Slow Cooker Ham Soup with Potatoes and Kale

Slow Cooker Ham Soup with Potatoes and Kale is both easy to prepare and flavorful, thanks to the use of a slow cooker and the rich flavor that a leftover ham bone imparts.

When I talk to Kevin about my passion of food and cooking, feeding families, or even food blogging and aspects of the culture of that industry that I have ALL THE FEELINGS about, Kevin says “so why don’t you write about that?” I say “I don’t know how!” And then he usually says something along the lines of “But you just did. Write what you told me.”

I talk so much better about these things, and it feels like most things, when I’m not like “ok, let’s sit down and write about it.” When I’m just talking and having an actual conversation I can say what I want to say and say what I mean to say and clarify if the person isn’t getting it.

So, yeah, this Slow Cooker Ham Soup with Potatoes and Kale? I wasn’t going to even take pictures of it. Even though “slow cooker” and “leftover ham bone” are probably all fantastic keyword rankings, especially this time of year.

I wasn’t sure if the family, especially the kids, would even like it (much less want me to make it again). We don’t do throw-away-photo-shoot-food in this house for the sake of traffic and Google rankings or in the hopes that something might go viral on Pinterest. No matter how “in trend” the recipe is, I’m not going to share it if we don’t eat it and like it.

Am I right?

When I made this soup for dinner I expected only revolts, like full on complaining and no one wanting to eat dinner.

Soup? With ham? But why can’t we just have ham? Ok, Kendall actually did say that at first because she is all about the ham.

Since Logan was the only one who didn’t totally love the soup (he’s never loved – much less liked – soup) I was forced to reconsider my posting plans.

Because step-daughter Kendall finished her dinner in about 2.3 seconds (obviously she liked it). And step-son Kayden wanted seconds while asking if I was going to post this for work. Because Kayden tells me “I think this is my favorite soup ever and I want it for my birthday dinner” (which, by the way, is 6 months away). Madeline was bumming that she has the stomach flu because she’s so hungry and wants the soup. And because Mr. Throw Meat on the Grill with “some kind of salt blend” and serve it with “something green” (his words) liked it too.

Because of all this I think, “I guess I could photograph the leftovers…if they aren’t too ugly?

I’m sorry, what? If they aren’t too ugly? Who talks like that?

When Kayden asked for a third bowl to eat while I’m reading him Harry Potter before bed I realized that somewhere along the way, food blogging didn’t just become about if the food was good and my family liked it. For the record, I stand firm that that reasoning for posting or not posting something is completely legit. Food and recipes online became about if it looked perfect. If it photographed well. If it sounded mind-blowing creative. And I became seriously annoyed at the Internet.

Not only was I not going to post it because I didn’t think the family was going to like it. (They proved me wrong!)

But also because it was ugly and boring.

The things that I want to say about this Slow Cooker Ham Soup with Potatoes and Kale (which are all sounding way better in my head than they are on paper and I hope don’t come across like one big rant…) are that sometimes I make food that is really not pretty. It doesn’t have OH MY GOSH status in terms of creative appearance, trendiness, or ingenuity. And so I think, “this will never make it on the blog!”

This is one of those recipes and I hope you don’t judge it by how it looks or because it isn’t some fantastically amazing creative idea. It is just soup, and a relatively generic one at that. And it really isn’t particularly attractive. But it was good. My family liked it. It helped us not waste leftovers. And it made people happy.

The thing about food on the internet is that it is all about how it looks. And honestly if you ask me, some of it is really sterilized lately. It doesn’t look like real food that you feed real families. The food is styled too perfect. Maybe the veggies are arranged just so (because really do we place every leaf of kale and every dice of carrot in a bowl of soup when we serve it?).

Or it is all about the WOW factor. Crazy-over-the-top recipes created for the sole purpose of going viral that leave me going (quite honestly) WHAT THE WHAT? WHO IS GOING TO MAKE THAT?! (Only with some less nice words mixed in, but I’m committed to keeping it PG rated here).

Or if you do make it, are you seriously ever going to make it again?

What happened to sharing real recipes that we actually make for our real friends and our real family, and we make them more than once because, for real, we like them?  Not because they’re going to be all wow on Pinterest. Or because wouldn’t that look so cool?

(Hello, Easy Honey Mustard Baked Chicken that I’ve made at least 100 times already because all my people love it,  Crock Pot Mexican Chicken that I make whenever we need shredded chicken for a Mexican recipe, and 7 dozen Chocolate Chip Cookies that were devoured after my Army husband’s change of command ceremony…I’m looking at you.)

Apparently a 9 year old has figured out what the rest of us have forgotten. That what matters is if the recipe tastes good and the people you love like it or not. It shouldn’t matter if it sells well or looks pretty or goes viral on Pinterest.

If you like it, you like it, and you should share it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a good or pretty picture, or that I’m suddenly going to stop bothering to style and photograph nicely.  Just a little re-evaluating the status quo.

So, earlier this week I opened said soup leftovers that I already decided I didn’t care were now even uglier. I microwaved them, and looked for a bowl to photograph the soup in. The bowls I wanted were – par for the course at this point! – in our storage pod because I’m actually not that good at estimating what things I might need for work while our house finishes being built and we’re living in a furnished rental. I cannot wait to have all my stuff back, to unpack my new kitchen, and start cooking in it!

A little about the recipe now that I’ve gotten that off my chest. We had ham for Kendall’s birthday dinner last week. I used the ham bone to make the broth for the soup, cubed extra ham that we had frozen. Threw in some veggies and a bit of cream at the end to thicken it up. We had some Beer Batter Muffins with Caramelized Onions and Parmesan on the side to round out the meal and call it good.

Slow Cooker Ham Soup with Potatoes and Kale is good. End of story.

Slow Cooker Ham Soup with Potatoes and Kale

Yield: serves 8

Slow Cooker Ham Soup with Potatoes and Kale is both easy to prepare and flavorful, thanks to the use of a slow cooker and the rich flavor that a leftover ham bone imparts.

Ingredients:

 For the Broth

  • 1 leftover Hambone
  • 8 cups boiling Water
  • 1/2 of a Yellow Onion
  • 1 large rib Celery
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 3 stems fresh Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns

For the Soup

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme Leaves
  • 1 lb. leftover Ham, cubed
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups roughly chopped Kale Leaves, stems and ribs discarded
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 dashes Cayenne

Directions:

 For the Broth

In a slow cooker, combine the hambone, water, 1/2 yellow onion, celery, carrot, parsley, and peppercorns. Cook on high heat for 1 - 2 hours. Afterwards, strain through a fine mesh strainer, making sure to reserve the broth. Discard the onion, celery, carrot ham bone, and peppercorns. Return the broth to the slow cooker. Set aside.

For the Soup

In a large saute pan or cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and carrot and sauté for 3 - 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

Transfer the sautéed vegetables to the slow cooker. Add the potatoes, thyme, and ham. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 3 - 5 hours, or until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour and the cream together. After the veggies become tender, slowly whisk in the heavy cream and flour mixture. Stir in the kale, salt and pepper (to taste), and cayenne.

If the slow cooker insert is stovetop safe, transfer it to the stove and bring the soup to a boil, stirring periodically, until it thickens slightly. Alternatively, if the insert is not stovetop safe, you can transfer the soup to a stock pot to bring it to a boil.

Serve.