This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Smoked Ham Hock, Rye and Cavolo Nero Soup


18th June, 2013
Dave Verheul and Christian McCabe of The Town Mouse
Tuesday 18th June 2013
The Town Mouse team join us again today with a very fitting recipe for this week's chilly temperatures - a hearty Smoked Ham Hock, Rye and Cavolo Nero Soup.  As Christian says below, this rich, comforting meal really is the ultimate nourishing mid-week-mid-winter soul food! - Lucy

Smoked Ham Hock, Rye and Cavolo Nero Soup from the clever lads at The Town Mouse.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

Everyone should have a wholesome wintery soup in their repertoire. Whether it's your health or your soul that needs restoration, this smoky, slurpy super-food laden soup is what we all wish someone would bring us when we're feeling a little under the weather.  Simmering on the stove, a soup fills your home with warmth, goodness, and the promise of many a nourishing meal in the coming days.

Ham hocks are so great to cook with, they imbue the rest of the dish with their smoky goodness, and create a rich, silky textured broth.  We think this soup is a meal in itself, but it's also a great one to have on standby in the fridge, for a warming cup when you get home from work, chilled to the core after waiting too long at the tram stop, or damp from the soggy bike ride home. Paired with cheesy toast, and accompanied with a rich bottle of Porter or textural glass of white, this is the ultimate mid-week-mid-winter soul food.


1 smoked ham hock
1 onion
1 celery stick
1 carrot
4 garlic cloves
50g rye grain
5g thyme
1 rosemary sprig
1 bayleaf
100g cavolo nero, washed and sliced
10g parsley, chopped
1 lemon zest
30ml olive oil


Dave trims the cavolo nero.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

In a medium sized pot take the smoked ham hock and cover with water, bring to the boil and gently simmer for two to three hours. You may need to top up the water every now and again.

When the meat is falling off the bone tender, remove the pot from the heat and leave the ham hock to cool in the liquid for one hour. When cool enough to handle, carefully pick the meat from the bone and strain the stock, reserve both.

Cut the onion, carrot, celery and garlic into a small dice. Gently caramelise these ingredients in a medium sized pot, when they're nice and golden add the reserved ham hock stock, rye and the hard herbs.

Bring to a simmer and cook until the rye is soft (about 15 - 20 mins), then add the cavolo nero and continue to cook until the cabbage is tender (about 10 - 15 mins). When the soup is ready, take it off the heat and add the chopped parsley, lemon zest and olive oil. Season well. A nice hearty meal for a cold winter's day!

MASSIVE thanks to The Town Mouse team for sharing their impressive culinary repertoire with us this month.  Do pop in to The Town Mouse at 312 Drummond St, Carlton, where you will find this and many more amazing dishes on the menu!  Say hi from us!

Dave serves up the soup.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email