I know people come to Arizona, especially in the winter, for all the sunshine. And yes, sunshine is great–good for your mood, you can do fun stuff outdoors, Vitamin D and all that jazz–and generally, I enjoy living in a place that boasts 300 days of sunshine a year. But having lived in the Phoenix area my whole life, I have a confession to make: sometimes I get sick of sunshine. Sometimes I feel like the Marvelous Mad Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone:
…minus the red splotches and the purple hair. I can remember one particular summer as a teenager opening my blinds every morning hoping for foul weather and going, “Oh. Sunshine again.” with the extreme contempt only a teenager can muster. I know, I know, people from the East Coast are coming for me with their torches and pitchforks right now. We all need a little variety in our lives, though, right? ….right?
So when a rainy day like today comes around like a magical weather unicorn, I try to savor it. (BTW, am I the only one who’s starting to get a little freaked out by that Madam Mim gif on endless repeat? Feel free to scroll it out of your screen.) This morning I had planned to finally go out and get myself a membership at a local yoga studio like a good new year’s resolver, but instead I found myself curled up on the couch wondering which kind of herbal tea to brew. It’s just that kind of stay-at-home rainy day.
A quick aside: truth be told, my guilt over not going to yoga got the better of me and I ended up doing this crazy 20-minute high intensity interval training Youtube video:
All I have to say is it left me like…
Anyway, if a rainy day doesn’t call for signing up for a yoga membership (or torturing yourself with cheerful bikini body Youtube workout instructors), it DOES call for soup. That we can all agree on. There’s a reason that old Campbell’s commercial where the snowman melting into a kid when he eats soup was such a classic:
Because soup is cozy and comforting, warming you up from the inside out–the gastronomical equivalent of a fleece blanket. If you don’t love soup on a chilly, rainy day, you may be a robot. So I have for you today one of our family’s favorite “fleece blanket” soups (no actual fleece involved). We have enjoyed this with crusty bread as a light dinner on more than one Christmas Eve, as well as numerous other chilly-day occasions. I suppose you could call it a chowder, with its creamy texture punctuated by chunks of ham and potato, dotted with pops of yellow corn. My 8-year-old, who typically turns up his nose at leftovers, literally jumped up and down with excitement when I offered him leftovers of this. The kid’s no dummy. This is an awesome soup.
And with that, I’m going to sit back and enjoy the rain a little bit longer and ponder what soup to make tonight.
Ham and Potato Soup
(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)
3 1/2 c. peeled and diced potatoes
1/3 c. celery, chopped
1/3 c. onion, diced
1 c. cooked ham, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
3 1/4 c. chicken broth
salt to taste
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 c. frozen corn
5 Tbsp. butter
5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 c. milk
Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish, if desired
- In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, combine potatoes, celery, onion, ham, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (The amount of salt will vary depending on how salty your broth is. I say err on the side of caution with the salt.) Add frozen corn and cook until heated through, another 3 minutes or so.
- In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Slowly add milk, stirring to prevent lumps from forming. Continue to cook and stir another 4-5 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick enough for a fork to leave a defined trail.
- Add milk mixture to broth mixture and cook until completely heated through. Garnish with shredded cheddar, if desired.
Serves 6 as a main dish, 8 as a first course.