Ham & Potato Soup

For as long as I can remember I’ve eaten ham on New Year’s Day. My parents did so before I came along and continued to do so with me. And in case you didn’t know, eating pork on the first day of the New Year is supposed to bring good luck as pigs take their snout and root forward and are full of fattiness which when combined can symbolize progress, wealth & prosperity. There were some years where I wasn’t keen on the ham and other years when I look forward to it. The type of ham wasn’t the fancy spiral ones that come in a shiny red wrapper along with a brown sugar glaze, but, a canned ham that I find confusing in the sense that you can slice and eat cold, but, if you are going to “cook” it, it needs to cook in the oven for over an hour and come to an internal temperature of 140 F. My parents would always line the top of the ham with cloves, stick pineapple rings along the sides and on top and then drizzle it with light brown sugar. It’s the exact same way that I make it now. Inevitably though I always have leftovers and way too much of them. This year I decided to turn some of those leftovers into a delicious Ham & Potato Soup.

The soup starts with a mirepoix cooked in butter. And then the potatoes and ham are added and next minced garlic. To help thicken the soup flour is then stirred in and cooked for a few minutes before adding chicken stock and finally milk.

This soup is delicious… One of the best homemade soups I have made.

Ham & Potato Soup

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1/2 cup diced celery

3 cups peeled and diced potatoes*

2 cups cooked ham, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup flour

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

3 cups whole milk

Salt and fresh cracked pepper, if needed

*I like to leave my potatoes on the larger side when cutting so they don’t break up too much while cooking

Directions:

In a large pot heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until beginning to soften (4 – 5 minutes)

Add the ham and potatoes, cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Mix in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in the stock, mixing all the ingredients together. Increase the heat and cover the pot and bring the contents to a boil. Boil for 10-12 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the milk. Stir until the mixture begins to thicken.

Taste, if needed, season with salt and pepper.

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

You ever have something so delicious at someone else’s house that you can’t wait to make it yourself? That’s what happened to me this week. Over the weekend I had Chicken Spaghetti casserole at a friend’s house and instantly knew I had to make it myself. So, when I had some leftover chicken from dinner the other night I knew exactly what I would be using it for.

First up I got all of my ingredients prepped and together: 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup of diced green and red bell peppers, two cooked chicken thighs shredded, half an onion diced, a can of cream of mushroom soup and spaghetti (I used only half of this one pound box). I should note that my measurements versus the original recipe are different since I opted to halve my version.

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After cooking the spaghetti – I broke it into thirds prior to adding it to the boiling water- I mixed it with all of the ingredients minus 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Prior to draining the spaghetti I reserved about 2 cups of the water from which I added about a cup to the mixture so it wouldn’t be too dry.

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I then poured the mixture into a greased 8 x 8 baking dish and topped it with the remaining shredded cheese

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And finally after baking it for 30 minutes in a 350F pre-heated oven it was ready and just as delicious as the first time I had it!

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The original recipe…

Chicken Spaghetti

Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond

Total Time: 1 hr. 40 min

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 1 hr. 20 min

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

1 whole raw chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces

2 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar

1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper

1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Two 10 3/4-ounce cans cream of mushroom soup

1 medium onion, finely diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the chicken pieces to the boiling water and boil for a few minutes, and then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer, 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and 2 cups of the chicken cooking broth from the pot. When the chicken is cool, remove the skin and pick out the meat (a mix of dark and white) to make 2 generous cups. Discard the bones and skin.

Cook the spaghetti in the chicken cooking broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When the spaghetti is cooked, combine with the chicken, 1 1/2 cups of the cheese, the green peppers, red peppers, seasoned salt, cayenne, soup and onions, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the reserved chicken cooking broth, adding an additional cup if needed.

Place the mixture in a 9- by 13-inch casserole pan and top with the remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake immediately until bubbly, about 45 minutes. (If the cheese on top starts to get too dark, cover with foil.)