Want a dish to use up leftover ham from the holidays? Try our cheese and potato soup made with delicious real food ingredients and is creamy, cheesy, and hearty.
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Our cheese and potato soup uses pantry staples. Let's talk about some of the key ingredients.
- Meat: We used 1 ½ cups of cooked ham, finely diced.
- Vegetables: We used 3 medium potatoes that were peeled and cubed and a whole head of garlic.
- Dairy: We used 3 cups of grated smoked Gouda, and 3 cups of whole milk.
- Spices: We used cayenne pepper and white pepper.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients for our cheese and potato soup. 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 side 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Pour in the whole milk and let it heat up for 5 minutes being careful not to let it boil.
7. While the milk is heating up, combine the flour or cornstarch with the grated smoked Gouda. This helps the grated cheese from clumping.
8. 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.
9. 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 the raw flour taste.
10. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with a thick slice of rye bread.
Our recipe uses mashed potatoes instead of diced ones, 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.
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 is key. Other cheeses that are good for melting are Fontina, Gruyere, Swiss, and sharp cheddar.
Add the cheese to the pot of potato soup at a temperature lower than 150F. Use freshly grated, as the pre-grated is coated with cellulose (powdered wood pulp) that prevents it from melting properly. Last, add the cheese gradually and stir it in so your cheese melts properly.
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.
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.
- 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, and chives, or float a toast shaped like a shamrock on top.
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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.
Our cheese and potato soup was originally published on March 1, 2018.