Ham and Potato Soup

eastersoup

For all of you who celebrate Easter with a massive ham and therefore, invariably have leftovers – here’s a recipe for you! This soup is flavorful, and stuffed full of ham. No guilt about wasting leftovers! On a related note, save or steal the ham bone! We’ll use that too. It’s not necessary to the recipe, but man does it make it better! The depth of flavor you get out of that ham bone is amazing.

I also got to wondering… how did ham become a traditional Easter food? The Jews-turned-Christians of ancient times certainly weren’t serving up pork on their dinner tables. Seems counter-intuitive that the descendants of religious Jews would go for one of the most forbidden foods in Judaism. As best I can tell, Easter ham is a relatively recent, American Christian tradition. Why? Apparently, back in the days before refrigeration, pigs were traditionally slaughtered in the fall and stored salted through the winter. This ham was edible around Easter-time, when other spring-slaughtered animals weren’t ready. Pretty practical and boring as traditions go…

Now if you’re observant or actually reading this the day I published it, you’ll notice that Easter isn’t exactly over yet. That’s because we were unable to go home for Easter with my family as usual and instead staffed the hospital. But we did buy a massive ham this week. It was only $1/lb! That’s basically free 💸💸 And let me tell you, if our think you have leftovers, try eating a whole ham between two people! So far we’ve had two friends over for ham & swiss sandwiches, repeated those sandwiches another night, had eggs and ham for breakfast, made this soup, frozen ~1/3 of it, and still have a good other 1/3 or so in the fridge! We’ll be eating ham until Memorial Day! With this soup, I was going for creamy, but a little different than the usual heavy-cream-filled potato soup. I think it worked! 💁

eastersoup2

Ham & Potato Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 2 qt vegetable stock
  • Ham bone (if you have access to one)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 10oz leftover ham, chopped
  • 3 large yellow potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. If you have a ham bone, place it it a larger pot and cover with the 2 quarts of vegetable stock. Add the two bay leaves and a few sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a simmer and then turn heat down to low. [If you don’t have a ham bone, skip this step and just add the stock later as instructed.]
  2. Leave on the stove for an hour or as long as you have time for! The longer you leave it, the more flavor you’ll get out of the bone. If you have plenty of time and are getting tons of flavor out of your bone, you can top off with some water to keep it going.
  3. Allow the stock to cool. Skim off any fat and debris. You can also strain through cheesecloth if you like.
  4. In a large stockpot, heat your oil. Once hot, add shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes.
  5. Once they have started browning and are fragrant, add the ham, potatoes, stock, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.
  6. Raise heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Then turn down to medium-low heat. Cook at this temperature for ~30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
  7. Remove roughly half of the potatoes to the side. Using an immersion blender (or pour into a food processor), blend together those potatoes and the milk.
  8. Return the milk/potatoes to the soup pot. Stir in to combine well. Leave at medium-low heat for another 10+ minutes.
  9. Serve with whatever toppings you’d like! (Cheese, chives, bacon, hot sauce, whatever!)

Basic Mixed Poultry Stock

We have a very specific Thanksgiving tradition… We like to steal the turkey bones. All of the bones. We gather them all up like little squirrels to take home. Sounds a little weird, but it’s the best freebie leftover you can grab! Hide those bones away in your refrigerator until you’re ready, and then you can create some stock that puts the ones you buy at the store to shame.

This is mixed poultry stock, not pure turkey stock as we’ve done in the past, because we had the bones of several smoked chicken quarters too. The same principles apply whether you have a whole turkey carcass, a bunch of chicken bones, or a combination of both.

In even better news, making homemade stock is one of the easiest things ever! It sounds a little bit daunting, but it really isn’t. Time consuming? Sort of… It’s a long process, but it’s mostly hands-off.

What You’ll Need

  • A large, deep pot
  • A large bowl
  • Bones
  • Water
  • Colander
  • Large piece of cheesecloth

How You Do It

  1. Place your bones in a large, deep pot.
  2. Cover with water.
  3. Bring to a boil, but then immediately reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 6-8 hours.
  4. Cool, overnight if necessary. Skim fat and debris off the top.
  5. Return to the stove, over low heat. Once warmed through, remove the bones.
  6. Double-fold cheesecloth and place in a standard colander.
  7. Pour liquid from the pot, through the cheesecloth, into the large bowl. Do this slowly! (Two person job!!)
  8. Shake out the majority of the debris caught in the cheesecloth and return to the colander. Pour the liquid from the bowl, again through the cheesecloth, back into the pot.
  9. Repeat steps 7 & 8 indefinitely, until you feel like the liquid has completely cleared.
  10. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a light simmer.
  11. Simmer, tasting intermittently, until the flavor has concentrated to your liking.

Note – many people add fragrant, flavorful herbs and vegetables (onions, celery, etc) to the pot for the initial simmering. This will still create a lovely stock, but we really enjoy the flavor of the pure, bones only, stock.