Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chunky Potato and Ham Chowder

Chunky Potato and Ham Chowder
From the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate, by Mari

This is a very forgiving soup in that you can adjust the quantity according to your needs. (Count on one to one and a half medium/large size potatoes per serving.) I always make extra as it reheats very well and seems to improve a day or two after you make it.  Note: It will thicken upon refrigeration, so you'll need to add more chicken stock, water or milk/cream as it reheats.

2-3 strips bacon (or more, if desired), sliced crosswise into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces
chopped yellow (brown) onion
Russet Potatoes (starchy, baking potatoes), peeled & cut into chunks (smaller chunks will cook faster)
chicken stock/broth
bay leaf
milk or cream
diced smoked ham
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Any of the following garnishes:
The reserved bacon
Grated cheese
Sliced scallions or fresh chives
Tabasco® hot sauce
a pat of butter


-In a large pot or stock pot, slowly cook bacon pieces. Don't over cook bacon; for maximum flavor cook until just partially crisp, remove from pot and set aside for garnish. 
-Drain all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pot, add scant 1 tablespoon olive oil to pot, heat over medium flame. 
-Add chopped onions to heated oil/fat, stir occasionally until onions are translucent but not brown. 
-Add bay leaf and peeled, potato chunks to pan, add enough chicken stock to cover potatoes by about 1 inch. 
-Cover pot with lid. Increase heat to medium high, bring chicken stock/broth to  brisk boil, give potatoes a stir, reduce heat to medium.
-Place lid askew (partially cover pot) and cook potatoes until tender.  When potatoes are tender -- remove pot from heat, remove bay leaf from pot and discard.
-With a potato masher roughly crush potatoes with stock until as chunky or as smooth as you like; stir in additional chicken stock and cream to achieve desired soup consistency).  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. (Potatoes can take quite a bit of salt, so depending upon how salty your broth/stock, or ham is, you'll need to adjust accordingly.)

-Return pot to heat, warm, stirring occasionally until hot, ladle into soup bowls or mugs and garnish as desired.  Enjoy! 

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