Ham Hock and Cabbage Soup

Here’s a slow simmering all day soup that is sure to please the inner redneck-child is us all. From my ‘pork preservation’ book, its a shredded cabbage soup augmented with a small ham hock. Now, if you’re not used to buying such delicacies, make sure you buy a smoked ham hock. I have noticed that the local Met Foods by me is starting to sell un-smoked hocks. Personally I’ve never heard of un-smoked hock, but there they are… all pink and colorful. Perhaps, I’ll pick up one of these and smoke it myself, but that’s a task for another day. Meanwhile, on with the soup…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 tbsp bacon fat
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 celery ribs chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 garlic cloved minced
  • 1 small head of green cabbage shredded
  • 1 medium smoked ham hock
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt pepper Tabasco to taste

Sauté onion, celery, carrot, garlic w bacon about five minutes. Add cabbage sauté about five minutes. Nestle ham hock in the cabbage. Add remaining ingredients plus enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil, skim scum off the top, reduce heat, simmer about two hours till ham is tender. Remove ham hock, discard skin and fat, chop the remaining meat and return it to the soup… stir well and serve.


Comfort Soup – Split Pea

As the cold weather begins to creep in, and a new exorcism movie is making the rounds, I can hear the comforting call of a nice hot pot of pea soup. Yes, there is no greater friend to a ham hock than a piping pot of split peas.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 1 lb (2 1/4 cups) green split peas
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, halved
  • Salt and Pepper

Pick over the peas and remove any stones. Wash and drain peas. Place in a 4 quart pan with the vegetables ham hocks and 2 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer. Skim the top of the soup for several minutes clearing the froth that floats along. Cover and simmer about 1 1/2 hours until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they stick to the bottom of the pan.

Remove the ham hocks from the soup. Purée the soup with a blender;  I use my immersion blender right in the pot, its great for this; if you are using a regular blender, take care to work in batches and only fill the blender halfway if the soup is still hot, and hold down the lid while blending. If you want an exceptionally smooth soup, pass the purée through a sieve, but I prefer mine a bit on the lumpy side.

Remove the skin from the hocks and dice up the meat. At this point you can scour the fridge for any left over ham bits and pieces. This is one really good soup for using up those porcine scraps.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into warm bowls. I like to serve this with fresh warm pumpernickel bread.