Like many families, mine often has surplus ham after our Easter celebrations. And every year, I’m on a mission to try to repurpose it in unusual ways, outside the standard “ham sandwiches.” I use the leftovers for all manner of things: omelets and frittatas, pasta, Chinese fried rice, and, of course, the classic split-pea-and-ham soup. Then there was the year I invented Ham, Parsnip, and Sauerkraut Fritters, which—I’m not going to lie—were downright incredible and highly recommended (in addition to this soup!), should you find yourself with more ham than you can use.
Soups are on heavy-rotation in my house, even in the warmer months, and they’re even better when they only contain a handful of ingredients and can be on the table in less than 45 minutes. I opted not to thicken the broth at all in this version, to create a soup that was rich in flavor, but not too rib-sticking. This Ham and Cabbage Chowder is both hearty and light, making it ideal for drizzly spring days that aren’t quite cold enough to yearn for a heavy, beefy stew. If you do desire a thicker broth, feel free to thicken with any starch of your choosing.
The cabbage lends a sweetness to the broth and plays beautifully off the saltiness of the ham. Potatoes are included, to stick with tradition, but could be swapped for another root veggie; daikon or turnip would be ideal. And for additional springtime flair, baby peas or asparagus would be exceptionally well-suited here. If you’re preparing this with store-bought ham, not leftover, try to find a smoked ham hock, or some quality cooked ham from your favorite prepared foods or deli department. Serve with a simple salad and some crusty bread for a well-rounded, family-friendly meal.
Creamy Ham and Cabbage Chowder
Makes approximately 3 quarts
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1 lb. cooked ham, shredded into large, bite-sized pieces
1 large potato, diced
1 small cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
1½ quarts chicken broth or ham stock
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional ingredients: asparagus, peas, fresh herbs
- Melt butter in a heavy pot. Add onion, cook for 5 minutes. Add potato and cook a couple more minutes. Pour in broth.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add ham, cabbage, and cream. Continue simmering about 10-15 minutes longer, until potatoes are cooked through.
- If using, add asparagus and/or peas during last 5 minutes.
Image from Briana Goodall.