The holidays are quickly upon us, and nothing ushers in the season quite like those luscious smells that drift through the house and draw us to the heart of our homes—the kitchen. Yams, pies, cookies and all kinds of treats tempt our tummies and make us yearn for the Big Day, but the star of the show every holiday will always be the main course. For most of you, that means you’ll be baking a turkey this Thanksgiving.

At my house, however, only a few people are fans of the fowl, so we always bake a ham instead. Everyone looks forward to those first savory bites, and most of us still enjoy some spicy morsels of ham served with all the fixings a second time around. That’s where the trouble begins. If you’ve read this column for any length of time, you know how much I hate to waste food, but seriously, how many ham sandwiches can one family eat?

You can imagine my relief when I discovered this recipe for creamy ham soup. It’s so different from the original baked ham, and its creamy goodness warms our bellies on those cold evenings of late November and early December. Combined with a crusty loaf of fresh-baked bread, this soup is the perfect solution for all that ham taking up space in the refrigerator. Even better, it will save you money by transforming the meat you’ve already purchased into an entirely new and delicious meal. Even the pickiest eaters at my house will gobble this soup down and ask for more—making it one of my favorite recipes. And so, from the heart of my home to yours, enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups water
8 baby carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 diced, peeled potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 cup cubed ham
1 cup frozen peas
1 (10 ¾ oz.) can of condensed cream of chicken soup
4 oz. Velveeta cheese

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine water, carrots, potatoes, and onion. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add peas and ham. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in soup and cheese. Cook and stir until heated. Serve hot.

Serves 6 – 8.

Note: I always increase the recipe by adding more water, carrots and potatoes—along with 2-3 cups of ham—to accommodate those hungry bellies and finish off leftover meat during the holidays.

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