I found this recipe for Sweet Potato, Leek and Ham Soup online, and thought it sounded good (and I had all the ingredients!) so gave it a try. Right away, I knew it needed spices to bring the flavor from blah to WOW. Here's my version of Sweet Potato, Leek and Ham Soup - It has a deep, rich spice undertone in addition to the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and ham.
Spicy Sweet Potato and Ham Soup
- 1 cup diced cooked ham*
- 1 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1+ tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups raw, cubed peeled sweet potato (2 large)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated fat-free milk (NOT a large can!)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp red cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp butter
Preparation1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and diced ham; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Remove ham from pan; set aside.
Add sliced leek and diced shallot to pan. Add a small amount of olive oil if needed. Cook on low heat, covered, 5 minutes or until leeks are very tender, stirring occasionally.
Add sweet potatoes and next 10 ingredients (water, chicken broth, evaporated milk, spices), scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until sweet potato is very tender.
Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture in pan.
OR: Place half of potato mixture in a blender or food processor. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Process until smooth. Pour puree into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan.
Stir in maple syrup and mustard. Stir in reserved diced ham. Right before serving, add 1 tbsp butter and stir in until butter melts. Ladle soup into bowls while steaming hot.
*Note on Ham - To keep the cost of this soup down, I used "cooked ham" found in the deli department. I asked them to slice it 1/4 inch thick, then I bring it home and dice it. In New England, this is called "boiled ham". It's the least expensive "lunch meat" here in Ohio. This same diced ham can be used in omelettes, in macaroni and cheese, on salads, and in quiche. It freezes well, so it's easy to always have some on hand. Of course, if you have any other kind of ham it will work just as well.
I served this soup with hot from the oven Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Perfection!
Life is good -- even when the weather turns cold because now you can make soup!