Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage Soup

By Ann Fulton

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All the flavor of the classic Irish dish in soul-warming soup form. Easy, satisfying, and leftovers are a treat!


I was jinxed! The very same day a friend asked me if I had ever made something that flat-out flopped, it happened. Usually, my kitchen disasters hinge on my general clumsiness, like dropped salad bowls (full of salad) or spilled wine (red, of course).

But around this time last year, I unwittingly rendered a soup I had successfully made many times virtually inedible. While preparing the following soup for a St. Patrick’s Day meal, I decided to incorporate beer into the mixture. I’ve done this many times with chili, and it’s commonly used in Irish stew.

While I often cook with a basic lager or Corona, this time I used an IPA that I had on hand. While it tasted good when I took a sip before adding it to the slow cooker, over time a pronounced bitter flavor emerged. I stood over what was supposed to be dinner and cringed at the thought of wasting so much food. 

I mentioned it to my husband, who said I should just scoop out the solids and leave the broth behind. But even that was not enough to eradicate the overwhelming bitterness. There was no way this was going to pass muster. 

In a last ditch effort, I drove to the store and bought more broth. Then I dumped the entire contents of the slow cooker into a large strainer and rinsed it. From there, I returned the cabbage mixture to the slow cooker and added fresh broth. The end result was a soup that lacked the full benefit of a long simmer with the corned beef and vegetables–but it was far better than the harsh tasting alternative!

I am by no means a beer expert, but a little research and a call to a true expert revealed that IPAs typically have a high ratio of hops to malt (pale ales, on the other hand, tend to have more balanced malt-to-hop levels). It’s the hops that lend bitterness, and this tends to become more pronounced with extended cooking and when paired with certain foods.

Although the right beer would likely add an extra dimension of flavor in this St. Patrick’s Day-inspired twist on the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal, I have since stuck with the all-broth option that has long been a hit with my family. In fact, I always marvel at how much my husband and teenage boys rave about this simple, veggie-rich soup.

As a bonus, leftovers improve with age.

All the flavor of the classic Irish dish in soul-warming soup form. Easy, satisfying, and leftovers are a treat!When the ingredients are simmered together in a stew-like soup, this much-loved Irish comfort food reaches a new level….at least my family thinks so!
Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage Soup
If you go heavy on the quantities listed below and prefer a brothier soup, you may wish to add another cup or two of broth.

Yield: 6-8 servings
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth*
  • 2 pounds corned beef, trimmed of excess fat and cut into large chunks**
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, chopped (do not peel)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced (8-9 ounces)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (any leaves may be included)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 small head green cabbage (or half a large), quartered, stem removed, and chopped (1 1/2 pounds or 5-6 cups chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf and/or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • Optional for serving: chopped fresh parsley or a sprig of fresh thyme
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large (6-7 quart) slow cooker, and toss to combine. (I use low-sodium chicken broth with about 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and ground black pepper. You may wish to add half that amount and adjust seasonings later if your broth is not low in salt.) Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until the beef and vegetables are tender. (I think the corned beef stays more tender when cooked on low, but if time is short you can cook on high for about 3 hours.)
  2. Transfer the corned beef chunks to a plate, cool slightly, and then dice. (I prefer fairly small pieces.) Return the beef to the slow cooker, and stir to combine.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed, then remove the bay leaf and/or thyme sprigs.
  3. Serve warm, garnished with fresh herbs if desired.
  • *Though measuring in at just under 6 cups, a 32-ounce box and a 14.5 ounce can of chicken broth may be used. If you like a brothier soup, have an extra can on hand or start with two 32-ounce boxes. Homemade stock may be used; in this case, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • **I prefer to use a flat cut of corned beef as opposed to a point cut. Both are sold in the meat department (fresh, not frozen) and often come with a small spice packet. I omit the spice packet. If you wish to use it, wrap the contents in a piece of cheesecloth and remove after cooking. This way you won’t have whole spices floating in your soup.
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  1. Deb Knox

    Made this great soup over the weekend and invited my parents who said they didn’t like corned beef. This soup changed their mind. I substituted beef broth because it’s what I had in the pantry and it was excellent. Leftovers are even better. Served this with some crusty french rolls and everyone was happy. Thanks for your awesome recipes.

    1. Ann Post author

      I’m so happy to read your comment, Deb. Love that you took a risk knowing that they weren’t big corned beef fans – and it paid off!

  2. Joan Post author

    I’ve made this soup about four times and it has been a really a big hit. I did not go through the cooking of the
    beef after the first time, just bought a chunk of corned beef at the deli counter and cut it up. Worked fine.
    Just made the stovetop chicken, rice and peas and it was a hit -(a surprise since my family does not like peas)- so big a hit, I made another and took it to a post op friend.
    I always look forward to your recipes. Thanks so much.

    1. Ann Post author

      Thanks for your wonderful feedback, Joan. I’m thrilled you’ve had repeated success with several recipes!

  3. Nancy Brenton

    Made this Sunday. It was so convenient to have it cooking all day in the crock pot and it smelled great.
    Everyone loved it! Thanks Ann for another great recipe!

  4. Celeste Post author

    I made your recipe yesterday for St Patrick’s Day, my first time cooking with corned beef and it turned out excellent. Thank you for another great recommendation. I appreciate the detail and tips you include with your cooking directions. Keep those yummy recipes coming!

  5. Beverley Press

    Soup is a favorite of mine and I will take it any which way it comes so thank you for this alternative …Happy Paddy’s Day xoxo