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Ham leftovers = yummy soup

Soup family favorite at my house

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We cooked a delicious glazed ham for Thanksgiving, and although my family ate quite a bit, we still had plenty of leftovers.

I thought we’d eat ham sandwiches with a side of deviled eggs or warmed-up sweet potato casserole on Saturday. But my son had a better idea and asked me to make one of his favorite recipes, a cheesy potato and ham soup. I hesitated when he made the request for this soup — a recipe I’ve been making for a dozen years or more.

I also love the soup, but there are quite a few steps, and it’s not a one-pot meal.

I’ve also adapted the recipe many times, often doubling it, so I always have to wing it when I’m making the recipe so I can get it just right.

That’s fixed for now because I measured and wrote down every ingredient as I made the creamy soup on Saturday morning for our lunch.

There are quite a few ingredients to cut or chop in this delicious soup recipe that I adapted from the book “Best of Country Soups.” It’s a good idea to prepare the potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and ham before starting the recipe. When I don’t have ham leftovers, I buy a package of cubed or diced ham at the grocery store.

You will need two pots to make this recipe: one to cook the veggies and one to make the cheese sauce. The cheese sauce should be made in a non-stick pot. I’m glad I haven’t kept track of how many times I’ve had to dump the cheese sauce because it has stuck to the bottom of my soup pot and burned. I didn’t have that trouble this time because of my new ceramic, non-stick cookware. (I highly recommend.)

Now that I have a reliable recipe and a good pot for my soup, I’ll be making this recipe more often for Robert and whole family.

Lisa Boykin Batts has been writing a weekly food column since 2001. Her column includes recipes she and her family enjoy.

Cheesy Potato Soup with Ham

3 cups water

3 cups red potatoes, peeled and diced (not too small)

1/4 to 1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup carrots, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups ham (can use less)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk (I use skim milk)

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Combine water, potatoes, celery, carrots, onions, salt and pepper in a large saucepan. Let come to a boil. Simmer until vegetables are tender. After about 10 minutes, add the ham and continue simmering until veggies are tender.

In a non-stick saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. With a whisk, stir in flour until smooth. Pour in milk, whisking as you add. Continue whisking until smooth. Let come to a simmer. Cook for a few minutes until thickened. Watch carefully so the sauce doesn’t stick to the pan.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Stir until smooth.

Pour vegetable and ham mixture into cheese sauce (do not drain vegetables) and stir until combined.

Serve with crusty bread.

Adapted from a Taste of Home recipe

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