Common kitchen staples can be used to create a creamy ham and potato soup that is simple yet tasty enough to satisfy everyone.
The ingredient list is very basic: a mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) plus a potato and some ham. Add this to a light blonde roux with some chicken stock and dairy, accompanied by the barest of seasonings, and it thickens into a hearty soup perfect for colder days. The varieties of ham and potato can be changed but the ham steak lends itself to an easy uniform dice, and the starchy russet softens and contributes to the texture.
Ham steak is not a steak at all but simply a thicker cut of pork from the rear leg of the animal. Most ham is cured with salt and often lightly smoked, making it a versatile cut of meat for many quick preparations. It is with this ingredient that the cook can find the most customization and variation, upgrading it for substitutions of prosciutto, pancetta, salami or any number of hard-cured products.
This soup also provides a good platform for amateur cooks to practice their food presentation skills. The included protein and vegetables work best if cut to similar shapes and size, allowing a homogeneous blend of elements for the eye and the spoon. Likewise, browning of these ingredients is not required else it darken the color palette too much for this creamy dish.
The bread bowl is, of course, not necessary for serving but a fresh bakery boule is easily transformed for presentation. For the bread removed to form the hollow, coarsely chop it then toast with powdered garlic, rosemary or Parmesan for an elegant topping.
Ham and Potato Soup
8 oz ham steak
1 russet potato
1 stalk of celery
½ yellow onion
4 c chicken stock
1 c milk
4 T butter
4 T flour
¼ t thyme
1 Chop the ham, potato, carrot, celery and onion into uniform cubes.
2 Melt the butter over low heat and stir in the flour. Add the chopped vegetables and ham and stir to coat. Work in the thyme and other seasonings.
3 Add the stock and bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 min.
4 Stir in the dairy and bring back to just a simmer.