Monday, February 22, 2010

Potato and Ham Soup

I've discovered something very interesting.  I can use a 10 pound sack of potatoes.  I didn't know that.  I've always bought my produce a week at a time. 

But a while back, I bought a 10 pound sack of potatoes at the produce market and have been happily making potatoes ever since.

They've been living in my garage frig next to the beer.  Wonder what else I can do.
Anyway, I'm on a real soup kick, seeking comfort and pleasure and giving it when I can.  We were sick with the flu a while back.  For a couple days we ate canned soup.  My husband said, "Your soup is always better.  I wish we could have that, but of course you are sick."  And he looks over at me wistfully.  

My mother put soup in quart canning jars and froze them.  I remember being very happy to come home from school and find a frozen canning jar in the sink filled with chili or split pea soup or chicken and noodles or potato soup and knowing that and corn bread with be on the dinner table.  Those were happy nights.  Dad was happy.  We were happy.  Mom wasn't stressed out.  Dad would come along and give her a pat on the bottom when he thought we didn't see.  

As I mentioned I'm on a soup kick.  I've got two packages of ham from a previous ham dinner in my freezer and fresh chives from my greenhouse, so perfect!

Potato and Ham Soup
3 T. butter
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
1 T. flour
2 cups milk
1 t. chicken bouilon granules. 
1 14.5 oz can chicken broth
1 c. 1/2 & 1/2
4 medium russets, baked, skins removed and mashed
2 cups diced ham, 
1 t. salt. 
Fresh chives, chopped

Bake the potatoes until they stick easily with a fork, as you would for a baked potato. Melt butter in a large soup pot and add vegetables, cooking until slightly cooked,  just a few minutes.  Add the flour and stir to make a paste.  Add the milk, bouilon, broth, 1/2 & 1/2.  Stir well. Keep warm but don't boil.  Remove the skins from the potatoes and mash them with a potato masher.  Add them to the soup.  Add the ham and salt.  Now carefully bring the soup to a slow simmer.  Stir regularly to make sure it doesn't stick on the bottom.  Continue cooking on low and stirring until the vegetables are cooked to a desired softness.  5 - 10 minutes.

And now a little bit about baking potatoes.  Baking in the oven produces a very different baked potato than the microwave.  I much prefer oven baked, but it takes more time.  I have oven cooked them the night before, then microwaved the cooked potatoes to heat them.  That works fine. 

If you plan to eat them as bake potatoes, rubbing the skins in shortening then rolling them in good sea salt is gives an awesome texture and feel.  For this, though, naked potato is fine.  Bake at 400 degress until they stick easily.  About an hour.  The skin starts to separate from the meat.  The meat takes on a browned appearance just inside the skin. 

Peel away that papery dry skin to reveal the purpose of all this and go for it.  Mash away.

Remember to smile.

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