Cool weather. Time for soup. This one is a variation on a recipe from the Gardner Museum Café Cookbook. Groton’s own Blood Farm ham is a salty and smoky variety – you can substitute Virginia Ham. The Blood Farm ham can be leftover baked ham (I bake it with bourbon, cloves and brown sugar) or grilled ham steak – each version imparts a slightly different flavor to the soup. If you are using grilled ham you might want to add a little extra sherry. There is room to play with the amounts of some things (I often skip the cream) but the fresh basil, parsley, peppers and mushrooms are key to the flavor of this soup.
- ¼ lb. butter (1 stick) butter
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ¾ cup minced fresh parsley
- ¼ cup minced fresh basil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 – 3 cups diced cooked ham
- 1 quart chicken stock – low sodium if canned
- 2 large sweet red peppers
- 1 pound small mushrooms, quartered
- ¾ cup dry sherry (not the supermarket kind – the liquor store kind)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans – or one 15 oz. can, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
- 1 ½ cups corn kernels (optional – increase the beans if you don’t use the corn)
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
- Sea Salt
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt half of the butter, and add the garlic and onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent, then add the parsley, basil, bay leaf and ham, then sauté another 3 minutes. Transfer to a large sauced pan or soup pot. Add the chicken stock and let it simmer while you do the next step.
Heat the rest of the butter in the sauté pan over medium heat and add the peppers. After about 5 minutes add the mushrooms. After another 5 minutes add the sherry and simmer an additional 10 minutes to dissipate the alcohol. Transfer this mixture to the soup pot
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the beans, corn and cream (if using). Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the pepper and sea salt to taste. Reheats nicely.