Economical Ham and Cabbage Soup

vintage French ad for sausage

According to the 1868 book Gardening for the South, the cabbage was one of the most useful crops in cultivation at the time. “It is a crop that can be put on every bit of otherwise idle ground,” the book advises, “They can be planted between beds and rows of anything and everything else, to be eaten as greens when young, or left to head on the coming off of other crops, and if there should be a superabundance above the wants of the family, nothing is better for the cow and the pig.”

Certainly the cabbage is an economical, nutritional powerhouse. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, and contains significant amounts of glutamine. In folk medicine, it’s used to treat inflammation; a paste of raw cabbage may be placed in a cabbage leaf and wrapped around the affected area to reduce discomfort.

Below is a recipe from a 1945 advertisement for Armor Ham using plenty of cabbage. If you want to make the dish even more economical, use a ham bone instead of the flesh to season the soup.

Armor’s Star Ham and Cabbage Soup

2 tbsps. butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
3 tbsps. flour
3 cups boiling water
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups cooked, cubed Armor star ham
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup thick sour cream
2 tbsps, chopped parsley

Lightly fry onion, celery, green pepper in butter until clear. Remove from heat, stir in flour and slowly add boiling water. Return to heat and add cabbage, Armor’s star ham and seasonings. Cook eight to ten minutes or until cabbage is tender. Remove bay leaf. Add sour cream and parsley. Let heat through. Top each serving with a sprig of parsley, 6 generous servings. (Only fifteen minutes and “soup’s on”)


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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