Ham, Cheese & Potato Soup
Appetizer or Main
As some of you may know, I lost my mom earlier this year. A few days after Christmas, she had a heart attack. I flew up to take care of her and made a pot of soup with her left-over Christmas Honey Baked Ham. Using Yukon Gold potatoes with lots of Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese it made for a comforting, make you feel better, pot of soup. We had a big, steaming bowl for my belated birthday. (Editor’s Note: Amy had no dietary restrictions).
I made this again recently at home, hoping that it really was as delicious as I remembered. I would have hated for my mom’s last meal to be something not delectable.
This recipe comes together quickly and is great for using up whatever left over ham, bacon or veggies you have in your refrigerator. There are a couple of versions of this recipe online which add either corn or peas to the soup. I added fennel to my pot and used a cooked ham steak as the smallest ham Honey Baked sells is 7 pounds. Tom and I couldn’t eat 7 pounds of ham in an entire year! If you don’t have any ham, crispy bacon or pancetta would be great too.
This soup is thick and almost chowder like. Oyster crackers (remember those?) sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese make a perfect a topping.
2 c. Yukon potatoes, cubed with skins on (about 6 medium potatoes)
1 c. carrots, peeled and sliced (3-4 carrots)
1/2 medium yellow or brown onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium size fennel, top removed, cord and diced
3 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 T. Herbes de Provence
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. 2% milk
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
8 oz. Extra-Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 lb. cooked ham steak, cubed (or 2 1 1/2 oz. c. cooked bacon, pancetta or left over ham)
In a Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the vegetables, chicken broth and Herbs de Provence. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and let simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Slowly pour in the milk, salt and pepper, whisking to combine. Bring to a boil and continue whisking until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir the mixture into the vegetables and broth. Stir in the cheese until melted. Add the ham and let simmer until heated through.
Season to taste with kosher salt and coarse, ground black pepper.