In a large saucepan over a medium-high heat melt the cooking fat. Sautee the onions and garlic in the cooking fat for 5 to 7 minutes, just until the onions are translucent and tender.
Add the cabbage, bell pepper, carrots and ham and toss with the onions and garlic. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, frequently stirring to prevent anything from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Pour in the stock with the bay leaves. Allow the soup to come to a simmer and cook partially covered for 35 to 45 minutes. Season to taste with freshly cracked black pepper, but taste the liquid before adding any salt, as the ham will most likely give off enough saltiness on its own.
Remove the bay leaves and serve.