Friday, January 11, 2013

Back to School Night

Potato, Leek, Broccoli, and Cheese Soup with Ham and Cheese Melts
The holidays are over. January is here which brings an end to the parties, sleeping in, and general laziness associated with "winter break." The combination of cold weather and a busy work schedule makes me crave a quick, easy, and hot dinner when I get home. This is one of my absolute favorite mid-winter meals when it gets dark around 4 pm and all I want to do is cuddle up under a blanket.


Ingredients
- 1 lb. broccoli florets
- 2 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1" chunks
- 3 large leeks, trimmed, rinsed, and chopped
- 1 qt. chicken broth
- 4 c. shredded baby Swiss cheese, divided
- 1 c. heavy cream
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 3 oz. diced Canadian bacon
- 2 Tbsp, minced chives
- 1 ciabatta loaf, split lengthwise, then cut into 4 equal portions
- 1/3 c. mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp. butter

In a large, heavy soup pot melt butter over medium high. Add leeks and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally until the leeks become tender and fragrant. Add chicken broth and potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. When the broth reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes become soft.

While the potatoes are simmering, prepare the cheese toasts. In a medium bowl combine ham, mayonnaise, chives, and half of the shredded Swiss cheese. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and the spread ham mixture in equal portions on sliced ciabatta bread. Arrange ciabatta slices on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in a 350˚ oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starts to bubble.


Once the potatoes are soft, add broccoli to the soup, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes, until the broccoli is tender and bright green. Remove soup from heat and slowly stir in remaining shredded cheese and cream. Sprinkle with paprika and additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with prepared ham and cheese toasts for dipping!


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