Preview: This hearty Ham Stew with beef and bacon satisfies and warms but won’t leave you weighed down. The secret is in the apple-flavored broth.
My favorite soup recipe on this blog is Ham Stew. #1!! On a cold and blustery day, nothing warms your innards better than this meaty bowl of soup with a broth that’s slurpin’ good. It’s filling, but not heavy on your belly since there is no gravy or cream sauce.
The secret to this ham stew is the broth. Invisible sliced apples add a subtle sweetness.
You can’t see the apples without a close inspection, but they work magic. Honestly, I would be content with a piece of hot, crusty cornbread and a bowl of broth alone. Tasty and comforting!
Leave out one (optional) ingredient to make this stew gluten-free and grain-free.
This Cabbage Stew recipe is packed with beef, ham, and bacon for a most satisfying soup. is an unforgettable combination of smoky bacon, tender chunks of beef chuck, cubes of ham, cabbage, apples, and other veggies combined with a delicious beef broth.
Ingredients and substitutions:
Ham: This soup is a great recipe for leftover ham. Or plan ahead. Around the holidays is an opportune time to pick up an unsliced ham on sale. Cut it into small half-inch chunks and freeze for this soup.
Cubed Chuck Roast: Stew meat works perfectly. I try to buy chuck roast on sale, cut it up myself, and freeze it for future stew.
Bacon: Bacon is essential to this stew. If you want to use pre-cooked bacon pieces, be sure to add bacon grease to brown the stew meat. Although you can use oil instead, bacon grease adds a ton of flavor.
Onions: Yellow onions are the best for most soups, in my opinion. White onions will work, too. Frozen onions are also fabulous and more convenient.
Apples: The best apples will “melt” into this soup while cooking. I don’t want to see chunks of apple floating around in my soup.
The best apples will “melt” into this soup while cooking. I don’t want to see chunks of apple floating around in my soup.
My preferred apple for this recipe is Golden Delicious. Granny Smith would also work.
The recipe calls for 2 cups of finely chopped apples. This usually requires 2 medium apples or 3 small apples. A little more or less than 2 cups is fine.
Carrots: Scrape or peel regular carrots and slice about 1/4-inch thick. Save a little time by using baby carrots since you won’t have to peel or scrub. Cut them in about four slices since they are smaller in diameter.
Cabbage: The only important tip to mention about the cabbage is not to let it cook too long at the end. I like it to be a little bit soft with a little bit of crunch. Is it appropriate to say the cabbage should be “al dente”?
Is this ham stew recipe grain-free and/or gluten-free?
Yes, both, IF you leave out the optional Worcestershire sauce. It’s not a deal-breaker when it comes to this recipe. Your soup will still be delicious.
Stove-top, slow cooker, or pressure cooker?
For the 25-30 years that I’ve been making this recipe, I did it on top of the stove. You can, too. Allow 2-1/2 to 3 hours. See the notes in the recipe for detailed instructions.
Then I started doing it in my slow cooker. After frying the bacon, brown the beef. Then add the onions, apples, ham, and carrots, along with the broth and other seasonings.
After cooking the meat and veggies all day, add the cabbage and bacon for the last 10 minutes before you are ready to serve. This is a good plan if you can’t be home during the day.
Are you a pressure cooker or Instant Pot fan? I sure am. You can make this hearty soup from start to finish in about an hour. Maybe not the first time. Much of that time is while the stew is in the pressure cooker, giving you time to throw together some cornbread if you like.
With a little practice, this extraordinary ham stew will come together fast. See the video for more details about making this recipe in a pressure cooker.
How to make Ham Stew with an Instant Pot:
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Hearty Ham Stew Recipe
- 4 strips bacon - cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound boneless chuck - cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 medium onion - chopped
- 2 cups apples - peeled and finely chopped (I prefer Golden Delicious)
- 2 cups carrots - sliced in 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup ham - small cubes
- 1 cup beef broth - I like Better Than Bouillon beef base, 1 teaspoon + 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4-5 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups cabbage - coarsely chopped
Directions for Instant Pot:
- Set Instant Pot to Sauté. Fry chopped bacon until crispy. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Sauté beef in two batches in the pot using the leftover bacon grease.
- Meanwhile, chop onions, apples, and carrots.
- Add chopped onion to the browned beef chunks (which have all been added back to the pot) and cook until onions are soft.
- Add apples, carrots, ham, broth, 4 cups of water, Worcestershire sauce, and a bay leaf. Cover and set to cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. Allow the pot to release pressure naturally for 10 minutes. At this point, pot can sit unopened for hours until you are ready to eat.
- Ten minutes before serving, change the Instant Pot to Sauté. Add cabbage and bacon. Cook for about 10 minutes. Cabbage should still have a slight crispness to it. Remove bay leaf before serving.
- Fry bacon in a large dutch oven. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Saute beef in bacon grease.
- Meanwhile, prepare onions, apples, and carrots.
- Add chopped onions and cook until softened.
- Add apples, carrots, ham, broth, and 4 cups of water and a bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
- Depending on how much the broth has reduced, you may need to add some water. You need enough to cover all the ingredients with a little to spare.
- Ten minutes before serving, add cabbage and bacon. Cabbage should still have a slight crispness to it. Remove bay leaf before serving.