When the heat of summer passes and the first waves of crisp autumn air arrive, all thoughts in our household turn to soup. We are a soup-loving family and this Cheesy Ham and Bacon Chowder is one of our favorites, especially when it’s made with Petit Jean Meats ham and bacon.
The full-bodied flavor of the ham and bacon shine through the richness of the cheese and cream making this soup a full, filling meal especially welcomed on those days and nights when a chill is in the air. The fact that is uses leftover ham is a real plus in my book.
For variation, replace the ham with cubed Petit Jean Meats™ smoked sausage, adding a few flakes of red pepper just to give it a little extra pizzazz.
- 8 slices Petit Jean Meats™ hickory smoked bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled.2 slices reserved as garnish
- ⅔ cup melted unsalted butter, plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1½ cups finely chopped onions
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced or diced
- 3 Tablespoons minced poblano pepper, optional
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups water
- 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 packet powdered ham seasoning, optional (I use Goya™.)
- 2 Tablespoons Liquid Smoke™
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound Velveeta™, cubed (The 2% can be used, but I prefer the regular for a creamier consistency.)
- 2 cups ½-inch diced potatoes (I do not peel mine.)*
- 1½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- ⅔ cup flour (I prefer Wondra™.)
- 2-3 cups cubed, leftover Petit Jean Meats™ hickory smoked ham
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chives, as garnish
- Freshly grated extra sharp Cheddar as garnish
- In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; set aside.
- Add 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter to bacon fat in skillet.
- Add onions, celery, celery and poblano pepper. Sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.
- Add in garlic and sauté about 2 minutes.
- Move vegetable mixture to a large stock pot; add in water, chicken broth, ham seasoning, Liquid Smoke, 6 slices crumbled bacon thyme and bay leaves.
- Bring to a slow boil and boil gently for 10-15 minutes; reduce heat to medium low. Add in cubed Velveeta™, stirring until cheese is melted.
- Add in diced potatoes and corn kernels. Allow to simmer 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
- Whisk together ⅔ cup melted unsalted butter, cream, evaporated milk and flour. Remove ½ cup of the soup liquid and whisk into flour mixture.
- Slowly stir cream mixture into stock pot, stirring constantly until mixture is incorporated. Allow to thicken slightly before adding ham.
- Check potatoes for doneness by inserting a fork into a piece. It should insert easily. Do not overcook as the potatoes will fall apart.
- Taste test and adjust seasonings. Remove bay leaves and thyme stems prior to serving.
- Serve garnished with crumbled bacon, shredded Cheddar and chopped chives.
Growing up cooking at the knees of two grandmothers who fed large extended families and fed them well, Debbie Arnold early on developed a passion for creativity in the kitchen. A self-professed cookbook addict, food magazine junkie and Arkansas lover, she began her blog in 2008 as a way of bringing all of these together in a record for family and friends. She serves as an administrator for Arkansas Women Bloggers after recently retiring from a career in education. She and her husband, Circuit Judge Gary M. Arnold split their time between their homes in Central and Northwest Arkansas. When not traveling, cooking or blogging, she spends time growing heirloom tomatoes in her hobby garden, down from 33 varieties in 2007 to only five last year – but she’s reconsidering that. You may find her there with dirt under her fingernails and pearls around her neck.
Debbie is a member of the Petit Jean Meats Blue Diamond Club. A group of dedicated ambassadors who share their love of Petit Jean Meats with the world.