Sunday, January 18, 2015

It's all about the soup.....

Tomatillo Bacon & Ham Soup


4 c rich turkey or chicken broth
2 c Salsa Verde, home made or store bought
1 lb. fresh frozen corn
1/2 lb. bacon
1/2 lb. lean ham
2 c Asadero or Monterrey jack cheese
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp black pepper
Garnish with cilantro, opt
1/4 c bacon grease
1/4 c flour
1 can(s) 12 oz evaporated milk

A few short years ago my only experience in making any type of liquid based dish was making Chicken and Dumplings or Stews.  Just the thought of making a soup from scratch seemed daunting to me.  I found myself reading through some friends Tomato Soup recipes, and even though they varied a bit in technique and ingredients, I was intrigued enough to give it a whirl.  I did a little more research and began my first trial run at making home made soup from scratch.
Well let me tell you, that busted open the flood gates and it lead to numerous more soups with a varied range of ingredients, and this soup was one of them.  I really didn't think I would wow anyone with it, although I loved the flavor and texture, it just didn't seem like the type of "dish" my guys would be bowed over by, WRONG!
The following day I sent a batch to work with them to share with their male co-workers and I received a request for my recipe, one fellow wanted to make it for his kids.  Surprised and honored I obliged.
Fast forward a year to 2015, I make another batch (a double batch this time) with only a minimal change to the recipe, I made a cream sauce instead of the cream cheese I had previously used.  Again I shared, only this time it went out in three different directions to feed a total of ten different mouths.  Once again the feedback was mind blowing.  All three camps came back with oooh's and aaah's!  Compliments from the men in my world aren't given out readily, so I knew this was indeed a winner.

I start all my soups/stews/chowders etc. with home made stock, I think that's where the deep rich flavors begin and the reason such few seasonings need to be added later on in the cooking process.  

For this soup I also made my own Salsa Verde, or Tomatillo Salsa.  There are numerous ways to make this salsa, buying fresh tomatillos is a rewarding way, but buying canned ones is a more convenient and time saving way.  I buy the 28 oz cans and puree them in my blender.  To that I add one jalapeno that I've simmered in water for about 10-15 min.  I also add about 1/2-1 tsp of granulated garlic and a small handful of cilantro, all put into the blender and pureed.  It's just that simple.  I place the salsa in a container in the refrigerator and store it up to a week.

I always try to keep some bacon in my freezer so I have it on hand for impromptu dishes.  I cook mine by thawing it, then placing on a baking sheet and cooking it in the oven at 375° for 18-25 min.  It depends on the thickness of the bacon as to how long you bake it, but it comes out perfect every time.  We also tend to smoke a few hams when the holidays grow near, so I usually have leftover ham in my freezer through the soup making months.  You can of course buy ham from your deli and it does not have to be smoked, that's just an added flavor booster.

So with all ingredients prepared or reconstituted, it's time to make soup....


1.  Crumble or chop cooked bacon and ham, set aside. 
2.  Grate cheese, set aside. 
3.  Place thawed or fresh corn kernels in food processor and pulse a few times to break them down a little.
4.  Place broth and salsa verde together in large soup pot, add crumbled bacon, chopped ham and corn over medium low heat. 
5.  In a small skillet or sauce pan heat bacon grease, add flour to make a thick paste. Now stir in can milk and continue stirring with a whisk to remove all lumps, (if it gets too thick to quick, add some of the chicken stock from your soup to thin out a little). Once it is lump free and creamy, add to soup pot and stir in well.  Add granulated garlic, thyme, black pepper and salt to taste. Simmer for about 30 min. stirring occasionally.
6.  Remove from heat and allow cooling slightly. Add grated cheese and stir until melted, if cheese becomes a little stringy; add a couple squeezes of lemon juice.