Author: Debbie Arnold | Dining with Debbie
When the heat of summer passes and the first waves of crisp autumn air arrive, all thoughts in our household turn to soup. We are a soup-loving family and this Cheesy Ham and Bacon Chowder is one of our favorites, especially when it’s made with Petit Jean Meats ham and bacon.
The full-bodied flavor of the ham and bacon shine through the richness of the cheese and cream making this soup a full, filling meal especially welcomed on those days and nights when a chill is in the air. The fact that is uses leftover ham is a real plus in my book.
For variation, replace the ham with cubed Petit Jean Meats™ smoked sausage, adding a few flakes of red pepper just to give it a little extra pizzazz.
⅔ cup melted unsalted butter, plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ cups finely chopped onions
1 cup thinly sliced celery
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced or diced
3 Tablespoons minced poblano pepper, optional
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups water
32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
1 packet powdered ham seasoning, optional (I use Goya™.)
2 Tablespoons Liquid Smoke™
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 pound Velveeta™, cubed (The 2% can be used, but I prefer the regular for a creamier consistency.)
2 cups ½-inch diced potatoes (I do not peel mine.)*
1½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup evaporated milk
⅔ cup flour (I prefer Wondra™.)
salt and pepper to taste
Chives, as garnish
Freshly grated extra sharp Cheddar as garnish
1.) In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; set aside.
2.) Add 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter to bacon fat in skillet.
3.) Add onions, celery, celery and poblano pepper. Sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.
4.) Add in garlic and sauté about 2 minutes.
5.) Move vegetable mixture to a large stock pot; add in water, chicken broth, ham seasoning, Liquid Smoke, 6 slices crumbled bacon thyme and bay leaves.
6.) Bring to a slow boil and boil gently for 10-15 minutes; reduce heat to medium low. Add in cubed Velveeta™, stirring until cheese is melted.
7.) Add in diced potatoes and corn kernels. Allow to simmer 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
8.) Whisk together ⅔ cup melted unsalted butter, cream, evaporated milk and flour. Remove ½ cup of the soup liquid and whisk into flour mixture.
9.) Slowly stir cream mixture into stock pot, stirring constantly until mixture is incorporated. Allow to thicken slightly before adding ham.
10.) Check potatoes for doneness by inserting a fork into a piece. It should insert easily. Do not overcook as the potatoes will fall apart.
11.) Taste test and adjust seasonings. Remove bay leaves and thyme stems prior to serving.
12.) Serve garnished with crumbled bacon, shredded Cheddar and chopped chives.