Want a soup to use up leftover ham from the holidays? Try our smoky cheese and potato soup. It's creamy, thick, and full of smoky Gouda cheese and country smoked ham.
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What type of potato is best for mashed potatoes?
This recipe uses mashed potatoes instead of diced, so you'll want to use Russet or Yukon Gold, as they both have a high starch content. Since the starch from the potatoes is the main thickening agent, you'll want potatoes that are starchy.
Since most people don't have leftover potatoes hanging out in their fridge, our recipe shows you how to make the mashed potatoes too.
How should you cut potatoes for this recipe?
- Start by scrubbing and peeling the potatoes.
- Cut each potato in half lengthwise.
- Slice each half into ¼-inch pieces.
- Rotate the potato and slice in ¼-inch pieces.
- Divide the pile of sliced potatoes in half.
- Put each pile in one layer on the cutting board.
- Cut into cubes.
- If not using right away, put in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from turning pink.
What cheese is best for this recipe?
The best cheese for melting is one that is high in moisture and has a low melting point. If you use Gouda, you'll want it to be smoked for the best flavor. Use good quality smoked Gouda, because that flavor key.
Other cheeses that are good for melting are Fontina, Gruyere, Swiss, and sharp cheddar.
Why does cheese clump in soup?
Have you ever wondered why sometimes your cheese clumps when it's added to soup? There is a scientific reason. If the temperature is above 150F, the heat will break down the protein bonds in the cheese and will allow too much moisture to escape.
Cheese needs to be added to soup that is less than 150F. To do this, it's best to have it simmering at a medium low or low temperature on your stove top. If you want to be extra cautious, you can use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature before adding.
Another reason why it clumps is the cheese used is the pre-grated kind from the grocery store. Instead, use freshly grated, as the pre-grated is coated with cellulose (powdered wood pulp) that will prevent it from melting properly.
The last reason why your cheese clumps is it was added all at once before stirring. Instead add your it gradually and stir it in so your cheese melts properly.
What stops grated cheese from sticking together?
If you like the convenience of pre-grated cheese, but don't like the food-grade cellulose that's in there, make your own pre-grated cheese. It's super easy.
Grate the cheese and place it in a large bowl. Sprinkle on flour or cornstarch and use, or store in a zip top freezer bag and store in the fridge or freezer.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Grate the smoked Gouda and cube the leftover country smoked ham.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut off the top of a head of garlic and remove the outer skins. Place the garlic head cut size up and drizzle olive oil on top.
Cover the oven proof ramekin with foil and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.
Remove the foil. If necessary, bake for another 5 minutes to get a nice golden brown color. Cool before removing the garlic from the skin.
Put the cubed Russet potatoes in a pot of cold water.
Over medium heat, bring to a boil, then add 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir it in until the salt dissolves.
Lower the heat to medium low, place the lid on the Dutch oven askew, and cook for another 4 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse with cold water.
Place the cooked potatoes back into the Dutch oven and mash with a potato masher until smooth.
Remove the potatoes from the pot and put in a bowl. You'll need 1 ½ cups of packed mashed potatoes for the soup. Wash and dry the pot.
Over medium heat, heat up one tablespoon of olive oil, then add the cubed ham and the white pepper and cayenne. Cook the ham and spices for two minutes while stirring.
Pour in the whole milk and let it heat up for 5 minutes being careful not to let it boil.
While the milk is heating up, combine the flour or cornstarch with the grated smoked Gouda. This helps the grated cheese from clumping.
Once the roasted garlic has cooled, use a small spoon to remove each clove from the skin. Cut or mash up the roasted garlic on the cutting board.
Add the roasted garlic to the mashed potatoes. You should have 1 ½ cups of packed mashed potatoes.
Add the mashed potatoes in a spoonful at a time.
Over medium heat, whisk in the mashed potatoes, to make it smooth. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. It will start to thicken from the potato starch.
Lower the heat to medium low, and add the grated smoked Gouda a little at a time while stirring to ensure it doesn't clump. Cook for a few minutes on medium low heat to get rid of raw flour taste.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with a thick slice of rye bread.
- Want to add more veggies? Try broccoli, kale, chard, or spinach.
- Want to use a different meat? Try crumbled smoky bacon.
- Want to use a different cheese? Try smoked cheddar.
- Want to make it creamy? Use cream cheese, sour cream, or heavy cream.
- Want to use other spices? Try turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, or Tabasco.
- Want to use other fats? Try butter or bacon fat.
- Want to use a different potato? Try Yukon gold.
- Don't have any leftover ham? Use convenient cubed ham or ham steaks.
- Don't want to use flour? Try using cornstarch, you'll get the same results.
- Want a different garnish? Try crumbled bacon, grated cheese, scallions, chives, or float a toast shape like a shamrock on top.
- Emeril Lagasse Dutch Oven: this heavy-bottomed pot is our favorite for making soup.
- Potato Masher: definitely an important tool for quickly making mashed potatoes.
- Colander: this large stainless steel colander has a base so it sits in the sink.
- Set of 3 Whisks: get a perfectly smooth soup with these great whisks.
- Box Grater: we love this sturdy box grater for grating cheese and veggies.
Try these other leftover ham soup recipes for a bowl of deliciousness.
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Smoky Cheese and Potato Soup
- 1 head garlic, about 9 cloves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 3 cups smoked Gouda, grated (7 oz)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cup cooked ham, finely diced
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
- 3 cups whole milk
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Cut ¼ inch off the top of the head of garlic and remove the outer skins, keeping the head intact. Place cut side up in a small ovenproof bowl and drizzle the olive oil on top. Cover the bowl with foil and place on a small cookie sheet to make it easier to remove from the oven. Bake for 40 minutes. Once cool, remove the cooked cloves and finely chop them.
- Put the diced potatoes into a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, then add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir until the salt is dissolved. Lower heat to a simmer, and cook until fork tender. Drain and mash the potatoes, stir in the chopped roasted garlic, and set aside. You'll need 1 ½ cups of packed mashed potatoes. Wash and dry the pot.
- Toss the grated smoked Gouda with two tablespoons of flour.
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, then add the ham, cayenne pepper, and white pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour the milk into the pot and let it heat for about 5 minutes or until it is hot, being careful to not let it boil. Gradually whisk in the garlic mashed potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are heated through and the soup has thickened from the potato starch, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in the grated cheese and flour mixture. Cook for a few minutes, so the cheese is melted and the flour is cooked a bit to get rid of the raw flour taste.
- Allow the soup to cool for 5 minutes to thicken before garnishing with fresh parsley.
- Butter or bacon fat are other good choices for fat.
- Use Yukon gold potatoes as a substitute.
- Use convenient cubed ham or ham steaks if you don't have any leftover ham.
- Using cornstarch, you'll get the same results as flour for thickening.
- Try crumbled bacon, grated cheese, scallions, chives, or float a toast shape like a shamrock on top for St. Patrick's Day if you would like different options for garnishes.
This recipe was originally published on March 1, 2018.