More often than not, thanks to my 5-ish years as a vegetarian, when it’s time to prepare dinner for Jeremy and I from our bounty of the winter CSA we pick up from Peaceful Pastures [chicken and beef and pork, oh my!] I’ll turn to twitter and ask for HALP.
We’re eating out a lot this week for dinner thanks to some dear friends in town [hi, Myra!] and the opportunity to reconnect with neighbor pals [hellooo, J1 + Juanita!]. Because of that, I thought I’d tackle cooking up a cut of pork that I’d never dealt with before – cubed ham. At least, that’s what the package of frozen meat was listed as on the Peaceful Pastures label.
My first thought was split pea soup which is a classic ham pairing combo, but given my new work hours during the week and my last-minuteness in terms of preparation I needed to make a soup that would be ready in about an hour. Sub in potatoes for split peas, add some green veggies and you’ve got a delicious and hearty homestyle soup perfect for the gray and cold weather we’ve been experiencing in Nashville this week.
I very loosely based my recipe off of this one by Rachel Ray that my twitter pal Jennifer sent my way – and by loosely, I really used it as a jumping off point for my method. So feel free to use my recipe as a jumping off point – use meat or don’t, sub in different vegetables, seasonings, etc. Let the weather move you and just toss things in a pot. After all, if you’re anything like us [or Lindsay and Taylor], you’ve got a back-up plan in place when your dinner attempt fails [thanks, Five Points Pizza [us!] and Lazzaroli [them!]].
Hearty & Homey Spinach-Potato Soup
Yield : 4-ish soup-only entrées, 6-ish soup + side entrées
Prep Time : 30 minutes Cook Time : 1 1/2 hours
glug of olive oil [about 2-3 TBSP]
1 medium white onion, roughly diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
5 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 lb cubed ham*
1 large zucchini, roughly chopped
1 1/2-2 lbs baby red potatoes, roughly diced
3 cups coconut milk, divided**
3 cups water, divided
5 ounces baby spinach [1/2 of a typical pre-packaged bag of prepared leaves]
seasonings to taste : salt, freshly cracked black pepper, dill, basil, oregano***
1. Heat a large stock pot on medium/medium-high and add olive oil to pot. Once oil is warmed, add onions and sautée until translucent, 4-5 minutes.
2. Add garlic and carrots to onions and sautée for an additional 6-7 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and crispy [not burned!]. Add zucchini next, sautéeing until soft and nearly translucent.
3. Add ham to onion mixture, making sure to nestle the pieces down to the bottom of the pot so the outside of the meat can sear. Flip ham every 2-3 minutes until all sides have a sear.
4. Add diced potatoes. Let mixture sautée in pot for 10-12 minutes, mixing every few minutes so that the potatoes can get crispy.
5. Add 2 cups coconut milk and 2 cups water to pot. Cover and let simmer on medium-low for 1 hour, checking occasionally.
6. Remove ham and add spinach to soup mixture. Puree with immersion blender to preferred texture [I was going for a completely smooth soup so I pureed to that point]. Return ham to soup, add seasoning to taste and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes before serving.
*our cubed ham ended up being more like cubed pork and didn’t have the cured taste + texture that ham usually does. Jeremy enjoyed it but I preferred my soup without the chunks of meat in it.
**I’m sure you can use whatever kind of coconut milk you have in your pantry or refrigerator. We used the refrigerated style.
***I only had dried spices on hand this week but would normally prefer using fresh herbs. Just go with the flow!