Friday, December 9, 2011

Ham and Cabbage Soup

A simple soup made from a chicken broth base, with leftover baked ham, bacon, a ham hock and cabbage.
A simple soup made from a chicken broth base, with leftover baked ham, bacon, a ham hock and cabbage.

Ham and Cabbage Soup

Soon as southern fall and winter weather fluctuates from flip-flops back to jackets, I instantly want a good warming soup and I love experimenting with different combinations. This one came about from having some leftover holiday ham and cabbage that I needed to use up, and knowing I had a frozen ham hock I could use to flavor the soup base. I don't bake a whole ham very often, though I really don't know why, but ham hocks make such a great flavoring stand-in for a ham bone for soups and beans, that they really should be a freezer staple. They certainly are for me!

There is nothing at all unusual or unique to me about this soup - in fact, with some slight variation in the ingredients, it's pretty common, but it's a nice tasty soup for those of us who enjoy cabbage. Hey - y'all know it must be okay when I can get The Cajun to eat cabbage, and he gobbled down three large bowls of it.

I started with a little bacon for the smokey flavor, added a mirepoix of veggies, a quart of chicken stock and an equal amount of water, threw in a slashed ham hock, and let that simmer for an hour. You can go a little shorter if you have to, but unless you're in a hurry, let it simmer for a full hour to extract all the flavor out of that ham hock. The ham hock flavored this up nicely, so an all water base would probably be fine here too.

After the ham hock has simmered, add in some chopped potatoes, thickly shredded cabbage and seasonings, cover and let it low simmer for another 20 minutes or until the cabbage and potatoes are tender. I decided to chop the potatoes a little more chunky than a dice for this soup, but if you dice yours, be sure to factor that in the time so you don't end up with potato mush. Core and cut the cabbage up into quarters before thickly slicing it to make it more bite-sized. Add a little thyme in at the end, taste and adjust seasonings and serve. This is a very nice soup that I think you'll enjoy. Here's how to make it.

Recipe: Ham and Cabbage Soup

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 1 hour 20 min | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings

  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 cup of chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup of chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1 cup of chopped ham
  • 1 medium ham hock
  • 1 quart of chicken stock or broth
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1/2 tablespoon of chicken base (like Better Than Bouillon)
  • 3 cups of peeled, chopped potatoes (not diced)
  • 4 cups of thickly shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme

Add the bacon to a Dutch oven or large heavy pot and cook until fat is rendered. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and ham. Slash the ham hock lightly with a knife and add that; pour in the chicken stock and water. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce and simmer for 1 hour if possible; 30 minutes at minimum.

Stir in the chicken base, potatoes, cabbage, salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in the thyme; taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Cook's Notes: I used Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock which is an excellent commercial stock product. You can also simply use 2 quarts of water if you prefer, however, let the ham hock simmer for the full hour if you do. Can also increase the amount of cabbage if you like, and substitute or add in some sliced, smoked sausage browned in a bit of olive oil, for the bacon if you prefer. Substitute or add in a can of white beans for the potatoes.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on December 9, 2011

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