We really like ham around our house. Unfortunately, with only two full-time occupants, buying even a small ham can result in a lot leftover. I bought this natural-looking (read: not round) chunk of ham specifically to fry up and serve with cream biscuits on Christmas morning. Naturally that left us with a fairly sizable piece left and, while I’m not opposed to continuing to slice-and-fry, I was hoping for something a bit more imaginative.
With two bags of russet potatoes intended for latkes that never got made (because I am too lazy, apparently) and four leeks languishing in the fridge, I thought a thick, creamy soup would be perfectly appropriate for a cold winter night.
This soup recipe is incredibly easy, and it comes together in just about a half hour, with most of that time being inactive prep. My one tip would be to go extra-easy on the salt, since ham tends to be fairly salty and it can overpower the delicate flavors of leek and potato if you’re not careful.
ham, potato, and leek soup (3-6 servings)
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 4 leeks
- 2 russet potatoes
- 1 qt. low-sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 lb. ham, diced
- 1/4 – 1/2 c. cream, optional
- Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Slice the roots and dark green tops off leeks. Slice lengthwise, then cross-wise, giving you half-moon pieces about 1/2″ thick. Place leeks in a bowl, then run cold water over them until they are floating. Swish them around with your fingertips, separating the leek pieces so that the water can wash away any bits of dirt or sand.
- When the butter has melted, lift leeks out of the bowl with a spider, give it a quick shake to get rid of most of the water, and add leeks to the soup pot. Cook about 5 minutes or so, until getting soft.
- Rinse the potatoes and peel, if desired. Chop into roughly 1/2″ pieces and add to the pot, along with the chicken broth.
- Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium-high and simmer 15-25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
- Turn off the heat. With a hand blender, blend until the soup is perfectly smooth, or still has some lumps of potato – to your preferred texture. Add ham and as much cream as you like. Heat through.
So I was watching today’s Food Network marathon of last season’s Worst Cooks in America, which I had wanted to watch, but never managed to catch. In one of the episodes, the contestants have to cook a variety of appetizers, one of which was a cheesy biscuit with a little bit of country ham and jalapeno jelly. As it so happens, I made a big batch of jalapeno jelly several months ago, and hadn’t found a time to use it yet. We also didn’t have any cheese in the house, but that was easily remedied.
This dish was every bit as delicious as I was hoping it would be, and I don’t have much else to say about it. Certainly, you could customize this any way you want, by seasoning the biscuits in various ways with various cheeses, or by using turkey or flank steak instead of canadian bacon, or by gathering a collection of mustards or other condiments rather than the jalapeno jelly. Quick weeknight meal, any way you do it.
Cheddar-Ham Biscuits with Jalapeno-Cranberry Jelly (serves 2; recipe for jelly here)
- 1 3/4 c. flour
- pinch salt
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1/3 c. butter or shortening
- 1 c. sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 6 oz. canadian bacon (cut in half, if oval pieces)
- Preheat oven to 450.
- In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Pulse several times to combine. Place butter or shortening into the processor, and pulse a few more times, until thoroughly combined. You could also do this in a bowl, cutting in the butter/shortening with a pastry blender.
- Turn out into a bowl, and add cheese and buttermilk. Mix until just blended. Place by heaping tablespoons (about 12) on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
- Melt the butter in a small bowl with garlic powder, and brush onto dough. Bake about 10 minutes, or until cooked.
- Heat canadian bacon for several minutes on both sides in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, or until some of the fat has rendered out and ham is slightly browned. Serve with biscuits and jelly.
Split Pea Soup
Variations: a) use all water and boil a ham bone along with the soup; b) use all vegetable stock and make it vegan; c) use all chicken stock and forget the ham, but ham and peas do make such a delicious combination.
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 c. split peas
- 2 c. ham stock (water in which ham has been boiled)
- 2 c. water
- 2 c. chicken broth
- Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and garlic, and saute several minutes, or until beginning to soften.
- Add split peas and stir for a moment to coat in oil and toast slightly. Add ham stock, water, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours, or until peas are soft and flavors have mingled.