Creamy Ham and Potato Soup

If you have a fetish for using up leftovers the way I do, then you’re probably always on the lookout for a new idea for how to turn the remains of a big dinner into something a touch more novel than “leftovers for the third night in a row.” This idea struck me during the last Christmas holidays after serving a big ham dinner for our family one night. It turned out well, so I prepared this recipe ahead, thinking some of you might enjoy trying it over the Easter holidays. Little did I know back then that none of us would be having big gatherings over Easter!! However, if you happen to serve a large roast (and that could be lamb, ham, beef, or whatever) for your Easter dinner, you might enjoy trying this recipe when you tire of traditional leftovers.

Creamy Ham and Potato Soup

Cubed ham (whatever you have leftover and haven’t frozen in bags for breakfast later)
All the gelatin left in the bottom of your roaster after baking the ham (fat skimmed off)
All the leftover mashed potatoes, or even cubed roasted potatoes, or scalloped potatoes
1 finely chopped onion (optional, be we love onions in everything; if you go this route, saute the onion for about 5 minutes in a little butter before adding all the other ingredients)
2 cups milk
2 cups water
1/2 cup flour (I add this after mixing it in a shaker with the water so it’s not lumpy)
Pepper to taste (you can also add parsley or other seasonings to taste, but beware of adding any more salt, because the ham and gelatin are both very salty. Test it first!)
Heat on the stove top until piping hot, about 10-15 minutes, stirring often so nothing sticks on the bottom. If you’ve used a lot of ham and potatoes, add more water as needed to make the soup a pleasing consistency, although it can be anywhere from pretty thin to almost stew-like.

Serve piping hot in bowls with grated cheddar cheese on top and maybe a side of garlic bread. Next time, I’m going to add a little sour cream on top too. Hope you enjoy!!

(As I said, this recipe was written up BEFORE COVID hit. It could be made with any type of roast with leftover juice and potatoes. If you’re out of fresh milk but have a little powdered milk, that can work too! If you’re out of onions but have onion powder, that works fine! Right about now, I haven’t been shopping in a month, and if that’s your situation as well, then forget the fresh garlic bread, cheese and sour cream! We don’t have an Easter egg or chocolate bunny in our house—first time in 70 years as far as I can remember. But, it brings us back to the basics: “Having food and raiment, let us be therewith be content” [1 Timothy 6:8].)



Meditating on the Commands of Christ (55): “Take No Thought for Your Life”

Some of Jesus’s commands seem impossibly hard, but others seem simply impossible. This is one of the latter! How in the world can we, as humans, actually “take no thought” about the most basic aspects of our physical lives: Food and clothing? After all, doesn’t the Bible teach us that, “having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:8)? Or, in other words, “As long as we have food and clothes, we should be satisfied” (Names of God Bible rendering).

I can get far enough in my thinking to understand that Jesus doesn’t want us to be all caught up in material possessions and to imagine that it’s possible to be content with simple food and shelter. My mother, who grew up on the western prairies with a fierce pioneer spirit, claimed as her theme songs “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.”

Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (1964)

I—on the other hand—identify more with Eliza from My Fair Lady, who sang:

“All I want is a room somewhere
Far away from the cold night air.
With one enormous chair,
Aow, wouldn’t it be loverly?”

That’s me! I could be content with a quiet corner of a small, warm home ( . . . especially if I had access to my camera and computer! 🙂 ) How about you?

I always thought contentment with “whatsoever state I’m in” (Philippians 4:11) was the goal, but Jesus calls us to something higher! He challenges us to “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matthew 6:25). If life is more than eating and the body more than clothing, then what is that “more”? What’s more for you? Got any thoughts?

I’d love to hear your response! Is there anything in life even more essential to your well being than food and shelter? What’s the essence of your life? Is there anything even better than life to you? I’ve been pondering this passage particularly in light of just returning from a cruise down the Amazon River. There is something better than life to me, and I’ll try to be ready to share it with illustrations from Amazonia by this coming Tuesday!

Texts for today: Matthew 6:25, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” and Luke 12:22-23, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

(Painting of Jesus holding a little girl by Yongsung Kim, used by permission of Havenlight.com )

Thanksgiving, Thanksgetting, or Both? (With Illustrations from India and Nepal to Give Perspective)

I have four of the world’s best daughter-in-laws, and my one and only son-in-law is right up there with the best of them too! He is warm, quiet, affectionate, generous, always helpful, devout, ingenious, artistic, and usually has a bit of a smirk on his face, which I presume is his creative imagination kicking in to add a bit of humorous (albeit silent) commentary to life.    I wouldn’t trade him for a barrel of monkeys or anything else you might offer!  All this intro is so you don’t misinterpret his wry pseudonym for Thanksgiving, which is (as you’ve probably guessed) “Thanksgetting.”   So, what are you doing for Thanksgetting tomorrow? Lord willing, we’ll do what we most often do: Gather with those of our family who are able to come and share a Thanksgiving “feast,” and then we’ll sit in a circle around a candle-lit coffee table in our living room and play “The Thankful Game.” Do you ever play that game? It’s a time of reflecting on all the blessings we’ve received over the past year from God, and we go around the circle sharing one by one, round and round until we all seem content that we’ve remembered to give thanks to God for all the most important things we’ve gotten from him. It’s really an opportunity to recognize God’s goodness in our lives and a great way to worship Him, whether you’re alone for Thanksgiving or in a big group.
However you celebrate, I hope you focus on what you’ve gotten rather than what you’ve given this year, and if it’s been a terrible year where you’ve suffered great loss, perhaps you can think about what you still have.  I have a number of friends who’ve had serious physical problems this year, and some who have lost someone precious to them, and my heart grieves for them.  Still, after visiting India and Nepal recently, I am reminded of how “good” most of us have it in America.  King David suffered terrible losses in his life, and yet he wrote beautiful psalms of praise to God for His goodness and graces.  I pray that whatever your circumstances, you’ll be able to say with David: “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116 :17, emphasis mine; notice that sometimes it is actually an act of sacrifice to believe in God, surrender to him, and find reasons to give him thanks in the midst of anguish). Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:2). Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).   And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing” (Psalm 107:22).   “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:8).