Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Time for Fall

While the calendar may say it's Fall now, it sure doesn't feel like it out here in good old West Texas.  It is in the upper '80s here, and we are still wearing shorts.  But I know some of you are enjoying cooler fall weather, so I thought I better give you a soup recipe.  Well, actually a chowder recipe.  

A week and a half ago, it rained for an entire week.  The temperature was cool enough in the mornings to actually wear jeans.  We even had a couple of nights where we had to put hoodies on!  Perfect time for soup.  My son adores soups.  He asks for Loaded Baked Potato Soup at least once a week during the winter.  But this time I gave him a Potato & Ham Chowder.  Don't let the name fool you.  It's much more than just potatoes and ham.  It is rich and hearty and sure to warm your bellies!  And it's darn tasty!

3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 stick celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb ham, cubed (I just bought a ham steak and cut it up)
1 leek, chopped
1 quart half & half
1 stick butter
1 C frozen corn kernels
1 C frozen peas
1 C shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 C flour
1 C chicken stock
3 cloves garlic, minced

NOTE:  If you've never cooked with leeks before, you need to know a few things.  Leeks are in the onion family.  First cut off the stem end and the dark green parts and discard.  Next slice them in half lengthwise and then cut into half moons. Place the slices in a bowl of water and let them soak for about 5 minutes.  They are grown in sandy soil, and the sand will sink to the bottom of the bowl of water.  Pull out the leeks by hand and drain well on paper towels.

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender.  Drain.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Brown the ham in the butter and then remove them from the pot and set aside.  Add the leeks, celery, and carrots to the pot and cook until tender.  Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir.  Add in the chicken stock and whisk.  Add in the cooked potatoes, ham, and remaining ingredients except the cheese.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat slightly. Cook until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese until melted and serve.

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