Another Monday is here. Another weekend blew past far too quickly. I keep waiting for life to slow down– just a bit to let me catch my breath– but with two small children I’m trying to accept the fact that it’s not going to happen. I know, I know. It’s only going to get busier as they both grow and start school activities. Even after a few years, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the pace of it all. I think that is one of the reasons I enjoy being in my kitchen for those short stretches of free time. It’s calm. And I get to determine the speed of most things. There’s a relaxing orderliness to cooking and baking that I can control. Of course, it’s also rewarding to get to sit down at the dinner table with my family every night. So those brief, tranquil cooking times in the kitchen have the added benefit of putting life into perspective. It’s these little things that help paint the much bigger picture.
During one of my sabbaticals to the kitchen the other day, I made this soup. I was interested by the fact that it combines two atypical soup ingredients. Apples and mustard. Intriguing, eh? I thought it would all come together when I read about the smoked ham shank. And my hunch was right, though that doesn’t do this recipe justice. I figured it would be good, but I wasn’t prepared for just how delicious– and unique– this soup really is. I’ve never had another with flavors even remotely similar to this one. And that’s a good thing. It wasn’t overly sweet, despite containing both apple cider and chopped apples. As for the Dijon mustard– wow! It’s the star here, adding a brilliant tang. And though making the ham stock took a few steps, it was so worth it. It’s a perfectly salted and smokey canvas for the other ingredients. Once you have the stock prepared, the soup comes together in minutes, so it’s easy to prepare ahead of time. If you get a chance to sneak away to your kitchen this week, make this soup. I was so happy I did, and you will be too.
The Recipe: Smoked Ham Shank and Apple Soup with Dijon
For the Stock:
1 1/2 pounds smoked ham shank
2 3/4 cups apple cider
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 large white onion, rough chopped
For the Soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
7-8 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 large white onion, chopped
4-5 medium yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2-3 tablespoons creamy Dijon mustard
3 tart apples, cored and peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste
To make the stock: In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine the ham shank, 3 quarts water, apple cider, garlic cloves, and 1/2 white onion. Simmer over medium heat for about 3 hours or until the ham is tender and falls off of the bone. Remove the ham shank from the stockpot and place on a plate, pull the meat off of the bone and set aside; discard the bone. Discard the garlic and onion. Reserve the cooking liquid — you will need two quarts. Skim the fat off of the ham stock using a ladle. Discard the fat.
To make the soup: Heat the olive oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots, parsnips, onions, and garlic and cook a few minutes until soft and tender. Add the potatoes, garlic, apples, ham, and reserved liquid and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the mustard and season with salt, if necessary. Enjoy!
So glad that you stopped by Relishing It today — hope you enjoy this soup!
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