Potato, Escarole & Country Ham Soup
Country hams have a taste and texture altogether different from that of other hams. They usually are slowly air-cured in smokehouses, which gives them their unique salty, smoky taste. Different parts of the country swear by their own special curing techniques, as well as the way in which their pigs are fed, as they keys to producing the ultimate ham. Ask your deli manager or butcher to help you find a really fine country ham or at least a suitable substitute.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 leek, white and light green portion, washed and minced
- 1 celery stalk, timed and diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 2 cups cleaned and chopped escarole (about 8 ounces)
- 1 cup diced country ham
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Heat the butter in a soup pot over low heat; add the onion, leek, celery and garlic and stir until they are evenly coated with butter. Cover the pot and cook until tender and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the broth, potatoes and thyme. Simmer the soup until the potatoes are beginning to disintegrate, 15 to 20 minutes
- Add the escarole and diced ham, and simmer the soup for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until all ingredients are tender.
- Add salt and generous amounts of pepper to taste and serve the soup in a heated soup tureen or individual bowls.
Note: To make the soup in advance, complete the recipe through step 3, then cool to room temperature, transfer to a bowl or container, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Variations: The ham can be omitted and vegetable broth used for a meatless soup. The soup can be pureed once the potatoes are tender, before adding the shredded escarole and ham.