One of my absolute favorite winter meals has always been our potato soup. It would show up as the glorious product of leftovers and make us all salivate at the thought of it. We may have made it more often than just at the holidays, but that's when I remember it most. Granted we would traditionally have it after Christmas, but I was craving it this week so you're going to hear about it now instead.
One of my dad's friends would show up at our door each Christmastime with a giant, delicious ham in tow. That was Ernie's gift to us every year, and every year we knew it heralded Great Things To Come - namely this soup. And eating it with Christmas brunch, of course, but for me the subsequent soup was the main event.
My mom was never a big ham fan so we didn't often buy it for ourselves any other time of the year. Probably that's what made this soup so special in my mind - it had HAM! (Ponyo reference, anyone?) Not to mention we typically served this with fresh garlic bread (the warm, soft, dripping-with-butter-and-garlic kind), which could win me over to just about any meal.
I believe the original recipe called for only bacon or only ham, though I can't remember which at the moment. All I know is that now we make it with both. I think that came from a time when we had a bit of each on hand and figured they're both from the same root so surely we can add those together so we have enough meat to still make this soup tonight. And then realized we had stumbled into exactly how we should have made it all along. It's a one-pot meal, so you fry the bacon up in the same pot and that salty bacon goodness underlies the whole dish.
Do you have a favorite go-to meal for holiday leftovers? Let's talk about it in the comments!
cutlass potato soup
yield: ~8 servings
5 bacon slices, chopped into small pieces
1 - 1½ cups cubed ham
2 TB butter
3 med-large boiling potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 cup stock (vegetable or chicken)
2 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper
2 cups milk
2 TB cornstarch, dissolved in ½ cup cold water
Heat a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium-high heat. Fry the bacon pieces until crisp, then drain onto a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Pour off the drippings and discard when cooled.
In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the vegetables, potatoes, and garlic and cook until slightly softened, stirring occasionally for approximately 15 minutes.
Add cooked bacon, ham, water, stock,salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until vegetables and potatoes are tender.
Add the milk and heat through, stirring frequently.
Dissolve the cornstarch in ½ cup cold water and pour it into the soup, stirring constantly. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the soup thickens.
Serve immediately or allow to rest on low for another hour to let the flavors permeate.
Lila - very placid and pleased with the bacon crumbs she retrieved from the floor.