Potato Soup & North Carolina
A few weeks before Christmas I purchased a spiral cut ham for our family dinner then promptly threw it in the deep freeze where it rested for the past month, completely forgotten. A few weeks ago, I dug it out and planned on roasting it for a little get together we were having with friends. The Husband walked through the kitchen as I was preparing it to go in the oven, snatched the bowl and took it outside.
Thankfully, The Husband wasn’t planning on chowing down on the entire ham, but had decided that he wanted to smoke it instead of letting me roast it. It turned out to be some of the best spiral cut ham I’ve ever had. The smoke flavor, combined with the traditional brown sugar and clove rub was out of this world.
Enough about the ham I’m not going to tell you about though… on to good stuff. Memories, and how your taste buds elicit happiness.
While we were stationed in North Carolina, I had a friend named Rhonda who made the most fabulous potato soup I’d ever eaten. I asked her repeatedly for the recipe but she wouldn’t relent. Finally when I moved she told me her “secret.” The secret? Ham stock.
I don’t eat things with bones. I have no idea why… it’s just a little too much for me. Thanks to Natashya, I’ve recently started saving the bones from all of my large cuts of meat to make stocks. Never one to be on the “homemade stock” bandwagon, I rolled my eyes when I’d hear people lament about how much better it was. I’ve stopped rolling my eyes now! I promise to pledge my everlasting love for homemade stocks. (Okay, I’m being dramatic here… not a common occurrence for me… really.)
The whole story about The Husband smoking the ham… I’m just ADD today. Obviously. I don’t recommend having conversations with me… I don’t make sense. I saved the bones from the ham… and this is my interpretation of my friend Rhonda’s most delicious potato soup! One bite and I’m instantly transported back to Rhonda’s house, shots of espresso flavored vodka and a little dog wearing a tutu (yes, her dog wore a tutu and loved it!).
A Cat Concoction
1 Ham bone
1 onion, unpeeled, cut in half
1 head garlic, cut in half4 old nasty carrots that you forgot were in the crisper drawer
2 stalks celery… that you forgot about as well
3 T black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1/2 c diced cooked ham
5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
Salt & Pepper
1/4 c heavy cream
Sour cream (low-fat is great!)
Shredded sharp cheddar
For the stock:
Place all stock ingredients in a large stock pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat (about 10 minutes). Knock heat down to low and simmer for about 2 hours until the water has turned a nice brown color. Strain with a colander set over a large bowl.
Place the strained stock in the same pot (wipe it out!) or another large pot, add potatoes and ham. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Knock heat down to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are tender, add cream and stir to combine.
Serve with a small dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar and sliced scallions. Now- go make it and take yourself to North Carolina with me!
**Natashya suggested a few weeks ago to throw all of your stock ingredients in the crock pot in the morning, let ‘er rip during the day and strain. No herbs, seasonings, etc. necessary. I will always make my stock this way from this day forward (unless really crunched for time). I never believed the hype about homemade stock until I actually tried it. Fab.U.Lous.