the Kanawha River and situated at the mouth of the Coal River.
In many ways, in the 1960s and 1970s, it was the picture of typical small-town America. There was a main street with a five and dime store, a department store, a local small-town bank, and a barbershop, along with a few other stores along its path. There were hometown parades and summer town fairs that we all, young and old alike, looked forward to every year. There was Friday night football under the lights, in an age where school pride and loyalty still existed. There was that feeling of safety of being a small town where everyone looked after each other, and where it was safe to walk down the street at night, or ride your bicycle home in the dark after staying just a little too long at your friend's house. There was little to no crime to be reported, and drugs were only seen on television shows of the day such as Dragnet or Hawaii Five-O. It was a simple time in a simple place. One I only wish I could now recreate for my own children. A lot has changed over the years.
Historically, the land was once surveyed and owned by George Washington. The town itself, however, was laid out in 1816 and was originally known as Phillippi after one of its early settlers. There were a few name changes along the way before finally, in 1872, being renamed by H.C. Parsons of the C & O Railroad, which ran through the center of the town, after his birthplace in Saint Albans Vermont.
Moving forward 114 years from the 1872 renaming of the small town described above, I can now answer the original question. What is cabbage soup from the past?
In the small town of St. Albans was a family-owned restaurant that opened its doors in 1986 in the heart of town. I have been asked not to mention the name of the restaurant, so out of respect, I have taken the name out. Sadly they had to close their doors nearly 10 years ago due to the changing economic and demographic landscape.
I had the pleasure of working for this restaurant, and the family that owned it, in different capacities, both as a chef and in management, from its inception in 1986 until life's circumstances led me to leave to pursue other interests and opportunity's in 1996. I still have many fond memories of the people, and lots of life lessons from the events from those days in that little place in that small little town.
I also still have many recipes that were used in the successful building of the business. Some are ones that I created myself along the way. Some, like this soup, were created by others, but ones that, after ten years of producing or supervising the production of, have stuck in my mind like glue. Some I have shared with others along the way. Some I have kept to myself. That finally brings me to the main topic of this article: cabbage soup.
The restaurant I am speaking about was well known for many things. Mouth watering, aged, hand cut steaks, shredded lettuce salad with their signature house dressing, delectable desserts, and warm sweet hush puppy's served with whipped honey butter. But perhaps the thing that they are most talked about for, even years after their closing, is the cabbage soup that was served up to every guest. Yes. Every guest, upon being seated, was greeted with a basket of the sweet hush puppy's and honey butter and a steaming 8 ounce cup of their homemade cabbage soup.
It is the latter that has been the source of hundreds of requests over the years and is the subject of the recipe that I will share in this article. As stated, I have had, literally, hundreds of requests over the years for the recipe for this soup. While I have been more than willing to share it with folks, and it is really quite simple, there was one small problem. The recipe I have had for all these years has been for an 80 quart batch. That doesn't do the average consumer much good when trying to prepare this for home. At this restaurant we would go through anywhere from two to four of these 80 quart pots of soup EVERY DAY. So I have taken part in or seen thousands of gallons of this particular cabbage soup prepared over ten years. Again though, that did not help the individual who wanted to make a pot of this memorable soup for home. Therefore, I would usually just approach the requests with a simple, "I can tell you how to make it but you will have to make 80 quarts at a time." I would then always get requests to break down the recipe for them. I would always promise that I would some day, but have just never got around to it... until now.
For some reason, of late, I have had a recent renewed barrage of requests for the recipe. I have even seen a few posts on social media and even a newspaper article in our local paper, trying to re-create this long sought after recipe. I have seen people come up with some strange ingredients that they were sure was in the soup. While each of the many attempts to re-create was good in its own right, they just were not correct, at least when described as the soup from this particular restaurant. So I decided that it was finally time to make the effort and break down the recipe for a small home-sized batch and share it with others.
The funny thing about all of this "hoopla" over the recipe, is that when people see the small number of ingredients actually used, and how very simple it is to make, they will wonder what all the fuss was about and why they worked so hard to figure out something so simple.
So without further delay, I give you... cabbage soup from the past!
Cabbage Soup Recipe
Yield: 6 quarts
- 1/2 medium-sized cabbage (or enough to fill about 1/3 of the pot with chopped cabbage)
- 5-6 stalks celery (enough to cover the top of the cabbage)
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 8 ounces tomato juice
- 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- A few sprinkles crushed red pepper
- Rinse and chop the cabbage into about 1-inch squares and place in the bottom of a six-quart stockpot.
- Clean and chop the celery into about 1/4 inch slices. Put into stockpot on top of the cabbage.
- Fill the stock pot up with water to about 3/4 full.
- Place pot on burner and bring to a boil. Reduce heat just enough to keep from boiling over and cook until the cabbage and celery are tender but still firm (approximately 30 minutes).
- Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients (crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper).
Note: You may adjust the salt pepper and crushed red pepper to suit your taste. Some people like it a little spicier some like it a little saltier. Experiment a little at a time.
Stir and serve. It's really that simple.
This recipe can also be used as a base for a more hearty vegetable soup. Just add your choice of vegetables. You can even beef it up and make a vegetable beef by adding cooked stew beef to the mix.
As with many things, taste is subjective. Feel free to modify in any way that best suits your taste. However, for those trying to recreate the recipe for this long gone restaurant, this recipe is for you.
Trisha on March 09, 2020:
One of my favorite soup appetizers. Light and easy to fix for large crowds. Thanks for posting... I've made shredded salads every since we first ate them at RE. Husband and children love the French dressing and bue cheese crumble combo.
Richard Carey on January 28, 2020:
Thank you so much for this article and this recipe. I raised my family in Scott Depot, and we loved eating at Rivers Edge. So many people from the entire area fondly remember this place and its delicious food. I tried to make this soup one time from a recipe in the newspaper, but it just was not the same. I will be trying this one very soon. Others have requested recipes for the salad dressing and the hush puppies, and I understand your reasons for not sharing them. Have you ever thought about collaborating with the family to creat a Rivers Edge Cookbook? I think that you would find a large market for simple, delicious country comfort food. I would be first in line to purchase a copy. Thanks again for your article.
Elaine Dawson on January 04, 2020:
I am a widow of 2 years now and I'm always looking for simple and delicious soups to help me get through the cold snowy weather here in West Virginia. Thank You so much for sharing this recipe....
Mickie Burrows on January 01, 2020:
I have always used V-8 veg juice...1/2 regular and 1/2 spicy, cabbage, very few onion flakes, water....it was very close to R E soup in taste and appearance. This recipe you have posted here will be the one I use the next time. Thanks for sharing with us. I appreciate it very much.
Wanda on January 01, 2020:
I love the old Rivers Edge Cabbage Soup! Well, I loved the house salad & hush puppies -what can I say, the entire menu was wonderful! Someone looking to make a fortune in this area,
“BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME,” if you were ever a good customer of The Rivers Edge or heard of it you’ll at least try it -it has to be authentic old recipes to be successful!
Beverly Leslie on January 01, 2020:
We visited the restaurant about once a week. Loved the food especially the steak. Hush puppies were wonderful!
Sue C on December 29, 2019:
We loved eating at the Rivers Edge...we would drive over from Logan after church on Sunday or Saturday evenings out with friends...
We finally started making this soup because we missed it ...however, we add sliced onions and a can or carton ( depends on your size of pot) of beef broth and a shake or two of hot sauce...we have many request at church functions and from friends to fix a big pot...however you fix it, enjoy every bite....
Russell Adkins on December 29, 2019:
Loved this restaurant, had many a bowl of this soup and the hush puppies
Susie Perrone on December 28, 2019:
I miss the Rivers Edge. Loved Surf and Turf, the honey butter and soup... yes, loved everything I ate there.
Sally Stewart on December 28, 2019:
To Mr Frames children please start making the hush puppies at your restaurant. I would pay 10.00 for o rider and I know everyone on this page would. My husband and I weren't flushed with money but we always managed to go 2-3 times most months. We loved the spaghetti until she up and quit one morning. We also had it at the Sterling with that great salad, toasted garlic bread by the basket and lots of hush puppies and honey butter and of course iced tea. My friends and I were just talking about Rivers Edge the other day.
Dawn Wheeler on December 28, 2019:
This brings back such great memories. Loved all of the menu items. Hush puppies..o m g...delish
Barb on December 28, 2019:
Such great memories made at Rivers Edge Cafe. Loved the hush puppies!
Priscilla on December 28, 2019:
I created my own version of Rivers Edge soup many years ago. I add a finely chopped onion and use a can of tomato juice, lots of water, and and cook for a couple of hours, adding water as it cooks down.
Beverly Driggs on December 28, 2019:
Loved, loved, loved this soup and hushpuppies they had. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. Can't wait to make it
Tracie Wheeler on December 28, 2019:
We loved eating there! The only place I could eat Lobster in the Surf and Turf. We drove from Huntington to eat. A lot of people wish it would open back up.
Laura Mallett on December 28, 2019:
Thank you for the article and for sharing. Well written and enjoyed reminiscing about a wonderful restaurant.
Jody Nesselrotte on February 27, 2019:
We ate there all the time loved the soup and hush puppies. My cousin carry Webb worked there for years i hated to see it go
Zora Mallory on February 11, 2019:
Thanks Howie! Love this soup and loved the restaurant (that shall not be named, LOL) that created it! They had the BEST baked steak and gravy EVER. Loved the salads too...there was just something about the shredded lettuce! BTW, I think you may know my husband Randy's brother, Tom Mallory? Also, my friend Jack Cook and his friend Lance (I can't remember Lance's last name) used to work in the kitchen there...I bet you knew them too!
Kay Reed on January 12, 2019:
I remember this soup well and I loved it even though I did not like cooked cabbage. I am going to fix it for my Father who loves cabbage soup.
Donna Blake on January 11, 2019:
Wonderful article! I too graduated from SAHS. My husband and I had our first date at RE restaurant which included cabbage soup. My only comment about the town is: I the 60s , football games were on Saturday afternoon because Crawford Field had no lights for a night game.
Thanks for the recipe. Another thing I remember was how huge the salads were.
Cindy anderson on January 03, 2019:
Do you have recipes of hush puppies and blu cheese French dressing?
Terry St on January 03, 2019:
Do you have the blue cheese french salad dressing recipe? It was from the old Sterling Resturant in Charleston, WV from way back in ybe 70's. We loved visiting home and going to Rivers Edge. Hope you can share dressing recipe...my search has been long. Blessings..
Howie Watts (author) on March 01, 2018:
Thanks Blane. Kay the pot does not need to be covered. It certainly wont hurt anything if you choose to however. Just be careful of boil overs if you cover the pot. Happy cooking :)
Kay on February 22, 2018:
Love, Love, Love the soup. Just one question, Should the pot be covered with a lid while cooking? Or not?
Blane1943@outlook.com on February 19, 2018:
Really enjoy your great recepies
Howie Watts (author) on February 18, 2018:
Thank you. Yes he (Carl) did. He had a remarkable way of growing a restaurant business. He and the entire Frame family are wonderful people who I had the pleasure of working for/with for over 20 years. This article is as much a tribute to them and the little piece of so many memories that they helped create for so many, as it is for the town we grew up in and still love. Thank you for the compliment on the article.
Tammy Harppold on February 18, 2018:
I too grew up in a Saint Albans before leaving in 2000 Carl had a good thing going with Rivers Edge! I too miss the simple way of life the low crime and the good small town feeling! What a great article and a great tribute to our Home Town of our past!
Mommaof5 on February 11, 2018:
Loved the whole article! It is a cold and rainy Winter day here in SA and was was craving this soup! Googled Rivers Edge soup and here it is! Thank you so much for sharing this!! Loved your history of our town too.
Alissa Russell on January 02, 2018:
I really miss this restaurant. The soup, hush puppies, and prime rib were the best. Thanks!
Ann on April 26, 2017:
I made this and it is Excellent!
Karen thomas on February 21, 2017:
Would love to have hush puppy recipe.
Tiffany on February 20, 2017:
Do you happen to have the hush puppy and honey butter recipe?
D on February 18, 2017:
This post is so enjoyable and interesting, thank you!
Courtney on January 13, 2017:
AHHHHH! Thank you soooo much!! I remember this place from when I was about 5 years old because of the amazing cabbage soup, hush puppies, and butter spread! Phenomenal!
Sara on January 05, 2017:
Loved the soup, recipe was spot on from what I remember. Sure would like the hush puppies to go with it. The Chinese restaurant in cross lanes is pretty good too that serve the soup and hush puppies.
charlotte c on January 04, 2017:
Omg love this.. Rivers Edge was one of my fave restaurants.. do you have recipe for the hush puppies n honey butter, and also recipe for the 1000 island dressing. it was fantastic.
Lea Shelton on April 27, 2016:
Ate there on several outings with nurse friends from CAMC W&C Hosp. Could you tell the recipe for the house dressing? It was delish. By the way, I have eaten and gotten some of your bbq sauce,
Lynda on September 03, 2015:
Howie, thanks for the recipe and for the story most of all. I lived in St. Albans in the early 50's, we moved to Boone County to be near my dad's family. In 1968 I moved to NJ where I still reside. West Virginia will always be my home and I will make the Cabbage Soup and think of home.
Brooke on September 03, 2015:
Loved River's Edge! My boyfriend at the time (now my hubby) and myself would go there for dinner! The soup and hush puppies were my favorite! And the salad and dressings were very yummy too! Sure do miss that place! Thanks for sharing the cabbage soup recipe!! Will be a great dish to make this fall and bring back some memories of our old date nights at River's Edge! ;)
Howie Watts (author) on September 01, 2015:
Lindell, Leslie, Donna and Nancy. Thanks for stopping by and I am glad it brought back great memories for you. Sorry Donna...No I will not be sharing any other recipes out of respect at the request of the family.
Sadly....this evening I went to the memorial service of the man who started it all. It was a very moving and honoring service. He touched many lives through his years, mine in particular, and I will cherish the memories that I made with him and the bonds that I made with the entire family, for the rest of my days. They are truly wonderful people. Although the patriarch has gone on the be with the Lord, he will not be forgotten by anyone who was blessed to know him. His legacy lives on through many, and especially through the lives of his children, whom I am blessed to call friends.
Nancy on September 01, 2015:
That was my husbands favorite place to eat. Great food. Thanks for sharing the recipe
Donna on September 01, 2015:
Would you share the hush puppie and honey butter recipes. Please!!!!
Leslie on August 31, 2015:
This was a favorite place among friends. I never knew anyone who didn't like the food or the atmosphere. I often make this soup and can't wait for it to finish cooking. There is a restaraunt in Cross Lanes, Wv who make the hush puppies and honey butter and they make them to go too.
Lindell Pennington on August 31, 2015:
Loved Rivers Edge. Always great food, especially cabbage soup and hush puppies.
Howie Watts (author) on February 17, 2015:
Thanks TamiRogers for stopping by to read and for joining my group of followers and for voting the article up. I will head on over to return the favor :-)
Thanks Trudy. Not sure why all the drama. I think it has all been settled though. I tried to make it clear to all, that there was never any intent to disrespect anyone but quite the opposite. There was nothing cynical about sharing the recipe. I think (at least I hope) that they all understand that by now :-) Glad it could evoke a few great memories for you.
Angie, thanks for stopping in to read. Hope you enjoy when you get a chance to make it :-) I do have (many) brothers and sisters, but not brothers that start with R or M. I do think I know the brothers of whom you speak though. Different family from the same town :-)
Angie Ferguson from Seminole, Florida on February 16, 2015:
Howie...Hubby is from St Albans... do you have 2 brothers that start with R and the other is M ?
Thank you for recipe, can't wait to make it!
Tami Rogers from Seattle, Washington on February 16, 2015:
Looks yummy! Voting up and following you now..I am a foodie!
I grew up eating cabbage soup from a more ethnic, Jewish background. The local deli's in the midwest had some great ones..but my favorite bowl was at Katz's Deli in New York!
Howie Watts (author) on February 16, 2015:
Thanks CM. Glad you got a chance to make it and enjoy it.
Thanks Daphne. I am so glad that you got the intent that was meant from the hub. The intent was indeed to compliment and honor the memory of this great place that was the center of much of my life in my twenty's and early thirty's. There was never any malicious or cynical intent or ideas behind it. I was simply coupling the recipe that so many have asked me for over the years, with my love of writing. That was all. In doing so, I thought I was lifting up the restaurant in question and the people that owned it, not the other way around. Anyway... I guess some saw it differently. Thank you for "getting it" and for you kind comments :-)
Howie Watts (author) on February 16, 2015:
You are welcome NehaNarula and Jack. Glad to share. Enjoy :-)
Jack on February 16, 2015:
Thanks for sharing. Bring on the hush puppies.
Neha Narula from India on February 16, 2015:
Oh Thank you ever so much this! Hopefully this will be a good dinner :D
Can't wait to try it
Jessi on February 15, 2015:
Hope you can get the hushpuppies to go with the soup
Jessi on February 15, 2015:
I grew up in WV and moved a few years back. I was so disappointed to go back for a visit and find the restaurant closed. Hopefully this will help. :).
Pam Jividen Swett on February 15, 2015:
Can't wait to get the recipe for the hush puppies and honey butter as well, then I'll be all set. Thanks, so much.
Angela on February 15, 2015:
My husband and I celebrated many anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions at The Rivers Edge! It was definitely our favorite restaurant! We loved the soup, salad, and especially the hush puppies with honey butter. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I also hope you'll share the recipe for the hush puppies, and maybe the seasonings for the Grecian bread!
viridiana on February 15, 2015:
Daphne D. Lewis from Saint Albans, West Virginia on February 15, 2015:
I'll be watching for the hush puppy recipe in the future from your posts. Have a wonderful day, and thanks for sharing!!
Tracey Morris on February 15, 2015:
My husband has been wanting this soup all winter, Thanks for sharing. We will have it by this evening! Yum!
Patty on February 15, 2015:
I hope you do the hush puppies and honey butter as well and I don't miss the post. I loved that place and it's food.
Pat L on February 15, 2015:
my husband and I moved to St Albans where we raised our three daughters in the mid 80s. One of our favorite things was to eat at Rivers Edge and of course the cabbage soup, warm hush puppies with that sweet butter was always high on our list of favorites. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! It brings back some great memories of food, family, and just good friends. I hope you will share the hush puppy recipe sometime soon. Again, thanks.
Daphne D. Lewis from Saint Albans, West Virginia on February 14, 2015:
Thanks for sharing the Cabbage Soup recipe! This was always one of our favorite places to eat when visiting home, and I was so sad when they closed their doors for the last time. Cabbage Soup may be on my menu for next week now that I don't have to make 80 quarts at one time. The number of hush puppies I consumed there was too many to count. I have many great memories from meals there with my family.
Marcie Reed on February 14, 2015:
I have been trying unsuccessfully to replicate the hush puppies from rivers edge for years.....have you posted that recipe anywhere?
Angel markham on February 14, 2015:
my husbands family grew up in St Albans and I got to eat at Rivers Edge the soup and the hush puppies with the sweet butter were the best
bamblynn on February 14, 2015:
I love cooked cabbage and love home made soups!! I will have to try this!
Thanks for sharing your recipe and the history!!
C E Clark from North Texas on February 14, 2015:
The photos make this look delicious and healthful. I love cabbage and veggies generally. I would have to lose the red pepper I'm afraid as spicy doesn't suit me, but I might add onions in it's place. I love to throw a pot of soup together every now and then, no recipe, just what's on hand and appeals. This really sounds great!
Howie Watts (author) on February 09, 2015:
Yes you can substitute vegetable broth bravewarrior. It will change the flavor somewhat, but you absolutely can substitute it :-)
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 09, 2015:
I love cabbage! I wonder, can you substitute vegetable broth for the water when making this soup?
Howie Watts (author) on February 09, 2015:
Thanks WillStarr. To be so simple, it really is delicious :-)
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 09, 2015:
When a recipe instinctively sounds delicious, it's a winner!
Good Hub and bookmarked.