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Lion’s Head and Napa Cabbage Soup


Happy Saturday, Soupers!

Ever have a craving for something and you don’t even know why? That’s how we’re feeling today, and our craving was for Napa cabbage! I wanted another way in which to make it that didn’t involve a veggie wrap!

So, when I ran across this recipe for Lion’s Head Meatball and Cabbage soup, I just knew this was the obvious choice. Guess what? It doesn’t disappoint!

What is Lion’s Head Soup?

Lion’s Head soup originates in China (Qing Dynasty) and mainly consists of stewed meatballs and vegetables. The main veggie is cabbage — specifically Napa Cabbage. Both other types of cabbage, bok choy or spinach can also work well.  You can even use a bit of bamboo shoots and tofu.

The name derives from the size of the meatballs, which are huge! They are meant to resemble the head of a Chinese guardian lion.  Most of the time, the ground pork is the meat of choice because it gives the dish more texture and flavor.  However, you can use beef as well.

For my dish, I used beef and I didn’t make the meatball very large, but the meatballs were packed with flavor nonetheless! The soup is both filling and light all at the same time and the meatballs … man, are they good!

Give this dish a try for lunch or dinner. It honestly can be made in roughly 30 minutes maximum and it’s a dish that the kids will absolutely love. Happy Eating!


pound Napa cabbage

1 medium green onion minced

1 small leek (minced)

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon ginger (fresh and minced or powder)

1 large egg

1 pound ground beef

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 dash ground black pepper

3 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons panne

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Author picture
Carolyn Moncel

Carolyn Davenport-Moncel is a digital media and communication consultant, author, mother, contrarian, book, music and reformed veggie lover and Founder and Souper-in-Chief at Simply Souperlicious, a platform devoted to helping fans "fall back in love with veggies" -- one local, seasonal, soup recipe at a time. Follow her veggie and soup journey on social media @simplysouperlicious.

by Carolyn Moncel
  • Prep 15min
  • Cook20min
  • Meal Time Lunch
  • Serves 4


  1. Bring vegetable broth to a boil.
  2. Mince and onions, garlic, leeks and ginger and place to the side.
  3. Add the ground beef to a bowl. Mix in the minced onions, garlic, leeks, ginger, salt, pepper, and sugar.
  4. Beat the egg in a small cup. Add in the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Give a quick stir and pour into the beef and work the ingredients together. Use the flour and panne to give form to the ground beef.
  5. Turn the ground beef into balls and flatten slightly to that they cook easier.
  6. In a pan on high heat, add the vegetable oil and brown the ground beef on both sides. Set aside on a plate or place in the oven on low for 5 minutes.
  7. Chop up the napa and add to the boiling broth.
  8. Take the beef and place into the boiling broth and cook on low for about 10 minutes.
  9. Ready to serve.

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