With Mother’s Day but a few days away, I’ve read a number of posts featuring recipes for a variety of dishes, running the full gamut from savory to sweet. Not to take anything away from these beautiful posts, but I’ve chosen a different path. You see, so far I’ve shared a number of soup-related posts. Each was often described in terms of its use for members of my family. This soup nursed me back to health, that one nursed Sis; this was our New Year’s Day lunch, these took turns as lunch on cold Winter’s days; and, always, Dad was there to enjoy the salad Mom prepared using the boiled meats, similar to a bollito misto. Notice that Mom was never mentioned, other than as cook for these fantastic dishes. Sure, she enjoyed each soup but none were her favorite. No, Mom’s favorite, not so coincidentally, is today’s featured soup, split pea.
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As much as she enjoyed split pea soup, Mom rarely prepared it. If my memory is correct — something that becomes less likely with each passing day — Mom and I were the only ones to like this soup. The rest, at best, endured it. Not only that but we rarely had baked ham for dinner. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, our holiday meals were pretty much decided and ham just didn’t make the cut. Besides, I don’t think that Dad was at all interested in baked ham, for I cannot remember it ever being served on a Sunday or any other night that Dad was home for dinner. So, with ham being served so rarely, there were no ham leftovers and, consequently, no split pea soup. I know my vegan and vegetarian friends will take issue with what I’m about to write but here it is. You must have ham to make good split pea soup. Mom said so.
Though it’s true that we might not have had it often, Mom and I still did enjoy our split pea soup. She usually served it when it was just the two of us for lunch and it became something of a special treat. Later, after I moved away, whenever I told her that I was going to roast a ham — or had just done so — she would ask if I was going to make split pea soup, asking for each and every detail of the recipe. And more than once I brought a frozen ham bone home to Michigan with me, made a pot of split pea soup, and left it for her, safely stored in her freezer. So, this Sunday, while many will honor their Mom with a homemade breakfast in bed or a fantastic brunch at a favorite restaurant, I’ll remember mine with a bowl of split pea soup for lunch.
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Like so many of the recipes I post, today’s is a work in progress. Over the years it has evolved into a two-step process. In the first, a stock is prepared that becomes the base for the second step. It’s not at all complicated but it does take a bit more time than the standard way of preparing split pea soup. I think you’ll find, though, that the additional flavor in the soup is well worth the extra time required.
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Split Pea Soup Recipe
- 1 ham bone, some meat left on
- 2 partially cooked, smoked ham hocks
- 2 onions, quartered
- 4 carrots, quartered
- 4 celery stalks leaves attached, quartered
- parsley stems
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 quarts (3.8 l) water
- 2 lb (908 g) dried split peas
- 3 to 4 quarts (2.85 to 3.8 l) ham stock
- 3 or 4 carrots, diced or sliced, as preferred
- 8 oz (227 g) roasted ham, cubed — more or less, to taste
- ham removed from bone, trimmed & chopped
- meat from ham hocks, trimmed & chopped
- salt & pepper, to taste
- croutons for serving (see Notes)
- For the stock
- Put all the stock’s ingredients into a large, heavy bottomed pot, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a low simmer.
- Continue simmer for 2 hours, skimming surface foam occasionally, as needed.
- After 2 hours, remove meat from pot and reserve. Pour stock through a fine mesh sieve to remove remaining vegetables and other bits, resulting in a clean stock. Reserve.
- When cool enough to handle, trim the meat from the bones and chop into bite-sized pieces. Cover and reserve.
- For the soup:
- Add all the soup’s ingredients to a slow cooker. If you did not create enough stock in the previous step, add water to augment.
- Set on “low” and cook for 8 hours or set on “high” and cook for 4 hours.
- Check for seasoning and serve garnished with croutons. (See Notes.)
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This can just as easily be made on the stove top as it can in a slow cooker. Create the stock as indicated and place all the ingredients into a stock pot rather than a slow cooker. Bring to a boil over a med-high heat and then reduce to a soft simmer. Soup will be ready once the peas are soft and the carrots cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes.
If you want the smokey flavor but not the pork, try using a bit of smoked turkey instead of the ham hocks.
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From what I’ve seen, split peas are sold in 1 lb. (454 g) packages. When I made today’s soup, I made a “double batch” that resulted in a little over 4 quarts (3.8l) of soup. I wanted some for my dinner, to be sure, but also some for the freezer. As you may have already gathered, a bowl of split pea soup makes a fantastic lunch. Still, you can easily halve the recipe, if you like.
You’ll note that I do not use salt and pepper until the very end. There’s no way to estimate the amount of salt in the ham or hocks. Wait until the end of the cooking process, give a taste, and then add whatever you feel is needed.
To make croutons:
- Heat equal amounts of olive oil and butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Add 1 smashed clove of garlic and sauté.
- Meanwhile, cube a few slices of thickly sliced bread.
- When oil is hot and garlic fragrant, place bread cubes in the pan and toast, turning frequently.
- When browned to your satisfaction, remove to paper towels, and reserve.
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It’s déjà vu all over again …
When I travel to Italy, there are 2 dishes that I request every time and very often more than once: pasta with clams and pasta with salmon. The first is a dish I’ve made for some time using a family recipe, while a recipe for the latter eluded me for years. You can well imagine my excitement when I finally stumbled upon the secret to this fantastic dish. Click HERE to see this secret revealed.
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Coming soon to a monitor near you …
Wonton wrapper pastas
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