Happy Easter everyone! I hope you all got to spend the day with loved ones! Bradley and I took the day to recover, relax, and catch up on some much needed housework. We may have watched a little baseball too :)
So since we are post-Easter and many of you probably have left over ham that is sitting in your fridge I thought I would do the first of my recipe blogs and utilize that left over ham. Mondays seem like a good day for new inspiring recipes. This is one of my favorites! It's been rainy and dreary here in Kentucky and this recipe is perfect for cold, dark days. Plus it uses up left overs and may help you clean out your fridge.
We raise our own pork so making recipes like this is extra special for me because I know where the pork and bacon in it came from. Plus it is easy, delicious, filling and freezes well for easy, on the go meals later.
BCR Hearty Ham & Vegetable Soup; Ingredients
4 pounds meaty ham bone (or whatever you've got left over)
4 cups onion, large dice
4 cups celery, large dice
4 cups carrot, large dice
4 sprigs fresh parsley with stems
2 bay leaves
2 ½ quarts water
4 whole pepper corns
Ham stock from above, about 1½ – 2 quarts
1 quart vegetable stock
8 slices bacon, diced
1 ½ cups leeks, white only, cleaned of sand and diced
1 cup celery, small dice, about two large stalks
2½ cups carrots, one inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dry thyme
3 bay leaves
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
8 ounces Parmesan cheese rinds, optional (we save them in the freezer for soups)
1 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced into bite sized pieces
1 head Tuscan kale, cleaned from ribs and cut up
2 cups frozen kernel corn
1 15.5-ounce can small white beans, drained and rinsed
1½ pounds leftover ham from bone diced (or purchase a deli ham steak and dice)
1 cup light cream
Start by making the ham stock. Add all stock ingredients to a large stock pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for two hours. Strain stock and pick meat from bone. Put the veggies for discard in your compost pile, or in our case we feed the cooked veggies to the chicken. It's easy to make the stock in advance and freeze it until you're ready to use. Be sure to cool it first then freeze in zip lock gallon bags or tupperware containers.
Mix ham stock with vegetable stock and heat over medium. Be sure and taste your stock! Bradley has drilled this into me and I'm a firm believer of tasting as you go! Adjust your seasoning to your taste. Be sure and only add salt if needed. We want our food to taste good but we still want to be weary of our health.
In a large cast iron skillet cook bacon on medium heat for 7-8 minutes until just short of crispy. If it goes to crispy it can leave a mildly burnt flavor to your soup.
Add leeks, celery and carrots to the skillet and cook for five minutes. Add oil to prevent sticking only if there's not enough bacon grease
Add garlic to the skillet and cook for one minute.
Add everything from your skillet to your heated stock. In addition throw in thyme, bay leaves, tomato and optional Parmesan rinds. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are just short of tender.
Add potatoes and kale and bring back to a boil then simmer until tender, about five minutes.
Add corn, beans and diced ham and simmer five minutes.
Stir in cream and remove from heat.
Pick out bay leaves and Parmesan rinds and discard (another yummy treat for the chickens). Serve immediately.
I like to top it with grated parmesan cheese for an extra treat.