A Trio of Hearty Soups for a Cold Spring Day

Preparing the Ample Bites vegetable garden plot for planting on a windy, chilly morning brought to mind a trio of hearty soups.

The first soup is a robust and healthy White Bean and Ham Soup that will incorporate ham scraps and the ham bone from one of the family’s Easter hams. The recipe is very easy, takes little prep and can be made ahead of time to be reheated. The only real advance preparation required is soaking the dried white beans overnight to reconstitute them.

The other two soups are richer cream-based soups using simple ingredients such as mushrooms and potatoes. The Smoked Potato Soup is uniquely flavorful. The Mushroom Soup is rich and elegant with its garnishes of goat’s milk cheese and sauteed mushrooms.

Try all three soups and let Ample Bites know which is your favorite.

White Bean and Ham Soup

White Bean and Ham Soup
Mark Kelly

Serves 6

¾ pound (about 1 ½ cups) dried white beans, preferably cannellini
1 pound ham, preferably remainder of a full ham, on the bone
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 large red onions, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
4 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
4 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 ½ tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Soak the beans overnight in enough cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Drain.

Trim most of the loose ham from the bone and warm in a large Dutch oven until warmed through. Remove the ham from the skillet and add the chopped onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic to the pot. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the beans, stock, 2 tablespoons of the fresh sage and 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are almost tender, about 1 hour.

Add the ham and salt to the pot and continue cooking until the beans are very tender, about 15 minutes. Puree about 1 ½ cups of the beans with some of the liquid in a blender or food processor .

Return the puree to the soup. Add the remaining herbs and the black pepper and serve immediately.

Mushroom Soup
(Courtesy of Tasting Table Sous Chef Series, Adapted from Mike Ryan, Elements, Princeton, New Jersey)

Serves 6

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ pounds Cremini mushrooms, 1 pound finely chopped, ½ pound sliced
3 large fingerling potatoes, finely chopped
1 sprig thyme
1 dried bay leaf
¼ cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable broth
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Crusty bread for serving
Fresh goat’s milk cheese (Chevre), for serving

In a large heavy bottomed soup pot, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped mushrooms, potatoes, thyme and bay leaf and continue to cook, stirring often, until all of the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes.

Pour the wine into the pot; once it has been mostly absorbed, add the vegetable broth. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat.

In a medium skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the ½ pound slice mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and set aside.

Blend the soup with an immersion blender. Return the soup to medium heat. Season with the soy sauce, salt and pepper and cook until warmed through. Divide the soup among soup bowls and sprinkle with some sautéed mushrooms. Serve with crusty bread and fresh goat’s milk cheese.

Smoked Potato Soup
(Courtesy of Tasting Table Chefs’ Recipes, Adapted from Cedric Maupillier, Mintwood Place, Washington, D.C.)

Serves 4

2 cups hickory-wood chips
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 large), each pricked a few times with a fork
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large leek, white part only, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
1 ½ Tbsp white miso paste
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the wood chips in the bottom of a large stockpot and set over high heat. Once the wood chips become fragrant, after about 5 minutes, place steamer insert over the chips and set the potatoes in the steamer. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until a paring knife easily slips into the center of the potatoes, about 1 ½ hours. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly, then peel the potatoes.

Meanwhile, make the soup base: In a stockpot set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, leek and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Pour in the water, cream and milk, and then stir in the miso, salt and pepper. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to almost a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes, buttermilk and sherry vinegar and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth (alternatively, blend in a blender, working in batches, then return the soup to the stockpot). Warm gently over medium heat. Serve heat.

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