Dan Clapson's recipe for bison cabbage roll soup from 'Prairie'

A soup interpretation of a classic prairie comfort food

Image for Dan Clapson's recipe for bison cabbage roll soup from 'Prairie'
Photos by Dong Kim.

As anyone in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba will happily tell you, cabbage rolls are one of the most beloved comfort foods in the Prairies.

With many regions having Ukrainian family roots, a made-with-love-by-somebody’s-baba batch of cabbage rolls is never more than a stone’s throw away.

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This re-imagining of cabbage rolls in soup form comes courtesy of Dan Clapson and the best-selling Canadian cookbook Prairie: Seasonal, Farm-Fresh Recipes Celebrating the Canadian Prairies. Released earlier this year, and co-written by Edmonton writer Twyla Campbell, the cookbook celebrates seasonal cooking and the many wonderful ingredients found across the Canadian Prairies.

"This soup is an ode to cabbage rolls, of course, but further embraces Prairie ingredients by using ground bison instead of beef, as well as sage and a little chili vodka from a popular Saskatoon distillery for a little kick," says Dan Clapson in the introduction to this easy-to-make recipe in his cookbook.

Bison cabbage roll soup

1 Tbsp canola oil

½ cup diced pancetta

1 yellow onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup Lucky Bastard Distillers Horilka (or comparable locally-made product like PARK Distillery Bird's Eye Chili Vodka)

2 lb ground bison

3 Tbsp tomato paste

1 398 mL can of diced tomatoes

4 cups veggie both

4 cups beef broth

1 cup water

3 cups thinly sliced fermented cabbage

¾ cup long grain white rice

1 Tsp finely chopped sage

Salt, to taste

Chopped parsley, for garnish


Heat canola oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook until fat starts to release, about 1 minute.

Next, add onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once small brown bits start to form on the bottom of the pot, add splashes of vodka to help deglaze.

Add ground bison and tomato paste to the pot and let meat cook through, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes.

Add canned tomatoes, broth, water, fermented cabbage, rice and sage. Stir well and let soup come to a simmer. Once bubbling, reduce to low heat, cover and let cook for 35 minutes.

After 40 minutes, remove the lid and season to taste with salt. Continue to cook for 10 minutes uncovered to allow liquid to reduce slightly and flavours to further intermingle.

Ladle out, top with parsley and serve with warm hand-torn garlic bread.

Watch Dan Clapson talk winter recipes from 'Prairie' on 'The Social'

Serves 6