The holidays are over but what to do with all that leftover ham? My favorite way to use leftover ham is in a warm, rich chowder. The recipe uses only a few ingredients so each one has a chance to shine. This Ham Chowder is rich and creamy, and bursting with delicious ham flavor.
I like to model my ham chowder after a loaded baked potato. That means generous amounts of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, butter, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of sliced green onions or chives. Each of these individual flavors compliments one another so deliciously! When a soup utilizes so few ingredients, each of them has to absolutely taste great on its own.
For the cheese, I prefer a good, strong New York or Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar. I want the flavor of the cheese to really stand out instead of shrinking into the background of the creamy soup base. If your palette does not prefer sharp cheddar cheese, try a mild shredded cheddar or even a Colby jack. If you’d like to add a hint of spice go for a jalapeno jack (pepper jack) cheese. It’s your soup, dress it up how you please!
For the potatoes, I typically use Russet but Idaho or Yukon Gold are also very good choices for baking potatoes. You could opt to forgo baking the potatoes and boil them instead – in that case, reach for Yukon Gold, fingerling or red-skinned potatoes as they hold their shape best when boiling. The ease and quickness of boiling the potatoes is very tempting but baking them in the oven does impart a much richer potato flavor. If you have leftover baked potatoes those are perfect in this soup, too. I just slice them in half and scoop them out of the skins.
Now, add in that delicious, salty, leftover ham and pull all those delicious flavors together into a soul-warming soup. Yum.
Leftover Ham Chowder
- 4 large baking potatoes (Idaho, Russet, Yukon Gold) [See Note 1]
- 1 pound (16 ounces) leftover baked or boiled ham
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium sweet onion, diced fine
- ½ tsp garlic, minced
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock low sodium [See Note 2]
- 2 cups half and half [See Note 2]
- 8 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated [See Note 3]
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 3 green onions (scallions) chopped, green part only [see note 4]
- Optional garnishes
- grated cheese
- green onions
- sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the potatoes on a sheet tray or directly onto the oven rack and bake for 45 minutes - or until done. The potatoes are done when a fork or tip of a knife inserted into the potato goes into the center of the potato easily.
- Into the bottom of your stock pot, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and the diced onion. Sauté until softened and translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
- meanwhile, slice the ham into small cubes, removing any excess fat; set aside.
- Now, add the flour to the onions and garlic and stir to combine. Continue cooking for another minute or two - but do not brown.
- Pour in the chicken stock and milk while you stir well to incorporate. Cook over medium heat until the soup has thickened, stirring quite frequently, about 10-15 minutes.
- While the soup is thickening, slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and then scoop the potatoes out away from the skins and then add them to the soup. With a fork or the back of your spoon, break up the potatoes a bit.
- Add the 3/4 of the ham pieces (reserving ¼ for garnish) and half of the grated cheese to the soup. Stir until the cheese has melted. Taste and adjust the seasonings well with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and ladle into bowls. Garnish with extra ham, grated cheese and green onions.
1). If you chose to bake the potatoes use Russet, Idaho or Yukon Gold. These are the best for baking. If you chose to boil the potatoes use red-skinned, fingerling, or Yukon Gold. These are the best for boiling. Yukon Gold is a very good all-around potato and can be used for baking or boiling which is why they are so popular.2). I use a combination of half and half (2 cups) and chicken broth (4 cups). This is just to save calories on the dish. If you prefer to use all half and half, use 6 cups and omit the chicken broth.3). I like the flavor of sharp cheddar cheese in this recipe. If you do not care for it, substitute with a mild cheddar, or Colby Jack. To add some spice to the dish opt for Jalapeno Jack (Pepper Jack) cheese. 4). Chives may be substituted for the green onions (scallions).