Mexican Ham and Squash Soup

Posted on October 1, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health, Soup Made Simple | Tags: , , , , , , |

Food - Butternut Squash and Ham SoupAt the farmer’s market Saturday I wanted bacon from my farm family meat providers.  They are all out until November.  I protested because the tomatoes are perfect now and I want the most perfect BLTs now!  So, sadly I perused the freezer and spied smoked ham.  I asked about it for tacos.  Tammera said to boil the small ham and then take it from there.

Next day I did just that.  When it reached 160º I let it cool a bit before breaking it down.  I removed the fat and bones and shredded it.  Then I tossed it with Mexican oregano, cumin, chili/garlic powders.  This became the basis for tacos with fresh avocado, cheese, and garden-fresh tomatoes.  Oh my.

After getting the meat sorted out I had some fat, bones, and cooking liquid in the pot.  Hmmm…looks like pork stock to me.  I put it all back in the pot, added water and the same spices as above.  Then I brought it to a simmer for about 30 minutes.  After cooling a bit I strained out the solids and I was left with a lovely golden, smoky broth.  I put it in the fridge.

Next day I pulled out that broth and skimmed the white creamy fat from the top (only a little, pastured animals never have excessive amounts of fat, they have the healthy kind and much smaller amounts than factory-farmed animals.)  That fat went into my soup pot with 2 chopped onions to brown and carmelize.  After scraping the brown bits up I poured in some more of the broth, added cooked and mashed butternut squash, then the rest of the broth.  I heated it through with more of the spices listed above; topped with the leftover meat and some more fresh tomatoes it made a satisfying meal all by itself.

The flavor of these two meals was the best part, but another bonus was the price.  That small ham yielded 3 taco dinners and 4 soup suppers all for $11 (meat price alone.)  I call that a bargain in all departments:  support of a local family farm, support of locally produced food, support of artisanal, small-scale pork production, cooking at home with controlled ingredients, and healthy small amounts of high-quality meat.  Voilà!

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