Sunday, January 15, 2017

Split Pea and Ham Soup

Whenever I have a glazed bone-in ham, usually once a year right around Easter, I like to use the leftovers to make split pea soup. But split pea soup can be made anytime, especially when it's cold outside. If you have leftover ham of any sort (except for the thinly sliced variety, which will become flavorless after prolonged cooking) or a smoked ham hock, by all means make this super easy and super delicious home made soup. For more flavor, I like to saute all the veggies (onion, carrots, celery and garlic) first before adding the ham and water. No need to use chicken stock as the ham itself will create a flavorful broth, and no need to blend the mixture in the end, as the peas and potatoes will cook down to a medium-thick consistency on their own, while maintaining some texture from the diced veggies.

1 lb. split green peas, rinsed and picked through
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 lb. smoked picnic ham (bone-in, if you have it) - leftovers work great
2 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled & diced
3 quarts (12 cups) water
1 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Rinse the split peas in a colander and pick through to remove any stones. Leave in the colander and set aside.

2. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large Dutch oven or enameled cast iron pan over high heat. Saute the chopped onion, carrots, celery and garlic until softened but not browned. Season with salt and pepper.  Add the ham, bone-in and/or any pieces you have from leftovers and saute briefly.

3. Add the bay leaves, thyme, potatoes, water, 1 tsp. sugar, pinch of black pepper and salt (do not oversalt at this point since the ham will release salt into the broth). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the peas are very soft.

4. Remove the ham to a chopping board and let sit until cool enough to handle. Cut the ham meat into  1/2" cubes and return back to the soup. Taste the soup and season with extra salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in a pinch of cayenne pepper before serving.

Optional Garnishes: Chopped scallions or chives, chopped boiled eggs, shredded cheese, bacon bits, croutons, creme fraiche or sour cream

 Rinse the split peas.

 Just happened to have some fresh English peas so added them to the soup.

 Smoked picnic ham pieces.

 Diced carrots, celery, potatoes, garlic and onions.

 Saute the veggies.

 Add the ham.

 Add potatoes, bay leaves, thyme, pinch of sugar, salt and water.

 Bring to a boil.

Skim off any foam from the top. Cover and simmer over low heat 1 1/2 hours.

 Remove the ham from the soup, remove from the bone, and chop. Add the ham back to the soup. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne, according to your taste.

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