Vegetable and White Bean Soup with Blood Farm Ham

Cool weather. Time for soup. This one is a variation on a recipe from the Gardner Museum Café Cookbook. Groton’s own Blood Farm ham is a salty and smoky variety – you can substitute Virginia Ham.  The Blood Farm ham can be leftover baked ham (I bake it with bourbon, cloves and brown sugar) or grilled ham steak – each version imparts a slightly different flavor to the soup. If you are using grilled ham you might want to add a little extra sherry. There is room to play with the amounts of some things (I often skip the cream) but the fresh basil, parsley, peppers and mushrooms are key to the flavor of this soup.

  • ¼ lb. butter (1 stick) butter
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¾ cup minced fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup minced fresh basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 – 3 cups diced cooked ham
  • 1 quart chicken stock – low sodium if canned
  • 2 large sweet red peppers
  • 1 pound small mushrooms, quartered
  • ¾ cup dry sherry (not the supermarket kind – the liquor store kind)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans – or one 15 oz. can, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
  • 1 ½ cups corn kernels (optional – increase the beans if you don’t use the corn)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Sea Salt

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt half of the butter, and add the garlic and onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent, then add the parsley, basil, bay leaf and ham, then sauté another 3 minutes. Transfer to a large sauced pan or soup pot. Add the chicken stock and let it simmer while you do the next step.

Heat the rest of the butter in the sauté pan over medium heat and add the peppers. After about 5 minutes add the mushrooms. After another 5 minutes add the sherry and simmer an additional 10 minutes to dissipate the alcohol. Transfer this mixture to the soup pot

Reduce the heat to medium low and add the beans, corn and cream (if using). Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the pepper and sea salt to taste. Reheats nicely.


This post first appeared in October of 2012.


Blueberry Pie Sorbet

SONY DSCA long time ago I posted a recipe for blueberry compote. I have since adjusted that recipe a bit and used a blueberry syrup from that compote to make blueberry pie sorbet – the lemon and the fresh nutmeg make it taste like filling from blueberry pie. If you prefer your sorbet more tart than sweet, increase the amount of lemon juice and decrease the blueberry syrup accordingly.

Make sure that the bowl of your 1 quart ice cream maker has been in the freezer for at least 24 hours, and make the simple syrup explained below and chill that in the fridge.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of cold simple syrup. It’s easy to make: In a medium saucepan mix 2 cups granulated sugar with two cups of water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer without stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and then chill until ready to use.
  • 8 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar (or to taste, depending on how sweet the berries are)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (must be fresh, or omit it)

In a large saucepan combine the berries, sugar, lemon juice and nutmeg. Bring to a boil for 3-4 minutes and then reduce to a simmer. Keep them on simmer until the berries fall apart and the juice thickens. Taste it to be sure that it is as sweet as you like it and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (and your tongue, since you’re tasting). It should not be watery at all. Let it cool to warm or room temperature.

SONY DSCOnce the berries are cool, place a sieve over a large measuring cup/bowl and fill the sieve 3/4 full and let the syrup drip through. It’s okay to stir the berries to speed up the process. Keep adding the berry mixture to the sieve when it gets too thick, and stop when you have 1 1/2 cups of syrup. (If you don’t have quite enough syrup you can add enough lemon juice to bring it up to 1 1/2 cups.) Combine the syrup with the 2 cups of cold simple syrup and pour the mixture into your 1 quart ice cream maker and mix until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove to a 1 quart container, top with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.


Makes  quart.

Two Words: Iced Chocolate

David Lebovitz is one of my heroes, and this is one of many reasons why. Click on this link:

Iced Chocolate.

He took a good recipe – Serenditpity’s Frozen Hot Chocolate – and improved it. How do I know? He replaced hot chocolate mix with plain cocoa powder and ice with ice cream. I haven’t made it yet and if you try it before I do, let me know what you think. If you need a great home made chocolate ice cream recipe, try ours.


Eggs for Dinner

This is one of those using-up-leftovers recipes that turned out better than expected. Of course it can be served for breakfast but it didn’t feel like I was having breakfast for dinner (like when you make pancakes at night) – it was just good. I had some leftover boiled new potatoes and tomato and red onion salad – that’s how it started. This is how it ended up:

SONY DSCIt looks like a mess but it tastes great. It’s almost not even a recipe, but here it is anyway.


  • 6 new potatoes, cooked and sliced
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons red onion, diced
  • 1 cup yellow and red grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic-infused olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 springs parsley, torn
  • 5 Thai basil leaves, torn
  • 4 chives, torn
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 slice provolone cheese, halved (optional)
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper

SONY DSCHeat an enameled cast iron skillet at medium, and add the oil, then the butter. Add the potatoes, the red pepper, and the onion and cook, stirring frequently until the potatoes are nice and brown about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper (or to taste). Add the tomatoes, and then the parsley and basil. Turn down the heat a little and add the chives. After a couple of minutes, when the tomatoes are cooked but not falling apart, divide the mixture between two dinner plates, and top with the cheese.

Put a little more butter in the pan, and crack the eggs into it. (Some people prefer their eggs “clean” and might want to use a separate pan for the eggs – not me.) Flip the eggs so they are over easy so that the whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny. Place one egg each on the serving place, right on top of the cheese. Serve immediately.

Serves two.

On the side: a glass of dry white wine or a grapefruit juice/citrus vodka/agave/seltzer cocktail.