Chris' Recipes

Bon Appetite!

Creamy Potato and Ham Soup

Written By: Chris - May• 06•14

We were recently in a stretch of chilly weather with rain in the daily forecast for as far as we could see.  We try not to be whiners, but following that long winter, it was a bit much.  When you live in a climate that doesn’t see the sun for days and days, it is really hard to understand just how excited we get even if it peeks out for a few hours!  People literally start posting pictures on Facebook and our moods change significantly when the sun shines.

During the cold times, soup just makes us feel better.  I was doing some reading and it turns out the healing properties of soup go beyond the psychological comforts.  A team of scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center actually studied chicken soup, and they found it contains anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe sore throats and also slow the release of mucus.  I know, it sounds gross, but it appears that mom was right!  Soup really is good for colds.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be chicken soup to have a healing effect as many kinds of vegetables are often used in soups and have healing properties, too!

For example, carrots are a good source of Vitamin A, which is good for the health of your eyes and skin and celery is a good source of antioxidants and may help reduce inflammation.  Some studies indicate garlic may help disrupt the metabolism of cancerous tumor cells and tomatoes also are a good source of Vitamins A and C.  Cooked tomatoes actually provide more antioxidants than raw tomatoes.  Vegetables help reduce the risk of disease by promoting healthy body cells and the key is to simmer the vegetables in soup slowly because it releases the vitamins and minerals into the soup. If you boil the soup actually leaches out the vitamins and minerals by half or more.

Overall, soup cheers us up when it’s gray outside and chilly!  I recently put together this recipe from ingredients that I had on hand in my fridge, freezer and pantry.  I was hungry for potato and ham, but use what you have available when you’re assembling soup for your family!

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Ingredients:

8 Cups Potatoes, (12 medium, half peeled) chopped
4 Cups Celery, chopped
2 Large Sweet Onions, (nearly 6 Cups) chopped
4 Cups Carrots, chopped
1 Jalapeno Pepper, chopped
2 Large Red Bell Peppers, chopped
1 stick Butter
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 lbs. Ham, chopped 
8 Cups Chicken Stock, homemade (mine is unsalted)
1 quart Almond Breeze, unsweetened almond coconut milk blend
1/3 Cup Chicken Base – to taste – start with less, add more as you don’t want it too salty!
2 Cups Smoked Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Heavy Cream

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Start by peeling and chopping the onions and washing and chopping the celery.

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Place half of the butter into your stock pot over medium heat.  Season the onions and celery with salt & pepper and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally until they become translucent and begin to brown.

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Chop the carrots and them along with the celery to the onions.  Add the oil and cook for five to ten minutes over medium high heat while stirring occasionally to cook them down.

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While the vegetables are cooking, wash, peel half (or all depending on your taste) and chop the potatoes.  Add them to the vegetables.

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Add the chicken stock, stir and allow to cook while you continue to chop ingredients.

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Wash and de-seed the peppers.  Mince the jalapeno and chop the red pepper. Add them to the vegetables and stock.

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Chop the fully cooked ham into cubes and add them to the soup.  Allow to cook for about five minutes or so before adding the milk and seasoning.

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Reserve about two cups and then add the rest of the almond milk to the soup and taste.  Add a little chicken flavoring to some of the reserved almond milk and adjust accordingly.

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Combine the corn starch with some of the reserved almond milk and whisk until dissolved.  Combine, while stirring constantly into soup.  Increase the heat and bring to a simmer and stir frequently as the soup thickens.

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Once it has thickened somewhat, reduce heat to low simmer and stir in the shredded cheese.  Continue to cook until the potatoes are tender.  Stir in cream just before serving.

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The vegetables will be tender, but still hold texture.  Serve immediately.  Garnish with fresh ground black pepper and additional sprinkle of cheddar cheese if you like.

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We paired this with a 2001 Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon.  Wonderful!

Enjoy!

Cheers!
~Chris

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