Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Planned overs and Pantry Raids - Soup with Ham

We made a large ham for Easter. Half of it served the family (our basic family of four and our parents) on Sunday night. The rest of this delicious smoked ham became leftovers - or planned overs, since we planned it that way. Chuck sliced some of the meat in sandwich- sized slices and cut up the rest, the awkward pieces, in smaller chunks for soup or stew. He left quite a bit on the bone.

That's where Monday's soup originated: the ham bone. Most of my soups are more raid than recipe; I have the basic broth and meat and then whatever vegetables are in the house at the time. If you're a precise recipe person, this one is not for you. If you're willing to play with the ingredients a bit, raid your pantry if needed, then it's right up your alley.

I added the following to my four-quart slow cooker.

Ham bone with meat scraps still on (smoked on the grill the previous night, yum)
3-4 cups water (vegetable or pork soup stock would work, too)
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
leftover bean mix from red beans and rice, served last Thursday
handful of fresh spinach, washed and torn into smaller pieces
1 can diced tomatoes

Simmer on low most of the day - 5 to 6 hours will do. Remove ham bone. Using a fork, remove ham from bone and shred into smaller, soup-worthy pieces. Return meat to pot.

Serve with fresh bread or rolls.

I had some extra fun (I'm such a science geek) with the bone. It was actually two bones, including a rotator joint. "Gee, honey, what part of the pig was this? The joint looked like a shoulder." But anyway, back to the topic. I didn't add spices or herbs; thyme might have been good. The beans were already spiced, so they added a little flavor of their own.

Soups and stews don't have to be a precise recipe. My process often starts with thawing a container of soup stock from the freezer, adding onion and celery, and then searching the vegetable drawer for ingredients. Even though my last blood test showed that I'm no longer anemic, I'm still cooking iron-rich dishes. This soup had spinach and beans, both good sources of iron that are easily absorbed.

Like it? I named my experimental post-holiday soup Minestrone with Ham. We had generous portions last night, and a batch will go in the freezer for later - my next planned-overs.

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