Cook bacon: Cut the bacon into small cubes. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan and fry the bacon until some of the fat has rendered about 2 minutes.
Cook onions: Add the finely chopped onion and continue cooking until the onions are golden.
Brown meat: Add the ground meat and the dried herbs and cook, breaking the lumps, until nicely browned.
Cook rice: In the meantime, cook the rice in salted water until half cooked. Read the package's instructions and cook the rice for a bit more than half the recommended time. According to the instructions, mine was supposed to be cooked for 16 minutes, so I only cooked it for about 10 minutes; it was still a bit grainy in the middle. Drain the rice and add it to the browned meat.
Puree the canned tomatoes. Add 1 tablespoon tomato puree and 2 tablespoons sour cream to the meat, the sweet and the hot paprika, and some salt and pepper to taste.
Cook cabbage: Chop the cabbage finely. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a very large pot and cook the cabbage until golden, about 10 minutes, stirring often, until golden all over. Add one cup chicken broth and the bay leaves, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Assemble the casserole: Mix the tomato puree with the remaining sour cream. Pour 1/3 of the mixture into a large casserole dish. Spread all over. Layer ½ of the cabbage and about 1/3 of the remaining tomato puree mixture. Spread the meat in an even layer over the cabbage, cover with the rest of the cabbage. Pour the rest of the tomato puree mixture evenly over the cabbage.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the rice is cooked and the casserole is nicely colored.
Serve with potatoes or bread and more sour cream (or yogurt for a lighter version).