Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Crockpot (or Stovetop) Recipe for Ham and Cabbage Soup with Red Bell Pepper

Ham and Cabbage Soup with Red Bell PepperEveryone who's pretty much overdosed on rich holiday food, raise their hand (Kalyn raises her hand.) After a few weeks of testing and eating Christmas cookies, my body is telling me I need some vegetables! For anyone who feels like cooking something relatively light and nutritious before the actual holiday gets here, this cabbage soup is just the thing. And if you're thinking about the cabbage soup diet, forget that thought, because in this flavorful soup the cabbage is melt-in-your-mouth tender from slow cooking, and there are lots of herbs and spices to make this a very tasty soup.

The recipe was inspired by a cabbage soup recipe in Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking, a fun book written by my friend and fellow food blogger Stephanie O'Dea from A Year of Slow Cooking. (Stephanie even used one of my recipes in the book!) I'm a better at creating recipes than I am following them though, so I turned Stephanie's recipe into ham and cabbage soup. I also used Vegeta Gourmet Seasoning to flavor my soup, which is a spice blend and soup mix from Croatia which I know most of you guys won't have. No worries though, this soup will still be delicious without it. You can also make the soup on the stove if you don't have a slow cooker; check after the main recipe for that version.

Start by chopping up a whole head of cabbage. I had about 1 3/4 lbs. of cabbage after I trimmed it and removed the core.

Chop up an onion and a red bell pepper into same-size pieces. I made them fairly small.

I had some lovely thin carrots, so I just sliced them into round pieces. If you have thicker carrots, I'd chop them up a bit more.

Cut up some enough ham to make about 2 cups of diced ham (1 1/4 lb.) Remember to choose ham with less than 10% fat for the South Beach Diet.

I save the ham rinds and use them to make ham stock (more to come about that!)

Put the cabbage, onion, red bell pepper, carrots, diced ham, spices, and dried herbs into the crockpot.

Add 6 cups ham stock and 2 cups water and cook on high for 4-6 hours.

If you can find it in your store, this Goya Ham Flavored Concentrate is a product I love to use when I don't have ham stock. If you can't find this product, you can also order Ham Flavor Base from Penzeys. This soup can also be made with chicken or vegetable stock.

It's not especially a photogenic soup, but this soup was really delicious, especially with a bit of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top when you eat it!

Crockpot (or Stovetop) Recipe for Ham and Cabbage Soup with Red Bell Pepper
(Makes 6-8 servings, recipe adapted from Cabbage Soup in Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking.)

1 head cabbage, chopped (about 1 3/4 -2 lbs. after chopping)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 large or 3 small carrots, cut in small rounds or chopped
2 cup diced lean ham (1 1/4 lbs. ham)
1 tsp. Spike Seasoning (or use other all-purpose seasoning mix if you don't have Spike)
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 T dried parsley
1 T Vegeta Gourmet Seasoning (If you don't have this, just use a bit more of the other seasonings or a T of another type of dried soup flavoring)
2 bay leaves
coarse ground black pepper to taste (I used a generous amount of pepper)
6 cups ham stock (You can also use chicken or vegetable stock.)
2 cup water
Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional, but good)

I used a 3.5 quart "Smart Pot" slow cooker for this recipe, where you can program the time and it switches to warm when the time is up. You can use any slow cooker that's a 3-4 quart size.

Chop cabbage, onion, red bell pepper, carrots and ham and add to slow cooker. Add Spike Seasoning, garlic, parsley, Vegeta (if using), bay leaves and black pepper. Pour in ham, chicken, or vegetable stock and water. (You may want to add a little salt if you don't use ham stock.)

Cook on high for 4-6 hours, until cabbage is meltingly soft and carrots are tender. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Stovetop Directions:
Heat about 1 T of olive oil in a heavy soup pot. Add onions and saute 3-4 minutes. Add carrots and bell peppers and cook 3-4 minutes more. Add cabbage, ham, Spike Seasoning, garlic, parsley, Vegeta (if using), bay leaves and black pepper. Pour in ham, chicken, or vegetable stock and water. (You may want to add a little salt if you don't use ham stock.) Simmer soup on low for about 30 minutes, then check to see if you need to add a little more water, adding if needed. Continue to simmer 15-30 minutes more, until cabbage is meltingly soft and carrots are tender. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese if desired.

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South Beach Suggestions:
With all the healthful and low-glycemic cabbage, this soup is a great choice for the South Beach Diet, although it would be phase two with the carrots. I think this would still be great without carrots if you wanted to make it for phase one though, maybe adding some chopped celery or even more onion. Remember the South Beach guideline to choose ham with less than 10% fat if you're making this for the diet.

More Delicious Soups with Cabbage:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Goulash Soup with Red Pepper and Cabbage from Kalyn's Kitchen
Anasazi Bean and Cabbage Soup from Kalyn's Kitchen
Ground Beef and Sauerkraut Soup from Kalyn's Kitchen
Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) from Wandering Chopsticks
Hearty Winter Soup: Beans, Cabbage, and Farro from Cookbook Catchall
Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup from Blog Appetit
Hot and Sour Cabbage Soup from Baking Bites
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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More to Chew On:


  1. Very hearty and warming soup. I love the green bowl too. Happy Holidays.

  2. This looks wonderful, Kalyn! Thank you for the sweet words.
    Merry Christmas!
    oxxo steph

  3. much much better than that cabbage soup diet my wife does every few months. that works, but I just can't do it...

    This I could do

  4. Looks delicious! Merry Christmas.

  5. Wow, the broth looks almost gooey, in a good way. But then again it does look like broth, but delicious all the same. :)

  6. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has had it with the cookies and is ready for soup! (And yes, this is better than the diet cabbage soup by a long ways!)

  7. I love my Penzey's ham based stock, too. It adds a lot of smoky flavor without TOO much salt!

    Love ham and cabbage soup! I never made it with red pepper, but it looks so pretty!

  8. Roberta, thanks for the reminder about Penzeys Ham Flavor Base, will edit to add a link for that!

  9. I love cabbage, I love ham and I love Red bell pepper. What a great soup. Will be saving this one. Thanks for the recipe and Merry Christmas.

  10. I am raising my hand, too, Kalyn! This soup looks like it will hit the spot. As always, you seem to know just what I am craving!

    Question: Have you ever tried throwing a Parmesan rind (you know, the very end of the cheese that is too hard to grate) into the soup as it is simmering?

    I heard about this somewhere, and I tried it recently in some minestrone I made and it really does add nice flavor.

    Love and Joy Unto You this holiday season!


  11. Donna, I think adding parmesan rind to this soup if you have it is a great idea! Thanks for the suggestion, and Merry Christmas to you too!

  12. How Wonderful - Another use for the HUGE thing of VEGETA I have! (Romanian husband, enough said.)

    Looks Great Kalyn, and you're always a step ahead of us, providing nice light veggie dishes *just* when we're all hankering for them.

    Youre the best!

    Georgie Fear RD

  13. Thanks for linking to my cabbage soup recipe.

    A note about vegeta, I first had it in a delicious soup in Croatia and could not believe my hostess when she told me about it. I brought back a few packets but have found cans of it in ethnic markets in Latin, Middle Eastern, Asian and Eastern European communities here in the San Francsico Bay Area, so it's out there.

  14. What a wonderful soup! And great suggestions from the rest of you!

  15. Delicious! I look forward to throwing in my favorite vegetables after a holiday season full of desserts and big chunks of meat :) Merry Christmas!

  16. just discovered your blog! love it. I will be back. amy

  17. I loved this soup! I made it twice in 2 days! We have finished off both batches! What a keeper! (You AND the soup! LOL)

  18. Thanks everyone! So glad people are liking the soup.

  19. Can I freeze it? Please answer. Made it yesterday, but unusual circumstances have arisen, and we will not be around to eat the significant amount left. It's delicious, by the way, and what I needed to rid myself of too much sugar recently.

  20. Laura, sorry to be slow to answer. I've been away all day and just got back on the computer. I haven't frozen this soup, but I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't freeze well. Hope you've already put it in the freezer by now!

  21. I made this right after the holidays, when I was definately feeling over the overindulgence. It turned out great. I did not have vegetta, so just added more of the spike seasoning. I had a jar of roasted red peppers, so I used those instead of fresh. Also, I used chicken stock, instead of ham, which I had on hand. Absolutely wonderful. And I did freeze it and the reheated, frozen, leftovers were great as well.

  22. Hi Lori, thanks for the great feedback. Good to know it will freeze well too.

  23. VEGETA?! I threw mine out after reading the ingredients and seeing that it was mostly salt and MSG. The soup was great without it.


  24. Brad your choice of course. I'm not sensitive to MSG and the amount of sodium in the Vegeta is not that high if you divide by how many servings in the soup, but good to hear you liked it without it.


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