Ham and Potato Soup

This Ham and Potato Soup recipe is loaded with buttery potatoes, savory ham and cheese for a creamy, hearty, satisfying dinner the whole family will love!  

This Creamy Ham and Potato Soup recipe is hearty, rich, creamy and comforting, so easy to make, and reheats like a dream.  It’s chock full of tender, buttery potatoes, savory ham, vegetables, herbs and sharp cheddar cheese.  It’s the best way to use up leftover ham OR make it with cubed deli ham any time of the year!  This recipe is extremely versatile and pantry friendly – swap in your favorite veggies, make it with evaporated milk instead of half and half, gluten free flour, etc. Serve this Potato and Ham Soup with garlic bread and apple salad to complete the winning feast. 

We love creamy soups, from chicken pot pie soup, chicken and dumplings, creamy chicken wild rice soup, white chicken lasagna soup, potato soupcorn chowder and clam chowder and of course, this new potato and ham soup!

How to Make ham and potato soup Video

top view of ham and potato soup with vegetables
up close of ham and potato soup recipe showing how creamy it is

Ham and Potato Soup Ingredients

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients you’ll need to make the best Potato and Ham Soup recipe (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post): 

  • Ham: Any type of cubed ham will work in this recipe. If you have leftover ham from Thanksgiving or Christmas, throw it in, otherwise, head to the deli counter and have them slice any ham ¼-inch thick and finish chopping it into cubes at home.
  • Potatoes: Use Yukon gold potatoes peeled and diced into 1/2” cubes. Don’t substitute with Russet potatoes because they can fall apart and turn mealy in the soup, whereas Yukon gold potatoes remain nice and buttery.  See below for potato alternatives.
  • Mirepoix:  Yellow onion, carrots and celery are known as the holy trinity of cooking and provide a richness and depth of flavor that can’t be achieved any other way.
  • Garlic: Use 4-6 garlic cloves depending on your garlic love.
  • Red pepper flakes: This will not make the Potato and Ham Soup taste spicy, just flavorful! 
  • All-purpose flour: This helps thicken the soup by creating a roux. You may substitute with gluten free flour, if needed. 
  • Chicken broth: Take care your chicken broth is low sodium otherwise your soup will be too salty. Using low sodium broth also allows us to use chicken bouillon which amps up the flavor.
  • Chicken bouillon: Use bouillon powder, bouillon cubes or better than bouillon. Add it to the soup without dissolving in liquid first. If using cubes, you will need 2, which you crush up and then add directly to the broth.
  • Seasonings: Dried parsley, dried oregano, dried thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper season the soup to perfection.
  • Half and half:  You can create your own half and half with half cream and half milk.
  • Shredded cheddar: Please buy a block of good-quality cheddar and shred it yourself! Pre-shredded cheeses sold in bags contain anti-caking agents, which prevents the cheese from melting properly and can make your soup grainy. 
a bowl of potato and ham soup that's super creamy and cheesy

RECIPE FAQS

What Kind of Potatoes Are Best? 

Use waxy potatoes such as Yukon gold, red potatoes, Dutch baby potatoes, new potatoes or fingerling potatoes. Waxy potatoes do not absorb moisture while they cook so they retain their shape despite extended high heat. This doesn’t mean waxy potatoes aren’t melt-in-your-mouth or flavorful! They taste soft, buttery and tender without ever tasting mealy. 

Can I Use Fresh Herbs? 

I prefer dried herbs in this Cheesy Ham and Potato soup recipe because they get added to the soup at the beginning which infuses the creamy broth with flavor. You may use fresh herbs, but use three times the number of fresh herbs to dried herbs. Take care to add fresh herbs towards the end of cooking so they stay fresh and flavorful.

Can the Chicken Broth Be Substituted for Vegetable Broth? 

I do not recommend vegetable broth because it’s not as flavorful as chicken broth. That doesn’t mean you can’t use vegetable broth, but it does mean the soup will not taste as flavorful.

Can the Half and Half Be Substituted? 

Yes, in place of the half and half, you can use equal parts milk and heavy cream. Or, you may substitute the half and half with evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk).

Do the potatoes have to be peeled?

No, you don’t have to peel the potatoes, but I prefer to use peeled potatoes because the skin can sometimes be a bit tough and distract from the creamy cohesiveness of the soup.

HOW DO YOU THICKEN ham and potato soup?

Everyone has their own opinion as to how thick a soup should be. This recipe is luxuriously rich and creamy, but if you would still like it thicker, you can thicken the soup by adding flour, cornstarch or other thickeners such as mashed potatoes or beans.  Here’s how:

-Mash potatoes: Mash more of the potatoes to make it thicker.
-Puree beans: Add cannellini beans to a blender along with some of the soup. Puree until smooth to create a paste.  Stir back into the soup and warm through.
-Cornstarch:   Whisk 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch with ¼ cup broth or water until smooth then whisk it back into the soup.  Simmer for a few minutes to thicken.  Repeat if needed. 
-Flour:  Flour is half as potent as cornstarch so you will need twice as much. Remove about ½ cup soup, whisk in 2-4 tablespoons flour with a fork until smooth then whisk it back into the soup.  Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Repeat if needed

making ham and potato soup with potatoes, ham and vegetables

HOW TO MAKE Ham and Potato Soup

This recipe for Potato and Ham soup is quick and easy to prepare, the most difficult part is waiting for the potatoes to simmer! Let’s review the cooking process (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post): 

  • Step 1: Sauté the aromatics. Sauté the chopped onions, carrots, and celery in butter and olive oil until the onions are tender. Add garlic, red pepper flakes (if using), and sauté for 30 seconds.
showing how to make ham and potato soup by sautéing onions, celery and carrots in a Dutch oven
  • Step 2: Make the roux. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and cook for an additional minute while stirring to cook out the raw flour taste and smell.
showing how to make Ham and Potato Soup by making a roux by adding flour to the vegetables
  • Step 3: Add the remaining ingredients. Add the potatoes, chicken broth,  chicken bouillon, and all seasonings.
showing how to make Ham and Potato Soup by adding potatoes, herbs and chicken broth to the soup
  • Step 4: Simmer. Cover the pot to help bring it to a boil more quickly. Then, remove the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are very tender.
showing how to make Ham and Potato Soup by simmering the soup until thickened
  • Step 5: Partially mash the potatoes. Using a potato masher, mash about a third of the potatoes (don’t worry the other veggies won’t really mash that much). This makes the soup so creamy!
making ham and potato soup by mashing potatoes in the soup to make it creamy
  • Step 6: Add the ham and half and half. Stir in half and half and ham and heat through. Add cheese a handful at a time until melted.  
showing how to make Ham and Potato Soup by adding ham and half and half to the soup, followed by cheddar cheese
  • Step 7: Taste and serve. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired. I like to garnish individual bowls with more shredded cheddar and chopped green onions.  
showing how to make ham and potato soup recipe by stirring to combine

Toppings for Potato and Ham Soup

This soup tastes amazing plain, but even better with toppings!  Here are a few to try:

  • more cheese
  • green onions
  • chives
  • parsley
  • sour cream
  • crackers
  • croutons
  • bacon bits
  • Scrape up the golden bits. After you cook the veggies in flour, there will be golden bits on the bottom of the pan – these are flavor gold!  Make sure to scrape up the bits when you add the broth.
  • Don’t forget to stir. The soup can stick and burn while it simmers due to the roux, so make sure you are stirring every few minutes.
  • Cook the potatoes until tender. By using Yukon Gold potatoes instead of Russets, you don’t need to worry about them falling apart or overcooking, but you want to make sure they are melt-in-your mouth tender and not remotely crunchy.
  • Add the cheese last.  The cheese should be added gradually after the soup has been removed from the heat.  If the broth is too hot, the dairy separates and becomes grainy
  • Consistency. You can make this soup more or less “chunky” or more or less creamy.  As written, this soup is very thick and creamy. For a less chunky soup, simply add additional broth or half and half at the end of cooking. 
  • Be prepared to add additional liquid. The soup will thicken as it sits, so you may need to add a splash of additional broth or half and half if not immediately serving or when reheating.
top view of serving ham and potato soup garnished by parsley

  • Use a ham bone:  If you have a ham bone, let it gently simmer in 4-5 cups of water for a few hours, until it reduces. Use some of the ham broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Serve it in a bread bowl:  This is a fun and delicious twist, with a beautiful presentation!
  • Add vegetables: Corn, mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower zucchini green beans, spinach, peas, etc. would all be tasty.  Keep in mind different vegetable cooking times and add to the soup accordingly.
  • Add beans:   Substitute some of the potatoes with cannellini beans or another favorite bean.
  • Spice it up: Add additional red pepper flakes for a kick.
  • Make it gluten free:  Use gluten free flour.
  • Make it low carb:  Swap the potatoes for about 3 cups of cauliflower chopped into bite size pieces. Cauliflower doesn’t take long to cook, so add the last 5 minutes of cooking. 
  • Chicken variations:  Swap the ham for rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken.  You can also add raw chicken thighs (I like to sear first) or chicken breasts to the soup to cook with the potatoes.  They will take about 15 minutes to cook, remove and shred when tender, then add back to the soup at the end. 
  • Ham and Barley Soup:  Swap the potatoes for pearl barley.  Simmer for about 30 minutes total, which means you may need to add an additional cup of broth because more liquid will evaporate while cooking.
  • Ham and Quinoa Soup: For a higher protein option, swap the potatoes for about ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained and simmer for about 25 minutes.
  • Use sausage:  Brown kielbasa, Polish sausage or chicken sausage whole then remove to a plate. Slice or chop into bite size pieces then add back to the soup with the broth to simmer with the potatoes.  You can also brown Italian sausage and simmer it with the soup.
top view of a bowl of potato and ham soup
a bowl of potato and ham soup that's super creamy and cheesy

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Ham and Potato Soup

This Creamy Ham and Potato Soup recipe is hearty, rich, creamy and comforting, so easy to make, and reheats like a dream.  It’s chock full of tender, buttery potatoes, savory ham, vegetables, herbs and sharp cheddar cheese.  It’s the best way to use up leftover ham OR make it with cubed deli ham any time of the year!  This recipe is extremely versatile and pantry friendly – swap in your favorite veggies, make it with evaporated milk instead of half and half, gluten free flour, etc. Serve this Potato and Ham Soup with garlic bread and apple salad to complete the winning feast. 
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Total Time: 45 mins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2” cubes
  • 4 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried thyme, salt, pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

ADD LATER

  • 1 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups half and half or evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped ham (1/4-inch chop)

GARNISH

  • chopped green onions
  • freshly grated cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Melt butter in olive oil in a large soup pot/Dutch oven over medium heat-high. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook until the onions are tender, about 7 minutes.
  • Add garlic, red pepper (if using) and sauté 30 seconds. Sprinkle in flour and cook an additional 1 minute while stirring (it will be thick).
  • Add the potatoes and all remaining soup ingredients (up to “Add Later).
  • Cover and bring to a boil, then uncover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender, stirring often so the bottom doesn’t burn.
  • Using a potato masher, mash about 1/4- ⅓ of the potatoes (don't worry the other veggies won't really mash that much).
  • Stir in half and half and ham and heat through.
  • Remove the soup from the heat, then add the cheese a handful at a time until melted. Discard bay leaves. Taste and season salt/pepper to taste as desired.

Video

Notes

  • Ham: Any type of cubed ham will work in this recipe. If you have leftover ham from Thanksgiving or Christmas, throw it in, otherwise, head to the deli counter and have them slice any ham ¼-inch thick and finish chopping it into cubes at home.
  • Chicken broth: Take care your chicken broth is low sodium otherwise your soup will be too salty. Using low sodium broth also allows us to use chicken bouillon which amps up the flavor.

Make Ahead and Storage Instructions

  • Make ahead: The flavors of this Cheesy Potato and Ham soup recipe only get better the next day, so it’s great to make 100% ahead of time.  You can also chop the onions, carrots, celery, ham and potatoes ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.  The chopped potatoes will need to be stored submerged in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator to prevent oxidization (from turning brown).  You can also shred the cheese and prep any toppings ahead of time.
  • To store: Let the Ham and Potato Soup cool to room temperature, then cover and store in your Dutch oven or transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze: As a general rule of thumb, creamy, cheesy soups do not freeze well because the texture can become unpleasantly grainy as the dairy and fat separate. You can still freeze the soup with these expectations, or swap the half and half for evaporated milk and omit the cheese until reheating.  Freeze for up to 3 months.

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12 Comments

  1. Teresa says

    Definitely gonna make this again!
    Delicious! I put smoked cheddar and what added flavor….mmmmm good

    • Jen says

      That’s awesome you made it already! I’m so pleased it was a hit and I love the use of smoked cheddar!

  2. John Lubeck says

    As the atmospheric river was just beginning to hit the west coast last night, used half a large ham steak to make this recipe. Absolutely scrumptious! I think more than 1 1/2 cups of small cubed ham would be even better and having it with some rustic croutons and a baguette or two would be absolute perfection! Didn’t have half and half so substituted milk and few tablespoons of butter.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much John, I’m so pleased you loved it! Smart substitution for the half and half!

  3. Krista says

    Made this tonight and my whole family loved it!! Thanks for the tasty recipe!!

    • Jen says

      I’m so glad, thanks Krista!

  4. Christina says

    Can I leave the cheese out. If so what can I substitute.

    • Jen says

      Yes, just leave it out, no problem!

  5. Nicole says

    This recipe is great!!! The soup was so flavorful! We will definitely make again.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Nicole, I’m so pleased it will be on repeat!

  6. Susan says

    I made this soup as written and it was absolutely delicious! Thank you for this great recipe

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Susan! I’m so glad you loved it!

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