Ham and Potato Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped parsnips or carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 minced garlic clove
1 meaty ham bone from a ham, or a meaty ham shank
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups cubed ham , 3/4-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup whipping cream
Salt to taste
Heat olive oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot or Dutch oven on medium high heat.
Add the onions, parsnips or carrots, celery, and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
Add the ham bone or ham shank to the pot. Add 6 cups of stock. Add bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer for 15 more minutes, until they are cooked through.
Remove the ham bone or ham shank from the soup. Purée half of the soup so that some of the potatoes get puréed to give the soup body, and there are still whole chunks of potatoes for texture. If using a ham shank, cut away the meat and chop into 3/4-inch cubes. Add the chopped ham and black pepper to the soup. Stir in the cream. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if needed.