I recently had some friends over for dinner and the pile of black forest ham that remained in my fridge after everyone had left was substantial. There was no way I was going to eat it all and I wouldn’t have any help from B as he was away on tour, so I decided to make a soup.
My first thought was that I didn’t want to make split pea and ham, which is where my mind went first when I thought about ham in soup. I wanted a vegetable soup of some kind and I had tons of vegetables in my fridge that were becoming green bin bound so I decided to throw it all in a pot and see what would happen.
This is a big deal for me, as those who know me, know that I like recipes..measurements..structure…ORDER DAMMIT! I need ORDER!!!
For a prime example of this, go and read my Kitchen Sink Soup blog entry. No recipe, all gut feeling…my first time making up a soup with B and my head almost exploded! *wink*
Since then, I have come a long way and I have learned that soup is one of the easiest, most malleable things to cook. If you’re baking and missing an ingredient, often it calls for a panicked trip to the store, but making soup…if you’re out of one thing, throw in something else! Taste, sniff, invent, get creative…soup is awesome!
So, this soup doesn’t necessarily have an exact recipe. I took pictures of ingredients as I went along to help remind myself what I had added and I kept tasting the stock until it was just right. It’s all a pinch of this, a dash of that…I’ll try to give you an idea how much of each thing I used, but it was really all about the taste and my preferences.
I’ll include most of the pictures I took in this post but I have to warn you, some of them are crap shots! As I grabbed stuff, I’d remember to snap a picture at the last minute so some are a tad blurry.
And, yes, I use a lot of NO NAME brand stuff! 😛
So, first off, I put a pot of water on the stove. I ended up switching to a larger pot than the one in the next picture…I think I used 8+ cups of water….actually, thinking about it now, there was probably more than that….but again, I didn’t measure.
I added a chicken bouillon cube and left the water to boil.
In hindsight, a vegetable bouillon cube might have made more sense…ah well.
Proper stock would have made the most sense…but I didn’t have any and the ham was boneless so I didn’t have the opportunity to make any.
The start of any good soup! (When you don’t have proper stock made of course!)
I looked in my fridge and found one small white potato and one GINORMOUS sweet potato.
Sidenote: I looked up the word “ginormous” and yep, that’s how it’s spelled. Looks kinda dirty, doesn’t it?
One potato, two potato, three-…nope, just two.
Chopped up both the potatoes into small cubes…well, sort of cubes…and threw those into the pot.
Next up…celery, carrots and an onion.
Additional rogue vegetables
I used the full onion, about half the bag of mini carrots, maybe a little more, and three stalks of celery. Chopped them up and added them to the pot!
While searching for more veg to add…I glanced in the freezer and found frozen corn and peas. Figured, what the hell!, and added a handful of each!
Then it was time for some spices…(added pepper which isn’t pictured)…as well as…
Added a dash of garlic powder
Salt, salt and more salt!
I added pinches of salt throughout the soup creation process. Add to taste.
Three bay leaves
While the vegetables simmered, I prepped the final ingredient! The ham!
To give you an idea how much ham I used…
It was at this point in the process that I remembered I had bacon in the freezer. And of course, bacon goes with ham! Bacon goes with everything! Bacon.is.awesome.
So I pulled out the package, cut off about an inch and added that to the pot as well.
I figured the soup was on its way to being done, so I left it to simmer for 15 minutes or so.
When I returned for another taste test, I found the broth incredibly lacking. It was bland, had very little body, and weak flavour.
I called my friend Andy for advice, and he pointed me to my cookbooks…specifically The Flavour Bible. Yeah, yeah…he seems to know my cooking shelves better than me! I had completely forgotten about that book…which will not happen again. So useful! A book to add to your Christmas list!
I looked through the list of Ham Friendly Ingredients, while keeping Andy on the phone for feedback.
To boost the flavour and improve the broth, I added:
A splash of red wine vinegar
Approx a tablespoon of mustard
A good dash of thyme
The flavour was better…albeit a little tart…but the broth was still thin. So, with prompting from Andy, I added:
Not sure how much got added…perhaps 1/4 cup or so
It worked! It sweetened and thickened the broth!
I continued to taste it between additions….definitely do that to ensure you’re on the right track!
I left it to simmer for awhile…not sure about the time here…maybe 30 minutes or so.
Some of that time I left it uncovered to boil the broth down a bit and help with the thickening.
For dinner that night, I had AN AMAZING bowl of soup!! And I have to admit, I was pretty proud of myself!!
I froze a number of portions and have since reheated bowls and it continues to be delicious!
So, to sum up into some type of readable recipe-ish list….
Ham & Bacon Vegetable Soup
1 white potato
1 sweet potato
3 stalks of celery
half a bag of mini carrots or equivalent
2+cups of ham
1 inch frozen bacon cut from the package (what is that…1/3 cup or so? lol)
handful of frozen corn
handful of frozen peas
1 bouillon cube
dash of garlic powder
salt & pepper
3 bay leaves
dash of dried thyme
splash of red wine vinegar
1 tbsp mustard
1/4 unsweetened applesauce
Again, this is all dependant on what you have available in your kitchen! Get creative, add whatever you want and see what happens!
Who needs a recipe anyway!!! (I cannot believe I just said that!)