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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Cabbage Soup

There is something about very cold weather that gives one an enormous appetite. Most of us find ourselves beginning to crave rich steaming stews and hot apple pies and all kinds of delicious warming dishes; and because we are all a great deal luckier than we realize, we usually get what we want — or near enough.

But Charlie Bucket never got what he wanted because the family couldn’t afford it, and as the cold weather went on and on, he became ravenously and desperately hungry.

Both bars of chocolate, the birthday one and the one Grandpa Joe had bought, had long since been nibbled away, and all he got now were those thin, cabbagy meals three times a day.

-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl


Before he enters Wonka's chocolate factory, poor Charlie lives on three bowls of cabbage soup a day. We've made it a bit more substantial so you don't go hungry!

I’m a ‘steamed broccolini with a dab of butter and a dash of salt’ kind of gal.

A ‘grilled mushrooms with a hint of garlic’ kind of person.

Heck, I’ll even do the infamous brussel sprouts, if they’re sliced and seared. Granted, I didn’t have them shoveled down my throat as a kid, so our relationship started out of curiosity, not force.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Cabbage Soup

But cabbage. Cabbage and I, we stay on opposite sides of the room. From time to time, we’ll meet when I have a taste for sauerkraut and sausage. But for the most of it, avoidance is key.

In all fairness, it’s not cabbage’s poor fault. It’s all self inflicted and from none other than cabbage soup.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Cabbage Soup

High school years are pretty well blocked in my memory. There’s, fortunately, not much that I can recall. But they were painful years, where kids skinnier than myself would mercilessly tease about my baby fat, although it was just that. Baby fat, that eventually melted off during uni. The fact I had matured faster didn’t help.

‘You’ve got tumors on your chest’ was one of their many war cries.

So, like many self-conscious teens, I turned to diets in a desperate attempt to loose what triggered the teasing.

Counting calories. Liver cleansing diet. And the almighty, cabbage soup diet.

I only lasted two days tops on that diet. That gnawing emptiness, even after your sixth bowl, finally wears you down, especially as an always-on-the-go kid.

At least you can eat as much soup as you like on the diet. I could only imagine being Charlie. His thin watery cabbage soup would have consisted of very little; water, cabbage, maybe some onion, salt and pepper. And only three bowls of it a day.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Cabbage Soup

Fortunately you can add a whole lot more ingredients to make it more substantial.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Cabbage Soup

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Cabbage Soup recipe Food in Literature

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This recipe has a bit more substance to it, with the likes of bacon added to it. Poor Charlie would have had the absolute minimum ingredients in comparison…

  • Author: Bryton Taylor @ Food in Literature
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour


Units Scale
  • 1 chopped cabbage
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 litres of water
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 diced carrots
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped (more if you insist)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • few sprigs of thyme
  • 1 chopped celery
  • few bits of fresh parsley.


  1. In a large saucepan, mix together all the ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour. Skim off fat as you go.


Recipe based from Book of Household Management by Mrs Beeton (published 1861) and can be found on the gutenberg.org website.






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  1. We watched Charlie and Chocolate factory like a ton of times and my daughter has been begging me to make the soup well I looked at a bunch of recipes and the all had tomatoes but if youve seen the movie there soup looks tomatoless well we are going to try this recipe tonight thanks for the recipe?

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