It got a little rainy and cool this weekend, so I was in the mood for something hearty and rich to eat. I also wanted something relatively low-carb and simple. I ended up concocting a Creamy Ham, Potato, Cauliflower soup that started out a bit rocky, but turned out fabulous!
I started with a small ham and a bunch of baby vidalia onions with the greens still attached. I chopped about half of the ham up and put it in the crock pot (on high) with the chopped vidalias and greens, garlic and some chicken stock. When the onions began to soften, I started a pot of peeled, chopped potatoes and chopped cauliflower, salted and filled with enough water to cover everything. I let this boil til the veggies were soft, then used a stick blender to puree it. This got added to the crockpot ham and onions.
White wine and salt and pepper were added, and I tasted it...well, it was pretty darn bland. I decided that maybe there was too much liquid in the potatoes and cauliflower, so next time I think I will steam them, and add as much of the steaming water as seems necessary, which should reduce the water volume quite a bit.
To perk up the flavor, I added some fresh lemon thyme from the garden, fresh grated nutmeg, some cream, butter, and the last bits of some cheese I found in the fridge. This made the soup fairly tasty, and the rest of the folks that were here visiting for a geeky board-game day seemed to enjoy it, too. I left it on low in the crock pot, figuring that the flavor would improve with more slow cooking. My kind husband put the soup away for me, because I fell asleep pretty early that night.
I came back to the soup the next day, and discovered that there wasn't much left! It had been eaten by hungry gamers, but there was still enough for a meal for two, with a bit of stretching. I chopped up some more ham and sauteed it with bacon fat and several big cloves of garlic, minced. When this was cooked until the garlic seemed done, I added the soup and a bit of milk and cooked it long enough to heat it all up really well.
It was like a whole new soup! The rich flavors that I had been hoping for the previous day were all there.
Today for lunch I finished up the very last bit of soup by heating it and pouring it over a bowl full of leaf lettuce and spinach from my garden, and WOW! The peppery, bitter flavor of the fresh greens really enhanced the creamy, garlicky, hammy soup, and the fusion of the two were outstandingly delicious.