Cabbage Soup from the past

Main Street Saint Albans
Main Street Saint Albans
The old (refurbished) C & O Train Station. Saint Albans, WV
The old (refurbished) C & O Train Station. Saint Albans, WV

Saint Albans

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 the 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 barber shop, 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 friends 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.

Modern Times

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 it's 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 capacity's, both as 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 Hoopla

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 attempts to re-create were good in their own rite, 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 amount 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 ...The Recipe

(This recipe is for a six quart batch)


Cabbage - approximately 1/2 of a medium sized head (this depends a lot upon the density of the cabbage. You want to fill about 1/3 of the pot with chopped cabbage)

Celery - 5-6 stalks (enough to cover the top of the cabbage)

Crushed Tomatoes - 28 ounce can

Tomato Juice - 8 ounces

Salt - 2 Tbs

Pepper -1/2 tsp.

Crushed Red Pepper - A few sprinkles


Rinse and chop the cabbage into about 1 inch squares and place in the bottom of a six quart stock pot.

Clean and chop the celery into about 1/4 inch slices. Put into stock pot 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. (approx

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 is 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.


Mmm Mmm Good!
Mmm Mmm Good!

Comments 35 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 20 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

When a recipe instinctively sounds delicious, it's a winner!

Good Hub and bookmarked.

Howie Watts profile image

Howie Watts 20 months ago Author

Thanks WillStarr. To be so simple, it really is delicious :-)

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 20 months ago from Central Florida

I love cabbage! I wonder, can you substitute vegetable broth for the water when making this soup?

Howie Watts profile image

Howie Watts 20 months ago Author

Yes you can substitute vegetable broth bravewarrior. It will change the flavor somewhat, but you absolutely can substitute it :-)

Au fait profile image

Au fait 20 months ago from North Texas

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!

bamblynn 20 months ago

I love cooked cabbage and love home made soups!! I will have to try this!

Thanks for sharing your recipe and the history!!

Angel markham 20 months ago

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

Marcie Reed 20 months ago

I have been trying unsuccessfully to replicate the hush puppies from rivers edge for years.....have you posted that recipe anywhere?

DaphneDL profile image

DaphneDL 20 months ago from Saint Albans, West Virginia

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.

Pat L 20 months ago

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.

Patty 20 months ago

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.

Tracey Morris 20 months ago

My husband has been wanting this soup all winter, Thanks for sharing. We will have it by this evening! Yum!

DaphneDL profile image

DaphneDL 20 months ago from Saint Albans, West Virginia

I'll be watching for the hush puppy recipe in the future from your posts. Have a wonderful day, and thanks for sharing!!

viridiana 20 months ago

pretty awesome

Angela 20 months ago

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!

Pam Jividen Swett 20 months ago

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.

Jessi 20 months ago

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. :).

Jessi 20 months ago

Hope you can get the hushpuppies to go with the soup

NehaNarula profile image

NehaNarula 20 months ago from India

Oh Thank you ever so much this! Hopefully this will be a good dinner :D

Can't wait to try it

Jack 20 months ago

Thanks for sharing. Bring on the hush puppies.

Howie Watts profile image

Howie Watts 20 months ago Author

You are welcome NehaNarula and Jack. Glad to share. Enjoy :-)

Howie Watts profile image

Howie Watts 20 months ago Author

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 :-)

Tamirogers profile image

Tamirogers 20 months ago from Seattle, Washington

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!

Angie Ferguson profile image

Angie Ferguson 20 months ago from Seminole, Florida

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!

Howie Watts profile image

Howie Watts 20 months ago Author

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 :-)

Lindell Pennington 14 months ago

Loved Rivers Edge. Always great food, especially cabbage soup and hush puppies.

Leslie 14 months ago

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.

Donna 14 months ago

Would you share the hush puppie and honey butter recipes. Please!!!!

Nancy 14 months ago

That was my husbands favorite place to eat. Great food. Thanks for sharing the recipe

Howie Watts profile image

Howie Watts 14 months ago Author

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.

Brooke 13 months ago

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! ;)

Lynda 13 months ago

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.

Lea Shelton 6 months ago

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,

Sarah 6 months ago

I miss that restaurant but you can still get that soup and hush puppies with the honey butter at the cross lanes Rice bowl now. May have to stop by today

Eva 5 months ago

The Rice Bowl in Cross Lanes serves this soup on their lunch buffet. They also have the hush puppies which are complimentary but you have to ask for them! The Rice Bowl owner bought these two recipes from Carl Frame when he closed the Rivers Edge

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