Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Cheesy Ham and Potato Chowder

Potatoes are foods many generations have grown up on. van Gogh painted his first masterpiece “The Potato Eaters” in 1885. In this painting, he presented the family of peasants, sitting down and eating their hard-earned meal after a long day out somewhere in the field. The picture is symbolic and the painter here glorifies work and food that man honestly earned. Their faces and their hands were the color of beautiful, dusty potatoes.
As Ireland's main crop, the potato represented the poor farmer's meager livelihood, sustenance and means of paying rent to the landowner way back in time. The Irish peasants were at risk for both starvation and the loss of their homes and farmland. By 1848, a million people -- about an eighth of the Irish population -- had perished. One and a half million emigrated, mostly to the United States.
Cheesy Ham and Potato Chowder
Kale and Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Dates, Toasted Walnuts and Feta Crumbles
Cook's notes: The soup is thick, rich, creamy and ready in less than an hour. Advance prep makes the recipe assembly more efficient. Thanks to Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) for her secret ingredient which elevates the chowder flavor to a new level.  Start small with this seasoning, taste and work up in flavor. See chowder recipe below and it was adapted from Cheesy Ham and Potato Chowder and serves four.

The salad was previously posted but I changed it up a bit with a few new ingredients. Original salad recipe at  http://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2017/03/healthy-friday.html
I substituted a prepacked mix Kale Chopped Salad with Shaved Brussels Sprouts for the package of Shaved Brussels Sprouts, added in Mediterranean Herb Feta Crumbles with red onions, dates, toasted walnuts and drizzled salad with a lite Greek Vinaigrette dressing.

Cheesy Ham and Potato Chowder
  • 1-1/2 TB. olive oil or butter
  • 1 cup each diced sweet onions,  carrots, celery 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp. Cajun Seasoning (and yes it really works in this recipe) 
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme 
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken stock or broth, low sodium
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup low fat half and half
  • 4 cups Yukon potatoes, diced into small cubes 
  • 1 cup ham, diced or 3/4 cup bacon cooked crispy and diced 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Heat oil (or melt butter) in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onions sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic, celery, carrots, thyme and Cajun seasoning. Continue  sautéing for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour until combined, and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring occasionally.
  • Cover and on medium-low heat sweat veggies with seasonings for 8 minutes. Stir occasionally. 
  • Uncover and stir in the chicken stock/broth until it is completely combined. Stir in the milk, potatoes, ham or bacon, bay leaf, salt and pepper until combined. Continue cooking uncovered until the mixture reaches a simmer, but not boiling.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally every few minutes so that the bottom of the soup does not burn. (The smaller you dice your potatoes, the faster they will cook.)
  • Once the potatoes are soft, give the soup a taste and season with extra salt and pepper if needed. Remove bay leaf and use an immersion blender or regular blender and puree about 3/4 of the chowder mixture and return back to the soup pot. 
  • Stir in cheese and cook 5 minutes longer.
  • Garnish with snipped chives or green onion.


  1. Oh, how I love potato soup. That said, I'm not eating potatoes often as part of a weight loss plan. But once in awhile is OK, right?

  2. yes but the chowder is so good a little splurge once in awhile is good for the soul