It’s been soup weather for a while now. I love soup all year round, but I admit that it doesn’t have as much appeal to me as it does in the fall and winter. After indulging in hot dogs, burgers, fried foods, and take out all summer, I am happy to get back to having a bowl of soup for lunch. There are studies that suggest that eating soup is a good strategy to help lose weight (as long as you avoid the cream and/or cheese soups). So, if you are planning on dieting in the new year, you may want to make a couple batches of soup.
I recently made turkey soup from Thanksgiving leftovers. Now, with holiday dinners over, I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite soups to make with your ham leftovers – that is if you cook a ham for holiday dinners. If you don’t, maybe cook one after the holidays – it makes a great meal, and there’s lots of meals you can make with the leftovers. There’s nothing that makes you feel more like a Pioneer Woman than making stock and using up the leftovers!
My favorite soup to make with ham leftovers is Pea Soup. Yup. Pea Soup. I know, it doesn’t look or sound appealing, especially if you don’t like peas – but, trust me on this one, I’m not a fan of peas, but I love this soup. It has lots of flavor, and it’s filling, and comforting.
This soup could not be easier – you don’t even have to soak the peas. You start out with some simple ingredients:
Saute the onions, add the garlic, then chicken broth, bay leaf, and peas. The onions provide a lot of the flavor. The soup will look very watery at first.
But after cooking for an hour or so, the peas will absorb the liquid, and it will look more like a porridge of sorts. At this point, you add in a cup of milk, and use an immersion blender to make it more creamy.
After having a cup or two, I like to ladle it into 1-cup serving containers and freeze it. I do this with 3 or 4 different types of soups/chilis, and that way I have a variety of soup to eat every day. I can grab a frozen cup in the morning, and warm it up in the microwave at lunch – I don’t even have to refrigerate in between.
The other soup that I like to make with leftover ham – especially the bone – is bean soup. I don’t have a recipe per se for bean soup because there are so many variations, and, I usually purchase one of those mixes that comes with all the different kind of beans. There are a bunch of options, and they are all good, but the one that I’ve been making lately is called “Buckeye Bean Soup”.
I love the flavors of this mix – maybe some chili powder? Or cumin? I’m not sure what the secret ingredient is, but I can highly recommend it. The only negative is that they don’t sell it in the grocery store around here. I’ve actually only ever bought it at Homegoods or TJ Maxx.
The concept is the same with these mixes. You start out by soaking the beans the night before you are going to make the soup. Then you add the water, herbs and spices, the ham bone (and extra ham if you like), and tomatoes, and then cook it for a few hours – even 8 or 10 will not hurt it. With the Buckey Bean soup mix, the beans all break down so that your soup is not “beany” at all, just the yummy flavors.
When you are done with your soup, make sure to freeze it in the individual containers – you will be so thankful that you did.
What kind of soup do you make in the winter?
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups yellow onions, chopped
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 lb split peas, picked over and rinsed
- 8 cups fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
- In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil.
- Add the onions.
- Season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper.
- Saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the garlic, bay leaf, and split peas and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
- Add the broth and ham.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, and simmer stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or more, until the peas are tender.
- Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- Remove the bay leaf and discard.
- Add the milk and, using a hand-held blender or potato masher, process until smooth.
- Add the hot sauce if desired and serve hot.