For luncheon ideas, smooth and creamy potato soup is always an excellent option. The soup makes a fabulous first course as well. This version is seasoned with a ham bone or ham hock along with sauteed leeks and butter. Optional croutons and shredded cheese make an attractive and delicious garnish for this soup while adding texture to offset the creaminess.
If the ham bone is meaty, dice the ham finely and use it for garnish. Or, if you prefer a chunkier soup, blend only part of the soup and add any diced ham you might have along with the cream.
- Peel the onion and chop it coarsely.
- Cut off the root end and all of the dark green tops from the leeks and discard. Slice the white leeks in half. Rinse the leeks under cold water while separating the layers to dislodge any clinging sand. Slice the leeks thinly.
- Heat the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat; add the chopped onion and sliced leeks and saute until softened and golden in color, stirring frequently.
- Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.
- To the onions and leeks, add the cubed potatoes, the ham bone, thyme, and chicken stock; bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the potatoes are very soft. Remove the ham bone. If the ham bone is meaty, remove the meat and dice to use in the soup or as a garnish, or refrigerate the ham for another dish.
- Cool potato and leek mixture slightly and puree in a food processor or put through a sieve. Return to pan and add cream (and ham, if using).
- Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes; taste and add salt and pepper, as needed
- Serve hot with a garnish of croutons and a sprinkling of shredded cheese, if desired.
- Processing hot liquids in a blender will produce steam which can blow the lid off the container, potentially causing a mess and possible burns. To blend hot foods safely, fill the blender about one-third full, and never over half full. Loosen the center cup in the lid. Place a thick folded kitchen towel over the lid and hold it down firmly while you pulse or blend.
- Easy Croutons: Heat the oven to 300 F. Stack 4 slices of good-quality bread and slice into 1/2-inch cubes (or slightly larger). Toss the cubes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil or melted butter and then spread the cubes out on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning and stirring after 10 minutes.