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~ My Mom's Traditional Ham Cabbage & Potato Soup ~

IMG_6977What makes this ethnic, hearty, peasant soup traditional?

Every time my mother has a meaty ham bone in her hand, she makes "ham and cabbage".  It is a brothy concoction of ham, carrots, celery, onions and potatoes seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper.  I grew up loving cabbage and I adore this "boiled dinner".  I am Russian Orthodox (Eastern European).  Cabbage juice runs through our veins -- Russian babies are born into the world loving cabbage (and potatoes).  This soup was one of my father's mother's specialties.  

IMG_6019Over the course of the past week I've been extolling the joys of ~ Hog Heaven:  Smoked Ham Shanks & Ham Hocks ~, and discussing ~ Quick-Soaking Dried Beans vs. Overnight Soaking ~.   With them I made ~ Monday's Washday Dinner:  Red Beans and Rice ~, Wednesday's ~ Thick and Creamy Crockpot Split Pea & Ham Soup ~, and, on Friday, I posted ~ Under Pressure:  Ham, Cabbage and IMG_6275Potato Soup ~, which I made in the pressure cooker.  You can get all of the recipes by clicking on the Related Article links below.

One of my friends from high school ('70-'73), wrote on Facebook: "Mel, I hope one of your posts this week will include ham and cabbage soup." I knew what recipe Marilyn wanted. I also knew she wanted the version made on the stovetop.

IMG_6963Mom's stovetop meal is every bit as delicious as my pressure cooker meal, but timing & technique differ enough to merit its own post.

IMG_6897In a 6-quart stockpot, place:

2  meaty smoked ham shanks, about 2 1/2 pounds total

1  quart chicken stock

6  cups water, or enough to cover the shanks

~ Step 1.  Bring to a boil over high heat, adjust heat to a steady simmer, cover the pot and continue to simmer until the meat is falling off the bones, about 1 1/2 hours.

IMG_6289~ Step 2.  Turn heat off.  Using a slotted spoon, remove  shanks from broth.  Pull meat from bones and chop into bite-sized pieces.  You'll have about 2 cups of meat.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

~ Step 3.  Season the broth with:

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

1/2  teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Note:  Shanks and hocks add a lot of salt as they cook, which is why I never salt at the onset.

IMG_6746 IMG_6754 IMG_6763 IMG_6768





IMG_6912~ Steps 4, 5, 6 & 7:  Prep the following vegetables (as pictured above) as directed below:

2 cups coarse-chopped onion

1 cup coarse-chopped celery

2  cups coarse-chopped carrot

4 cups chunked gold potatoes  

Return the broth to a steady simmer and add veggies all at once.

IMG_6918~ IMG_6736 Step 8. While the vegetables are returning to a simmer in the stockpot, core and coarsely chop 1 medium head of green cabbage.  When the pot has just returned to a simmer, add:

4-5 cups of coarse-chopped green cabbage

IMG_6924The pot will be just about full.  

IMG_6928~ Step 9. Stir well, cover the pot and continue to cook 8-10 minutes, or until the carrots and potatoes are fork tender.  Timing varies according to the size of your potato chunks and the heat of your stove.  Stir in the ham chunks and remove pot from heat.

Portion into bowls & serve garnished w/freshly-ground pepper:

IMG_6988My Mom's Traditional Ham Cabbage & Potato Soup:  Recipe yields 4 quarts/8 hearty main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List:  6-quart stockpot w/lid; large slotted spoon; plastic wrap; cutting board chef's knife; vegetable peeler; soup ladle

IMG_6833Cook's Note:  This soup does not freeze well, but, no worries.  It keeps 5-6 days in the refrigerator and reheats perfectly in the microwave (I recommend the microwave because it maintains the texture of the vegetables)!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 


My favorite soup of all time. I usually make a huge batch and freeze or share with kids and grands. Flavors are amazing!!

Kristen -- I feel your excitement. Your house is going to smell like home very shortly. Thank you for the sweet comment! ~ Melanie

Just wanted you to know it's 36Β° here and I'm making this soup today!!!πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹ I'm way more excited than I should be!!

Kristen -- You just made my day!

This is by FAR the best ham soup I have ever had!!! Every time I think of buying cabbage this recipe comes to mind and I just can't help but go out and get the shanks to make it... It's cooking right now as I type! And the smell omg it's amazing! Thank you for this has become a staple for my family especially during the cold months... It's a keeper!!

Destiny -- As clearly stated in the recipe, 1 1/2 hours to cook the ham, then roughly another 20 minutes to simmer the vegetables. Factor in the few minutes it takes to prep the vegetables (onion, celery, carrots, potatoes and cabbage), I'd say about 2 total hours.

How long does this take all together to make

Thanks for the kind words Ernest! ~ Melanie

This looks amazingly Delicious, in fact it looks like a dish my Mom prepared except she used either Beef or Chicken,but the veggies looked like this,Brings back many memories. I love all the potatoes and the ham sure makes this dish. Thank You
Chef Ernie

Lynn -- I hope your soup turns out exactly like you remember it, and, I am pleased to be a part of it. This is indeed a vintage recipe that should not be lost or forgotten. Let me know how it turns out after you make it! ~ Melanie

P.S. But my mother had nine children, so maybe the idea of removing most of the cabbage was her way of getting some nutrients into us. So there were slivers of cabbage here and there, thick bite sized potatoes, carrots, ham and I think I remember parsley. lol

OMG this looks so delicious. My mother died, and I'm trying to imagine her cabbage soup when I was growing up. You are so similar in ingredients, but I remember smelling a pot of boiling water with cabbage in it, and how it permeated the house. I'm trying to remember, and I think she boiled the cabbage for a long time, and it was the actual cabbage juice that made the potatoes and carrots taste so good. I'm thinking she maybe took the cabbage out then only chopped up the good stuff to add back in. Then added the ham or something. Thanks for your ingredients. :)

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