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.

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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.