At present, I find myself in one of my less preferred seasons of pregnancy: the period in which it would be perfectly normal for me to have my baby today or tomorrow or even several weeks from now. Like any woman (or human), I rather like being in control, and while the fact that I have so little of it regarding the timing of #2’s birth is not surprising, it’s also not my favorite.
We’ve done what we can to prepare for Levi or Lincoln or whatever his name might wind up being (we’ve joked about making it Levi-Lincoln, hyphen and all), and now we wait. It’s a good thing, really, that we haven’t much left to do as I wouldn’t have any energy for it anyway. Take this morning, for example. Eowyn and I watched Cars, I read her stories and then intermittently observed her playing with her new Christmas toys in between my snoozing on the couch. I really pulled out the big guns when I spent a whole 8 minutes making mac and cheese from a box at lunchtime.
Admittedly, I may not be winning any mom of the year awards right now, but I’m also not losing my mind (well, most days anyway). I know my limits, and necessity has required me to learn to live within them. The days that I forget my own weakness and start behaving as if I can do it all are usually the days that end with no dinner on the table and leave the whole family exasperated.
Given my present constraints, this simple Ham and Potato Soup is an easy way to provide a hearty, winter meal for those I love. It doesn’t take much time at all, it’s easy on the budget, and the rich creaminess ensures everyone leaves the table satisfied. The recipe starts in the same manner as most of my vegetable soups, with a sauté of onions and garlic. Add in the potatoes, stock, seasonings, and some protein, and it’s done. Bacon is a common addition to potato soups (see my Tips and Tidbits below if you’d like to substitute it in), but I love the subtle sweetness that chopped ham brings to this dish.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced white or yellow onion
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
- 8 cups cubed potatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups cooked cubed ham
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup sour cream
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Toss in the garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes more, until the onions are tender and becoming golden in color.
- Next, add in the chicken stock, potatoes, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork.
- Stir in the chopped ham, salt, and pepper, and cook until the ham is heated through.
- Move the pot off the heat, stir in the sour cream, and season with additional salt and pepper according to your taste. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
Tips and Tidbits
- I don’t specify the type of potatoes to use in this recipe as I’ve found that many varieties are acceptable. If using potatoes with a thicker skin, such as russet potatoes, I usually peel them to ensure that my final product is velvety smooth. However, with thin-skinned potatoes, including reds and Yukon golds, I typically leave the peel on since it’s soft enough to be incorporated into the soup without detracting from the texture.
- If you aren’t in the mood for ham, bacon makes a great substitute. For maximum flavor, I’d recommend chopping about 8 ounces of bacon and heating it in a large pot over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, cooking until the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot (but reserve the oil) and set aside. Then sauté the onions in the bacon grease and olive oil and proceed with the recipe as written, adding the bacon in at the very end.
- I love the richness of the sour cream, but you can easily make this dish lighter by using plain Greek yogurt instead.