Kale with Smoked Ham Hocks

    Kale – it’s hardy and nutritious, and it is prospering in our garden despite the summer heat. Must admit that I’ve tried to like it in those trendy green smoothies or even raw in salads . . . but “like” is not a description I use for it in those forms. I do like it in soups and stews — when it has had plenty of time to wilt and also to lose the slight bitterness I often detect in the raw form.

Kale with Smoked Ham Hocks     8 to 10 servings
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 smoked ham hocks
5 to 6 cups water (start out with 5 adding more as needed)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup pearl barley
4 cups fresh kale
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon vinegar – either white or cider
  1. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or large sauce. Add onions and sauté.
  2. Add ham hocks, water, crushed red pepper and garlic. Cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 2 hours or until hocks are tender. Add pearl barley about last 20 minutes of cooking time.
  3. Wash kale; cut or pull the leaves from stems and finely chop (it will look like a lot but will cook down). Add greens and salt to hocks. Cook 30 to 40 minutes or until greens are done and barley is tender. Add vinegar, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Remove meat from ham hock bones and serve.
Ham hocks have been added to the sautéd onions (step #2)
Kale has wilted and is tender; it cooks along with the ham hocks and barley.


  1. There is absolutely no way you can use 4 pounds of Fresh Kale. I think you need to reevaluate what you think 4 pounds is. I purchased only 3, against my better judgement, and it is just an enormous amount of kale. Readers beware! I'd recommend only 1.5lbs or 1 bussel for this recipe. 4 pounds is an entire kitchen counter full of fresh kale. I'm sure the soup will be delicious and I'm excited about it, but good god the amount of kale.

    1. Coming back to report that it is impossible to fit even 2 pounds of Kale in to this recipe.

    2. Please read the comment (shown below) I added right after you posted the first time . . . saying that it should have been 4 cups not 4 lbs. -- I've corrected it above!

    3. Hahaha. No worries. The good news is I put way more than 4 cups in and it turned out fantastic. I changed it up a little bit and added a tablespoon of crushed red pepper instead of a teaspoon. To bring back the spiciness a little I added about a tablespoon and a half of honey and it made it perfect. Two thumbs up. This is a recipe I'll have in my arsenal for the rest of my life. Cheers.

    4. Yeah! Glad it turned out and, thanks for calling my attention to the mistake! I sometimes read what I THINK I wrote rather than what's before my eyes. Both Barry and I tend to "play around" with and tweak recipes so I'll certainly try adding the honey. And, while I'd love to add that much crushed red pepper, Barry would probably not be able to handle the heat! Thanks for sticking with the recipe and keeping me up-to-date.

  2. Yikes! You are right! It should be 4 cups not pounds! I've made the corrections.Here are some other kale recipes on our blog: http://cookingwithbarryandmeta.blogspot.com/2013/07/kale-potatoes-and-bean-pot-with-ham.html
    Here are some other kale links as well: http://cookingwithbarryandmeta.blogspot.com/2011/11/fall-flavors-kale-sweet-potato-sausage.html / http://cookingwithbarryandmeta.blogspot.com/2012/02/everything-but-kitchen-sink-chicken.html / http://cookingwithbarryandmeta.blogspot.com/2011/11/wishbone-soup-leftover-turkey-soup.html