Ham, Leek and Vegetable Chowder

Winter weather is here. It is cold and gloomy out, which means it is perfect weather for a thick, warm, chunky chowder. I love chowders too. All kinds. They are probably my favorite types of soups.

What is the difference between a soup and a chowder? While soups can be thin and light, a chowder is characterized by being rich and thick. Like stew, it contains large chunks of meat or seafood and vegetables, notably potatoes. It also almost always has either bacon, ham or pork added as well. What is the difference between a chowder and a stew? They are both filled with big chunks of meats or fish and/or vegetables, but a chowder, for the most part has a milky or creamy base with butter and is often thickened by a roux, whereas most stews do not and do not contain thickeners either. And lastly, what is the difference between a chowder and a bisque? They are both creamy, but a bisque is usually smooth and silky and is a lighter soup, whereas a chowder is chunky and meaty (or fishy) and can often be a meal in and of itself.

The word chowder is a corruption of the French word chaudière (“cauldron”), and chowder may have originated among Breton fishermen who brought the custom to Newfoundland, whence it spread to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and New England.

Larry wanted a ham for his birthday dinner, so I cooked a big ham. Well, there are only the two of us, so a big ham goes a long way, and many other things are made with the leftovers. This time, it was a big pot of ham, leek and vegetable chowder. I served it with my roasted vegetable galette and it was perfect for a cold night. Roasted Vegetable Galette

I loaded this delicious chowder with ham, leeks, potatoes and vegetables. I like to cut them all into nice, big bite-sized chunks too so you can see what you are getting in every spoonful.

Ham, Leek and Vegetable Chowder

Look at this carrot. It looks like it’s alive.

4-5 cups cooked ham, diced medium

2 large potatoes, diced

4-5 carrots, diced

1 large onion, diced

2 cups broccoli florets

4-5 celery stalks, diced

1-1 1/2 cups leeks, sliced thin

2 TBSP garlic

salt & pepper to taste

6 TBSP butter

olive oil

1 cup flour

6-8 cups ham or chicken stock

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Make a roux in a large pot with the butter, oil and flour. You want the roux to be a fairly light colored roux. Do not burn it or get it too dark. Stir constantly until it thickens.

Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the roux is the color and consistency you want, then add the onions, celery and carrots and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the ham, broccoli, stock and seasonings, cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cream and the leeks. Continue to cook for an additional 30-40 minutes, stirring often. Adjust the seasonings as needed.

When it is ready, you can make a meal of it all on its own, or pair it up with something else on the side. A galette or your favorite bread is a perfect accompaniment to this delicious chowder. It will definitely stick to your ribs and help warm you up from the inside out. It is the perfect comfort food for a cold winter’s night.

Stay warm, stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for over 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

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