This easy cabbage soup with ham is hearty, healthy, easy to make, and tastes fantastic.
How to Make The Best Cabbage Soup
Cabbage soup may not sound like the most exciting meal, but trust me this version with ham, carrots, and onions is delicious! Cabbage soups are popular around the world and became very popular thanks to the cabbage soup diet. This recipe isn’t necessarily a diet recipe, but it is nutritious, low calorie, and tastes amazing!
Cabbage is underrated. It’s good for you with high levels of vitamin C, is antioxidant-rich, and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s also tasty. You can roast it, cook it on the stovetop, and add it to soups and stews. (You may enjoy our lemon garlic sauteed cabbage.)
Since cabbage shrinks and softens when it’s cooked, you can add lots of it to the pot. In this easy cabbage soup, we add eight whole cups of chopped cabbage, and to be honest, you could probably stir in quite a bit more.
We love cabbage in soups so much, that we even add some to our favorite vegetable soup. That recipe is entirely vegetarian, but for this version, we add a little bit of ham for flavor and extra protein.
Have you ever had ham in soup? Oh, it’s delicious. As the soup simmers, the ham flavors and seasons the broth. The soup becomes rich, hearty, and ultra-flavorful.
If you don’t have any ham on hand or do not eat meat, you can leave the ham out. It will still be terrific.
Here are a few reasons we love this cabbage soup recipe:
- With over 12 cups of vegetables added, this vegetable-packed soup is healthy, easy to make, and tastes incredible.
- There’s no fancy ingredients and everything needed is affordable.
- You can take advantage of seasonal ingredients and use whatever cabbage is available. We used green cabbage in our photos, but savoy cabbage, Napa cabbage, and even Bok choy will work in its place.
- The soup keeps well and tastes even better the next day, making it perfect to pack for lunches or make ahead for dinner tomorrow night. Leftover soup will last about three days in the refrigerator.
- You can freeze it up to a month, if not more!
Making cabbage soup is simple, and it all happens in one pot!
Here’s an overview of how to make our cabbage soup (the full soup recipe is below):
- Sweat onions, carrots, and ham in olive oil. The ham browns a little and adds lots of flavor to the soup.
- Add more flavor with garlic, rosemary, pepper, and salt.
- Stir in the cabbage, and then pour in some stock, a can of diced tomatoes, and bay leaves.
- Simmer until the veggies are tender (about 20 minutes).
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a few lemon slices to brighten up the soup.
This cabbage soup has lots of possible variations. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Leave out the ham and use vegetable stock for vegetarian cabbage soup.
- Swap the ham for bacon or sausage.
- For a beef and cabbage soup, brown ground beef in the pan before adding the onions and carrots. Leave out the ham.
- For a turkey or chicken cabbage soup, leave out the ham and stir in cooked and shredded turkey or chicken into the broth.
- Add more protein by adding cooked, or canned beans — white beans, chickpeas, and black beans would be excellent.
- For cabbage and potato soup, add potatoes along with the stock and tomatoes.
- Make it creamy and add a splash of cream, milk, or unsweetened dairy-free milk like coconut. You can also serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream.
- We love the combination of rosemary, garlic, and pepper, but you can use other spices. Try Italian seasoning, Za’atar spice blend, Cajun seasoning, or chili powder (here’s our homemade chili powder blend).
- Add in some extra veggies. The number of vegetables you add to the soup is up to you. Feel free to toss in a handful of other veggies like spinach, cauliflower, summer squash, peas or corn.
More Simple, Healthy Recipes
- For creamy blended vegetable soup, try our Creamy Vegetable Soup Recipe. It has lots of rave reviews.
- Use our Homemade Vegetable Broth for the base of your soup. It’s rich and ultra-satisfying.
- Try our Easy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. It’s easy to make and tastes incredible.
Easy Ham and Cabbage Soup
This easy cabbage soup recipe is hearty, healthy, easy to make, and tastes fantastic. Before adding to the soup, taste your ham to see how salty it is. Depending on the salt level, you may not need to add any additional salt to the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the soup a few times during cooking.
You Will Need
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (1 medium)
2 cups chopped carrot (4 medium)
1 1/2 cups cubed lean ham steak (7.5 ounces)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or use 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
8 cups chopped cabbage (1 1/2 pounds)
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
6 cups low sodium chicken, ham or vegetable stock/broth, see our chicken stock recipe
2 bay leaves
Salt, to taste
3 lemon slices or more to taste
1Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a stockpot pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and the ham. Cook, stirring every once and a while until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent; 8 to 10 minutes.
2Add the garlic, rosemary, black pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Cook, while stirring, for one minute. Stir in the cabbage, and then pour in the canned tomatoes and their juices as well as the stock. Add the bay leaves.
3Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. Taste then adjust with salt. The ham does add some salt to the soup so you may not need a lot of additional seasoning.
4Partially cover the pot with a lid, and then reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the cabbage, and other vegetables are tender.
5Remove the pot from the heat and remove the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon slices and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Taste and season with more salt and pepper. Serve.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Why lemon slices? While we don’t actually eat the lemon slices, by adding them to the soup, they brighten up the flavors a bit. You can also squeeze in fresh lemon juice or use vinegar like apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar.
- Use Fresh tomatoes: Substitute about 1 pound (5 to 6 tomatoes) for one (15-ounce can) of diced tomatoes.
- Store leftover soup up to 3 days in the refrigerator and up to a month in the freezer.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. Calculations included low sodium chicken broth.