Creamy Ham and Potato Chowder

Green soup bowl filled with Ham Chowder accompanied by a tomato sandwich
Creamy Ham and Potato Chowder

A tummy-warming chowder is always welcome on the table, especially on cool fall and cold winter days. I am a big fan of devising ways to use leftover meat to extend its use and number of servings possible. Today, I am sharing my recipe for Ham and Potato Chowder that makes great use of leftover cooked ham.

I was recently able to get a large ham very reasonably priced. I love a good old-fashioned boiled ham dinner so that’s what I started off with. However, the ham was far too big for our small household to clean up as is so, when I bought it, I knew this but I had plans. Plans for turning the ham into far more servings than could be gotten from simply slicing and plating it and we would have been incredibly tired of it by the time it was finished had we gone that route. And, I am one who detests wasting food so I wasn’t about to throw any of it out.

As those of you who are regular followers of my food blog will know, I am a huge advocate of preparing make-ahead meals for the freezer so that’s what I kept in mind with the ham. I have been developing recipes for using leftover ham and turned a significant part of that $8.26 large ham into three new recipes, resulting in meals that contain approximately 22 servings and that’s after we had the boiled ham dinner for a couple of days and sandwiches, too! I will publish all three recipes over the weeks/months to come, starting with this one for a deliciously thick and flavorful Ham and Potato Chowder.

Spoonful of creamy Ham Chowder in green soup bowl
Ham and Potato Chowder

The chowder starts off with the traditional aromatic mirepoix base of onion, carrot, and celery, all cut into similarly sized, finely diced pieces – i.e., apx. ¼“ in size. For this recipe, I am following the standard traditional mirepoix ratio of 2:1:1 – that is, two parts onion, one part carrots, and one part celery. Because carrots and celery take longer to soften than onions, I give them about a 4-5 minute head start in the skillet.

Once you get the mirepoix underway, it’s time to start par-cooking the potatoes.  I recommend using a waxy variety of potatoes because we want the potato cubes to hold their shape and appear as cubes in the chowder so varieties of potatoes that tend to go mushy when cooked are not really suitable for this chowder. Examples of good varieties of potatoes to use are Norland Reds or Yukon Gold. I suggest potato cubes of ¼” – 1/3” are suitable for this chowder. You don’t want to fully cook the potatoes as they will cook longer once added to the chowder and, if overcooked, even the waxy potatoes will start to break down and become somewhat mushy. Cooking the potato cubes, once they come to the boil, and the heat is then reduced to medium low, for about 5 minutes should be sufficient.

The potatoes are cooked, covered, in 1¼ cups chicken stock. Homemade stock is obviously the preference but a good quality, low-sodium, purchased stock also works. You can also use 2½ teaspoons of chicken bouillon granules (broth mix) or liquid chicken bouillon mixed with 1¼ cups of water, if you wish. The important thing is to reserve the stock in which the potatoes were cooked as that is full of flavor and is going into the chowder, too.

Once the mirepoix has been cooked, transfer it to a small stockpot and add a couple more tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has melted, sprinkle the mixture with flour and stir briskly over medium heat, or slightly lower, for just a few seconds. This will be the thickening agent for the chowder. Slowly pour in the reserved chicken stock liquid from par-cooking the potatoes and stir while doing so to prevent lumps from forming.

Once the mixture starts to thicken, slowly add the milk. I recommend using whole milk, not fat-reduced, in the chowder. If desired, about 1/3 of the milk called for in the recipe could be replaced by cream to make an even richer chowder. Chowders are meant to be thick, rich, and luxurious so avoid using fat-reduced products. I recommend using room temperature milk as it will blend easier than will cold milk straight from the refrigerator. Be sure to keep stirring the mixture to prevent scorching, adjusting and reducing heat, if necessary. Bring the mixture just barely to the boiling point then immediately reduce heat to medium-low and add the par-cooked potatoes, diced ham, and seasonings. Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes, again stirring frequently to prevent scorching, reducing heat if necessary.

Lastly, add the sour cream and cheese(s). I use three kinds of cheeses in this chowder – shredded Cheddar and Gruyère and finely grated Parmesan. While all one kind of cheese can certainly be used, I think you’ll find the chowder will have a more flavorful taste if the blend of cheeses listed are used. Stir until cheese has melted and blended in to the chowder.

I have given the cheese measurements in ounces and grams because it is a more accurate measure than cups that are not all created equal in size, depending on the manufacturer. If you use the weight measurements given for the cheeses, you will know, regardless what size hole shredder or grater you use, or how you fill measuring cups with cheese, you will have the correct amount of cheese for the recipe. I am a huge advocate for cooks having digital scales in the kitchen. I couldn’t get along without mine. They are readily available and not overly expensive so a good investment for the serious cook.

Because whole milk (not fat-reduced) has been used in this chowder, it freezes and reheats well so, if you like to have some make-ahead meals prepped for the freezer, this one can be added to the roster.

Bowl of hearty chowder
Ham and Potato Chowder

Creamy Ham and Potato Chowder

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter

1/3 cup carrots, diced into ¼“ pieces
1/3 cup celery, diced into ¼“ pieces
2/3 cup onion, diced into ¼“ pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced

¾ lb raw waxy potatoes (e.g., Norland Reds, Yukon Golds), peeled and diced into apx. ¼“ – 1/3” cubes
1¼ cups chicken stock

2 tbsp butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, room temperature

1½ cups cooked ham, diced into apx. ¼“- 1/3” cubes
2 tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp dried dillweed
¼ tsp paprika
Pinch cayenne (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1/3 cup sour cream
2 oz (58g) shredded Cheddar cheese
1½ oz (42g) shredded Gruyère cheese
¼ oz (8g) finely grated Parmesan cheese

Equipment Needed:
Digital Scales
Skillet
Small stockpot
Cheese shredder and grater

Method:

Pre-prep: Bring milk and sour cream to room temperature. Dice and measure carrots, celery, onions, ham and potatoes. Mince the garlic cloves. Shred the Cheddar and Gruyère cheeses; grate the Parmesan cheese. Measure out all ingredients.

Heat olive oil in medium sized skillet over medium heat. When skillet is hot and the oil is starting to shimmer, add the butter. Once the butter has melted, reduce heat slightly and add the celery and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 4-5 minutes then add the onions, cooking for about 4-5 minutes longer, or just until onions become transparent and the carrots and celery are softened. Add the minced garlic and stir briskly for about 20 seconds. Do not let garlic scorch.

While the vegetables are cooking, par-cook the diced potatoes, covered, in 1¼ cups chicken stock. Bring the potatoes to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes. Do not completely cook the potatoes as they will cook more when added to the chowder. The potatoes are par-cooked when the tip of a pare knife can be inserted into a potato cube but still meets with resistance. Drain potatoes, reserving the chicken stock in which they were par-cooked.

Heat 2 tbsp butter over medium heat in medium-sized stockpot. Reduce heat slightly and transfer the mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion) and garlic to the stock pot and sprinkle flour over mixture. Stir briskly for a few seconds. Slowly add and stir in the reserved chicken stock from par-cooking the potatoes until mixture starts to thicken. Slowly stir in the milk and bring mixture just barely to the boiling point, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and add the par-cooked potatoes, diced ham, and seasonings. Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, adjusting and reducing heat if necessary.

Add the sour cream and cheese(s). Stir until cheese has melted and blended in. Ladle into soup bowls, serve, and enjoy.

Yield: Apx. 6-8 servings

NOTE: All one variety of cheese (e.g., Cheddar cheese) can be used in this recipe; however, the mixture of cheeses called for in the recipe do certainly contribute to great flavor of the chowder.

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Creamy Ham and Potato Chowder

Rich, flavorful and filling Creamy Ham and Potato Chowder makes great use of leftover ham. Serve with bread, rolls, biscuits, or sandwich of choice.
Course Soup
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword chowder, ham, ham and potato chowder, potato
Servings 6
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup carrots, diced into ¼“ pieces
  • 1/3 cup celery, diced into ¼“ pieces
  • 2/3 cup onion, diced into ¼“ pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ lb raw waxy potatoes (e.g., Norland Reds, Yukon Golds), peeled and diced into apx. ¼“ – 1/3” cubes
  • cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • cups cooked ham, diced into apx. ¼“- 1/3” cubes
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp dried dillweed
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • Pinch cayenne (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 oz (58g) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • oz (42g) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • ¼ oz (8g) finely grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Pre-prep: Bring milk and sour cream to room temperature. Dice and measure carrots, celery, onions, ham and potatoes. Mince the garlic cloves. Shred the Cheddar and Gruyère cheeses; grate the Parmesan cheese. Measure out all ingredients.

  2. Heat olive oil in medium sized skillet over medium heat. When skillet is hot and the oil is starting to shimmer, add the butter. Once the butter has melted, reduce heat slightly and add the celery and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 4-5 minutes then add the onions, cooking for about 4-5 minutes longer, or just until onions become transparent and the carrots and celery are softened. Add the minced garlic and stir briskly for about 20 seconds. Do not let garlic scorch.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, par-cook the diced potatoes, covered, in 1¼ cups chicken stock. Bring the potatoes to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes. Do not completely cook the potatoes as they will cook more when added to the chowder. The potatoes are par-cooked when the tip of a pare knife can be inserted into a potato cube but still meets with resistance. Drain potatoes, reserving the chicken stock in which they were par-cooked.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp butter over medium heat in medium-sized stockpot. Reduce heat slightly and transfer the mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion) and garlic to the stock pot and sprinkle flour over mixture. Stir briskly for a few seconds. Slowly add and stir in the reserved chicken stock from par-cooking the potatoes until mixture starts to thicken. Slowly stir in the milk and bring mixture just barely to the boiling point, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and add the par-cooked potatoes, diced ham, and seasonings. Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, adjusting and reducing heat if necessary.
  5. Add the sour cream and cheese(s). Stir until cheese has melted and blended in. Ladle into soup bowls, serve, and enjoy.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 6-8 servings

NOTE: All one variety of cheese (e.g., Cheddar cheese) can be used in this recipe; however, the mixture of cheeses called for in the recipe do certainly contribute to great flavor of the chowder.

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Bowl of Hearty Ham Chowder with a Tomato Sandwich
Ham and Potato Chowder

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