Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Hammy Mac'n'Cheese and Garden Fresh Tomato Soup

Ham. Mac and Cheese. Tomato Soup.

The trifecta of yummy. They harmonize like a bunch of carolers, don't they?

I had lots of leftover Christmas ham, some elbow macaroni, milk, and lots and lots of tomatoes from the garden. Picked up a block of medium cheddar cheese, and a great 2DG experience was on the way!

Now, I need to 'fess up here. I made the Hammy Mac'n'Cheese Tuesday night using the leftover Christmas ham. I used Elise's Simply Recipes version of Macaroni and Cheese, and it calls for a really interesting way to make it. Basically, you cook the elbow macaroni in milk, using about 2 cups of milk for each cup of macaroni. Sounds odd, I know, but I brought the milk just to a boil, put in the macaroni and simmered it for about 12 minutes, and diced up about 2 cups of ham. At about the 10 minute mark, I melted about 4 Tbs of butter and then added about 2 cups of shredded cheddar and grated some nutmeg and a little pepper. When it was good and melted and gooey, I added the ham and the cheese mix to the macaroni and stirred it all together. A good sprinkle of bread crumbs on top, then into the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. It was quite tasty!

On Wednesday, I worried that the cold snap we are having here in Orlando would be bad for all the tomatoes still on the plants out in the garden, so I went out and picked any that were at least beginning to turn pink. I came in with  1.25 lbs. of Juliets and 5.50 lbs of Romas. So...the ripest ones from that batch and the ones I already had in the house became soup, to go along with the Hammy Mac'n'Cheese.

I diced a medium/large onion and about 3 cloves of garlic. Browned these in some olive oil until they were soft, added the diced tomatoes. I didn't dice all of them...maybe a few pounds.  I added about a cup of chicken stock, and then dissolved about a Tbsp of cornstarch in about a half cup of stock and set it aside. I let the soup simmer for a little while, then stirred in the reserved stock/cornstarch and some chopped fresh oregano, marjoram and basil. (I saved a little basil for a garnish.) I let it simmer on low for half an hour or so, then turned it off and let it cool a little bit before carefully purreeing it with a stick blender. I thought I'd need to strain it, but I didn't, so it was a slightly thickened.

I served it garnished with some ribboned basil and diced tomatoes. And the Hammy Mac'n'Cheese, of course!


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