Soup's on! That was a very welcome call to dinner over the last few days. Hurricane Sandy, a.k.a Frankenstorm, sure did create havoc out there. For those of us fortunate enough to have power, soup was just the dish to warm both tummies and spirits. It's a good thing I had a hambone ready to rock!
This is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup. Hearty with potatoes, yet with a delicate balance of sweet butternut squash and tender leeks, spicy with the gentle heat of chipotles in adobo, and smoky with ham and bacon...it just hits all the right flavor and texture notes that make a great soup.
Have you peeked ahead at the recipe? Did you notice there's no cream to thicken this chowder? Not even a butter and flour roux? The creamy, hearty texture comes from instant potato flakes! Potato flakes help keep the calorie count fairly low...would you believe a big bowl of today's recipe has only 154 calories? Not bad, huh?
Here's the recipe. Enjoy....and please stay warm and dry and safe.
Butternut Chipotle Chowder with Ham
- 1 ham bone, with lots of meat
- 2 stalks celery, with tops & extra leaves, cut into large pieces
- 2 onions, peeled and quartered
- a handful of dried minced garlic - if you can't find it in the store, try Penzey's...I get mine at Costco.
- 2 slices bacon, thick-sliced, cut across into 1/2" pieces
- 2 large leeks, washed well and chopped (see washing method below)
- 6 red potatoes, unpeeled, diced small
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and diced small
- 2 stalks celery, small dice
- 2 small chipotle chile canned in adobo, minced, PLUS 2 T. adobo sauce
- 1 cup mashed potato flakes
Put the hambone, celery and leaves, onions and dried garlic into a large soup pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours until the ham starts to fall from the bone. Remove bone & meat to a platter and reserve. Take all the meat from the bone and shred. Discard the bone.
Then, using a spider or large slotted spoon, remove veggies. Discard veggies.
In a large skillet, saute bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Reserve bacon fat. Add the butternut squash and saute until it begins to caramelize, but not until soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the ham stock in the soup pot. Add the leeks and celery to skillet and continue to stir and cook until soft. Add to the soup pot.
Add the potatoes, reserved shredded ham and the chipotles & adobo sauce to pot. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil again. As soon as it comes to a boil, lower the heat again to low and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and the soup comes together.
Add the instant mashed potato flakes to thicken and give a chowder consistency.
Serve garnished with reserved crispy bacon and a drizzle of sour cream or Greek yogurt.
If you want, separate the squash seeds and roast them at 350 with a sprinkle of Kosher salt and a sprinkle of chipotle powder and a spray of olive oil for about 10 minutes. Stir and roast another few minutes until crunchy. Finish your garnish with the roasted seeds. Better than pumpkin seeds!
NOTE: Leeks are VERY sandy and it is difficult to get all that dirt and sand from between all the layers. Back in the 70's Graham Kerr - The Galloping Gourmet - shared his method for cleaning leeks. Works like a charm!
He always started his leek segment by saying, "First, you take a leek." Love his humor! Okay, the method.
Trim the dried, fibrous end of the leek off. Then wash the root end. Starting from about 1/2" above the roots, slice the leek in half lengthwise making SURE the leaves remain attached. Turn the leek 1/4 turn and slice lengthwise again. Spread the leaves apart - again, making sure the leaves stay attached to the root end and wash the leek under cold running water. Be sure to get between each of the leaves and that you are removing ALL the debris.. When you're sure it's completely clean, dry it thoroughly and proceed to chop. It may seem like a lot of trouble, but it's simpler than it sounds here. And the leeks are squeaky clean!
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