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Dinner in 20 Minutes: Ham, Potato & Kale Soup

I’m trying to eat more soup. Partly because it’s good for me, generally, what with all those vegetables in it. Partly because it takes longer to eat than most foods – it’s hard to scarf down a hot bowl of soup in under 60 seconds like I could so easily do with, say, a thick slice of bread, toasted, with peanut butter. Or a grilled cheese sandwich. Or a danish. Or so many deliciously calorie-dense things.

Fortunately, I like soup. And I love its infinite versatility – no matter what you have in your fridge and pantry, chances are you can whip up a pot. It need not simmer for hours to taste great, but leftovers are even better the second day. Case in point: this hearty ham, potato and kale soup that went from idea to dinner in under 20 minutes. And it’s a great way to get in your greens.

Roast ham is the very best kind of leftover to have in your freezer; store chunks to chop into soups and pastas, and if you’re lucky enough to wind up with a hambone, it makes great stock.

Ham, Potato & Kale Soup

This soup is delicious with the addition of little white beans or black-eyed peas. If you don’t have a hambone to make stock, use 1 L chicken or vegetable stock.

1 ham bone, with meat still on the bone, or a cup or so of chopped leftover roast ham
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 onion or leek, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
3 small thin-skinned potatoes
1 large bunch kale, washed and thinly sliced (discard the ribs)
salt and pepper, to taste

In a pot big enough to accommodate it, cover the ham bone with water and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, then remove the bone and set it aside until it’s cool enough to handle. Pull and cut any meat off the bone and add it to the ham stock.

Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of oil in a heavy pot set over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the celery, carrot and garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the ham, stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Add the kale and stir; cook for a minute or two, until the kale wilts. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot, topped with freshly grated Parmesan. Serves 4-6.

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