Thanksgiving First Course: Soup

Time seems to pass by so quickly. It seems like only last week that the themes of my recipes would occasionally have to do with outdoor grilling. And now we are in a serious countdown to one of the best culinary holidays of the year, Thanksgiving.

Each week, until Thanksgiving, I'll be giving you some tips and recipes to help you make your holiday celebration the finest ever. Even though Thanksgiving lends itself to serving some of the same family favorites year after year, most of us are looking for a couple of new dishes, or improvements on our standards.

Let's begin this week with a recipe for our first course, soup. The nice thing about soup is that we can serve it for our Thanksgiving dinner, and we can serve it all winter long. We can make our soup three or more days in advance, refrigerating or freezing until we need it. There is no reason to use store-bought soup when it can be so easy to make your own.

Just like any recipe be sure to gather all your ingredients together fully prepared for cooking, slicing, dicing, measuring etc., and layout all of the utensils you're going to need.

Ham and Spinach Tomato Soup

Serves 12

1 Tbl vegetable oil
1 pound ham, buy a pound of your favorite ham at your deli counter and have it sliced thick, lay it out on your cutting board and chop it until it is minced
2 medium yellow onions, small dice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
8 oz fresh baby spinach, minced
1 1/2 Tbl fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tbl fresh parsley, chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
7 cups chicken stock, low sodium
2 cups beef broth, low sodium
6 cups red potatoes, small dice
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce, use more if your personal taste allows
salt to taste

Place your beef and chicken stock in a large pot and begin to heat, while this is heating take your soup pot and begin to cook your onions.

Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot, add the onions and sweat until they are soft and translucent, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic for the last two minutes while cooking the onions. Add the ham and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes. Add the spinach and toss continuously until wilted. Add the herbs and tomatoes with juice, hot stock, and red potatoes. Bring this to a simmer and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until potatoes become just tender. Stir in the black pepper and Tabasco. Taste and determine if you need to add any salt, if you do, add some now to your own personal pleasure.

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