Ham, Sausage, Beans, Potato and Cabbage Stew (Ollada)

French jazz is playing in the background, I’ve got a big steaming pot of mouth-watering fragrant ollada. There’s fresh baguette, oh and there’s a bottle of chilled white wine. The house feels cozy and it smells amazing. Outside, the cherry blossoms lining the streets of Victoria are in full bloom. After a long drawn out West Coast winter that kind of stretched into a good part of spring, it feels good to tuck into this.

On my couch there’s Dany Laferrière’s book, Pays sans chapeau waiting to be devoured.

It’s Sunday. Life is good.

P.S. Ollada is a French Catalan dish made with ham bones, beef, blood sausage, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, leeks, cannellini and garbanzo beans seasoned with lard, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, garlic and onion. It cooks for about 4 – 5 hours on low heat. It’s traditionally served with anchovy in olive oil but I’m not really a fan, so I don’t even bother with them. It is stick to your ribs, hearty peasant food and it’s pretty damn good.

Ollada will not be crowned Miss Universe any time soon. It doesn’t photograph well. Okay, I’m making excuses for my bad photography skills but still it’s really not pretty. My recipe is far from the real thing by the way. I probably should not even call it ollada but I like the name. I can’t find the most important ingredients so I just grabbed whatever was available at the market. You can find the original recipe in the Le pays Catalan episode of Les carnets de Julie. It’s my favourite travel and cooking show. Yup, it’s in French.

When I said that it takes 4 – 5 hours to cook, please know that I am not joking. Most of it is passive time though, just the stove doing it’s job. You can read a book, watch 3 episodes of whatever on Netflix, or sleep because why not? I really think that once all the meats are browned, you can just throw everything in a slow cooker and leave it to cook for maybe overnight and you’ll get the same result.

Ham, Sausage, Beans, Potato and Cabbage Soup (Ollada)


  • 1 ham hock
  • 2 smoked sausage – use blood sausage if you can find it
  • 4 pieces of beef short ribs
  • 2 pcs. of duck confit (mine’s store bought, don’t judge)
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of duck fat from the duck confit or lard or olive oil
  • 1 bottle of Riesling or any white wine
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 medium Savoy cabbage, cut in quarters
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced (white parts only)
  • 1 large onion, cut in half
  • 8 cloves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water
  • 1 cup of dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight in cold water
  • a small bunch of rosemary, thyme and 4 bay leaves tied together (bouquet garni if you want the fancy name)
  • 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


  1. You will need a Dutch oven or any large and deep cooking pot and some cheesecloth.
  2. Heat duck fat or lard or olive oil in a large Dutch oven.
  3. Stud the onion halves with cloves, then brown them on the dutch oven. Browning them will give a nice colour to the broth.
  4. Wrap the onion, garlic, herbs and whole peppercorns in the cheesecloth, just so you don’t have to fish them out one by one later.
  5. On the same Dutch oven, brown the beef short ribs on all sides, followed by the sausage and the duck confit. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Place the wrapped onion, garlic and herbs and the ham hock in the Dutch oven, pour the entire bottle of wine and add about 6 cups of water. You can always add more later if the broth is too salty. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1.5 hours.
  7. Add beef short ribs, cannellini and garbanzo beans and simmer for 1.5 hours.
  8. Add all the rest of the remaining ingredients (sausages, duck confit, cabbage, carrots, leeks, potatoes and leeks) and simmer for 1 hour.
  9. Before serving, take out the ham hock. Remove the skin, shred the meat and add to the pot.
  10. At any point during the cooking time, adjust water and seasoning as needed.
  11. Serve with crusty bread and mustard on the side. Don’t forget the wine. Bon appétit!
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