Friday, January 25, 2013

Soup Season

This time of year, I adore soup. It's soul-warming, cozy, and makes the house smell great. Also, it gives me a  chance to use my Le Creuset dutch oven. (Best birthday present ever. Does my husband know me or what?)

I wasn't home for most of the day, but wanted a soup that tasted like I was. For that, I turned to an old favorite of ours:  Ham and Potato Soup. This is not the chunky, cheesy Loaded Baked Potato Chowder that is so popular these days. It's the lighter, cleaner, less fussy cousin. I love this soup. It reminds me of my the smell of Grandma's kitchen when I was young. She was a German farm wife and always had potatoes and onions cooking. It's one of my favorite smells. Along with fresh baked bread, chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven, hot coffee... I digress.

Back to this soup. This soup! The broth is not watery, but it's much thinner than those heavy chowders. Instead, it's silky, smooth, and unctuous, with tender little bites of ham, carrot, and celery. Pure comfort food. Just like Grandma used to make. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Ham and Potato Soup

1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 T olive oil
4 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 to 2 cups ham, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
5 T butter
5 T flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, sweat onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil over medium heat. Add potatoes, ham, and broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

In a separate pan (a small saucepan will do), combine butter and flour over medium heat, whisking until combined. Add milk slowly, cooking over medium heat until thick. If you do this all very slowly and consistently, you won't get any lumps.

Add milk mixture to your bubbling pot of soup, and stir everything around until combined. Using a potato masher, mash the soup around until it reaches your desired texture. I like to smash about half the potatoes, so I still have some nice potato chunks in the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

(As with most soups, this is even better the next day.)

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