Split Pea Soup

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

Ingredients

For the ham stock

  • 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

For the split pea soup

  • 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)

Directions

  1. For the stock
    1. Put all the stock’s ingredients into a large, heavy bottomed pot, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a low simmer.
    2. Continue simmer for 2 hours, skimming surface foam occasionally, as needed.
    3. 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.
    4. When cool enough to handle, trim the meat from the bones and chop into bite-sized pieces. Cover and reserve.
  2. For the soup:
    1. 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.
    2. Set on “low” and cook for 8 hours or set on “high” and cook for 4 hours.
    3. Check for seasoning and serve garnished with croutons. (See Notes.)

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Variations

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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Notes

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 … 

Pasta al Salmone

Pasta al Salmone

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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180 thoughts on “Split Pea Soup

  1. This is exactly how my Mom made split pea soup too! No crock pot in those days (that I know of), so it was stove top; she did soak the peas, in a crystal bowl that had been a wedding present; I can still see that bowl with peas on the counter (that would be a beautiful still life photo). I don’t recall how long she soaked the peas for, but from your recipe, it looks like I can skip that step.
    Thanks for the recipe and a wonderful memory; and what a wonderful tribute to your Mom for this Mother’s Day.

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    • Thanks, Angeline. I don’t recall Mom soaking her peas and I’m sure she would have told me to do so during one of our split pea soup-related talks. Yes, we did talk of it more often than one would think. She did love it so. 🙂 I’m glad today’s post brought to mind memories of your Mom, too.

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    • I understand, Massi. We are cooler here in Chicago and our Spring is just starting. As a result, our “soup season” lasts longer than yours. Thank you for commenting.

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  2. It is amazing how many little sacrifices mothers make! My mum is just like that, she rarely makes the dishes she alone enjoys. She always wants to please everyone else by making their favorites. They show their love in so many special ways big and small 🙂

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    • That is so true, Sawsan. And all is done without the least complaint. I must say, though, that I’m sure you’re closer to your Mum than you think. Your blog is full of things you cook/bake for your children and things you all do together. Rest assured. One day your kids will say the same about you. 🙂

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  3. Oh John. now you are showing me up for really lazy – yes, I use all the same ingredients, but mine has always been a one-stop-shop: I usually use ham hocks, but once they have come to a boil and been skimmed, everything else [+ a few secrets] just gets added and slowcooked for about half your time! Sloppy!! Also I oft use red lentils [guess from my childhood?] instead of split peas . . . SO, I am quite determined during the forthcoming winter to do it ‘your way’ and enjoy the difference! Oh, ‘wonton wrapper pastas’: bet Bobbi and I and others just can’t wait 😀 !!!

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    • Hello, Eha! I used to prepare this soup much like your one-stop-shop method but gradually came to this process — and I’m quite pleased with the results. We, too, make lentil soup, though with plain old brown lentils. I should post our family recipe one day. Next Fall perhaps. Our soup season is ending. Yay!

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  4. I have found this soup to be so easy to make in the slow cooker and the left over ham gives it the perfect flavor. In Finland, split pea soup is served to the army conscripts every Thursday with oven raised pancake with jam for dessert.

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    • I, too, like using the slow cooker for split pea soup. Too much tends to evaporate on the stove top, causing it to become too thick. I’m always adding water to it in the end. In a slow cooker, the consistency is perfect. How lucky are your conscripts! I’m sure they soon grow tired of it but I would surely love it! 🙂

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      • Sorry to be writing on the incorrect site, but: NO! We have an ‘Old Folks Home’ in the community here – they get the soup and pancakes every Tuesday methinks and begin the next day to wait for the following week 🙂 ! OK: it is not always split pea – oft it is sauerkraut soup or a meatball ort kidney one, but mostly pea/lentil they have had for oft 90 years 😀 !

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  5. I think this is the perfect tribute to your mother John, purely because this is her soup. We mothers are always busy cooking everyone else’s favourites that we forget about ours, so I decided that on Mothers Day, I will cook myself biryani because that’s what I love.
    Now, I make split pea with vegetable broth but add crispy bits of beef on top. To me it tastes good and I am certain yours is pretty fantastic too but I will never know how your split pea soup tastes like!

    Nazneen

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    • Thank you, Nazneen. We kids never really know how much our mothers sacrificed for us. Being childless, I’ve even less of an idea than those with kids. I think it great that you’re going to prepare biryani for yourself on Mothers Day. Good for you!
      Never is a long time, Nazneen. We’ve still got time to meet and, when we do, I’ll bring the soup. 🙂

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  6. From top to bottom, this is a lovely post, filled with favourites of mine! Split pea soup? Ham? Slow cooker to make it in? Salmon pasta? Love love love. And how lovely that you and your mum had that special dish you enjoyed together, a little club for the two of you! Thanks so much for sharing this with us…

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    • Thank you, Eleni. I really am glad that you liked this post. Yes, when it came to split pea soup, ours was a club of two devoted members, Mom and me. 🙂

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  7. Another great post, John! I really like that you make a fresh stock. It is remarkable how similar this is to Dutch split pea soup. The main differences are the addition of celeriac and smoked pork sausage. Plus that in the preparation the stock is made while the soup is cooking (i.e. the ham hocks are cooked with the soup and at the end the meat is taken off the bones and added back to the soup). Here’s my recipe: http://stefangourmet.com/2012/01/23/classic-dutch-pea-soup-erwtensoep-snert/ There I used pork ribs, but ham hocks are more traditional.
    On another note (inspired by Richard’s spice grinder versus pressure cooker story), if you want room for a sous-vide you can always give away the slow cooker 😉 It can do everything that a slow cooker can, plus much more 🙂

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    • Thank you, Stefan, for leaving such a nice comment. At one time, I made my soup very much like yours, with the exception of a few ingredients. I’ve found this way to be much easier — and less messy — to remove the meat from the bones and then trim it. Plus, I can add more flavors to the soup because those stewing vegetables will be separated once the stock is made.
      Yes, a sous-vide machine would take up no more space than a slow cooker uses but there is one little difference between the two. My slow cooker costs less that 10% of the cost of the cheapest sous-vide. 🙂

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  8. This is our Family Soup. It has been around each Winter of my life, from my grandparents, Dad, my aunts & uncles… and now I cook it but without the special method you and your mum employ. Ours simply gets bunged in together and left to do its thing [sometimes simmering off & on for days – no-one has died from it yet] but it looks exactly the same as yours. My ex-husband refused to eat it as the look & smell scared him, and the fact that it lived on the stove for SO long, by which he was considered a bit of a sook by the family. The G.O. cannot understand how something that smells so bad can taste so good 🙂

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    • Oh, EllaDee. Yours is a family after my own heart! I bet your soup is a delicious experience and something well-suited for the cold Estonian Winters. I bet when you make it now, it is quite the nostalgic experience. How nice is that?

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    • You and Mom would have gotten along very well, Claire. You just passed the split pea test. 🙂
      I only make a ham once a year so I only make split pea soup once a year. I really have to change this for I do so enjoy this soup.

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  9. there are 2 soups I hold up there as my favorites, one is lentil soup and the other obviously split pea soup, I wish I had a nice story as a backdrop, but nobody in my family liked it starting with my mom hahaha, it will be years until I stopped eating it out of a can and making it myself. Ham bones, bacon, definitely in my preparations, I really like your recipe too, I love how straight forward it is. I usually use the pressure cooker (both to render the stock and to cook the peas) and I finish with a splash of heavy cream, I guess I’ve lived in the US long enough, I like the creaminess. I’m curios about this slow cooker approach, I don’t own one, but i can see the benefits. Again, lovely post, thank you John!

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    • Thank you, Paul. Yes, I enjoy lentil soup, too, and I’ve a family recipe that I’ve yet to post. Still, of the 2, split pea is my favorite, probably because of the memories attached to it. I haven’t a pressure cooker and am resisting the urge o purchase one. I just don’t see myself using it more than a few times a year and wonder if it’s worth the storage space. 😉

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  10. This is the real deal, John. Hats off. I have to admit I started eating split pea soup a lot during my stint as a vegetarian, so my version doesn’t use pork products. My father is a soup fanatic. I will have to send him a link to your recipe! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Susan. I tried the vegetarian lifestyle and just couldn’t go without meat. Then, too, it was some 20+ years ago and the food choices available today for vegetarians/vegans weren’t even dreamt about back then. I was going to add my split pea soup recipe from back then but couldn’t find the recipe. As I recall, tamari was used to simulate the meat flavor but after 20+ years I could easily have that wrong. I feel honored that you’d send the link to your Father. Thanks. I hope he likes it.

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  11. The split pea soup sounds delicious, but that amount of bones and meat is not going to get past the La Moussiere customs post. However, the smoked salmon pasta recipe is perfect, and our local shop sells packets of smoked salmon offcuts as well:)

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    • I thought that the meat issue would make this soup unpalatable for some. I once had a vegetarian recipe that used tamari, I believe, but I couldn’t locate that recipe. Well, at least the salmon recipe will pass customs. I think I’ll do better over the next few weeks. Have you considered bribes? 😉

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  12. I agree with your mother 100%. I always make a single batch just for the 2 of us and there’s never anything left in the pot. This looks really good. It’s getting winter here and it’s nearly time for some pea soup.

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    • Thanks, Maureen. If there is one thing good about our late arriving Spring, it’s that soup season was stretched a few weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed most of that batch and love that I’ve still got a quart in the back of the freezer. I don’t know when I’ll use it but it will be a good day when I do. 🙂

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  13. What a beautiful tribute John! I love that you would specifically take the ham bone to your Mom’s place and make the soup for her; she must have been so proud of you and grateful for the soup. I’m intrigued that making the stock independently makes a more flavourful soup; do you taste test side by side? Your post has made me yearn for this soup even though for me, it’s more of a colder weather dish. I’m loving the croutons too. I’m going to root through the freezer today to see if I’ve got a stash of the soup for lunch this weekend, we’re heading up North and the weather is supposed to be rainy and nasty. Thanks again, your lovely blog has inspired me (sadly sans hambone if I have to make it, but there will be ham bits in it, regardless!)
    That salmon pasta was my all-time favourite when pasta was a staple in my world! That is, until I ordered it in what I thought was an Italian restaurant (NOT) years and years ago; they used processed yellow cheese as the sauce. Really Disgusting. I nearly hurled right there. I couldn’t send it back because we were guests and it would have been rude, so I suffered through it, but rest assured we NEVER went back. Your blog always tempts me beyond comprehension to make the dish and the salmone with vodka is definitely up there on the list. $40 is average pricing for vodka in Ontario!

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    • Thank you, Eva, for your gracious comments. Yes, Mom was grateful for the ham bone and really did enjoy the soup. That was nothing, however, compared to the amount of goodies that she packed for me to take home. Now that was something!
      I’ve never done a side-by-side comparison but I only make ham once a year. I never have a 2nd bone for the 2nd pot of soup. That’s OK, though. After taking the time to make the stock, I’d hate to find out it was time wasted. 🙂
      Yellow cheese for salmon pasta?!?!?! What were they thinking?I’m so glad my first experience with the dish was in Italy and fantastic. Had I been served that monstrosity you received, I probably would neve have tried it again. Here, the price for our best “call brands” is about $40, with many in the $20 – $30 range. “Top shelf” brands begin around $40 and go up from there. I’ll stick with a call brand for my pasta and make martini’s with the top shelf. 🙂

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      • Ah yes, the ‘doggy bag’. I must admit to having that gene too; every time my single nephew is over I want to pack a take away for him but JT stops me. It must be the European woman’s gene! I can just imagine how lovely it was getting home and unpacking your Mom’s delights and enjoying them. When I was 19, I convinced my Mom to go to Hungary with me (it was supposed to be just me, but I chickened out) and on our way home we had a night stop over in Copenhagen; my aunt packed sandwiches and both Mom and I thought she was nuts. When we arrived at our layover hotel, in the middle of nowhere near the airport, we were so grateful for the very tasty food (plus Copenhagen was really expensive in those days).

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  14. I would’ve loved this back in January and all during the cold winter months, but better late than never. This is one of my favorite soups.

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  15. Love Split pea – nice to see it with ham and carrots – just like Mom used to make. I like with a drizzle of vinegar to finish it

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    • Thanks, Dave. A drizzle of vinegar? I like the sound of that and will have to try it when I pull that last quart out of the freezer. Thanks for the idea.

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  16. Your recipe is very similar to Phil’s recipe, he is the split soup maker in our home and absolutely set on his family recipe. Which is delicious EXCEPT for the fact that for some reason that escapes me, they thicken the soup with a flour/water mixture at the end. I don’t quite care for that, but I will tell you a secret, I have the soup with a smile, because I know it is all about Phil’s memories of his childhood having it just like that, made by his Mom

    now, the ham bone, that is non-negotiable of course! Sorry, vegetarians, it’s part of this deal for sure!

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    • Although I don’t get the flour thing either, I certainly can understand why Phil continues to do it. With or without the flour, though, it is a good bowl of soup, one that I thoroughly enjoy. “Non-negotiable” is right! The ham bone is a must! 🙂

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  17. John, though I won’t eat no ham bones, no how 😉 I respect and appreciate so much what you’ve chosen as a way to celebrate your mom! I think that whatever way we decide to do that, it all begins with Knowing her. It’s not about a greeting card that sings Swanee, How i Love ya, or two dozen red roses and a box of chocolates; it’s not one of the million, as advertised, “perfect gifts for Mom” – its knowing the heart of the woman who loved you in those so many ways that mothers do. Having read along for a year and a half now, it’s clear: you know (and probably have) the heart of your good mom! Way to speak love in a soup, John! May this be a day for you of happy remembrance!

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    • Wow, Spree! Saying that I probably have the heart of Mom is one of the nicest comments left on this blog. Thanks you so much. No matter how old we get, to some degree we all try to live up to our Mom’s example. She did love this soup, though, and it was a pleasure to make a potful for her. I made a few kinds for her but split pea was by far her favorite.
      I hope you have a lovely Mothers Day, Spree, and that someone says something to you today that more than repays you for the kindness you showed me here.

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    • Thank you so much, Lisa. This is more a Winter soup but, here in Chicago, our Springs come late so we can stretch soup season a bit. I’ll have a couple bowls and the rest goes into the freezer. I don’t care how hot it gets, in a couple months I’ll see that soup and will have no choice but to eat it. 🙂

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  18. I guess ham isn’t big amongst the Italian community. I remember having it only once in my childhood, when my mom made it with pineapple slices sitting on top and glazed cherries in the middle. I remember everyone was astounded at this dish, and then we never had it again! My dad became the cook of our household after my mom passed away and although he LOVED split peas soup, he never baked a ham therefore he never made this favourite soup of his. He ate the store-bought kind. I love that picture of your soup with croutons, looks Oh! so good!! And how wonderful that you are honouring your mom’s memory with her favourite soup!!

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    • Thanks, Lidia. I think you’re right about Italians and baked hams. On the other hand, why would a culture that produces porchetta care about ham? 🙂
      Your Dad and my Mom were very similar. Mom, too, resorted to store-bought when she just had to have a bowl of split pea soup.I really have it made, comparatively. I haven’t a family to worry about and can make this soup whenever I like. I just have to bake a ham more frequently to do so. Some things never change, I guess. 🙂

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  19. I absolutely love this. Such a touching tribute. I’m including these ingredients on my next grocery trip as I can’t wait to try my hand at this. For some reason, I’ve never made it, but your pictures and enthusiasm have it at the top of my list. I really appreciate all the informative instructions along the way, too… ‘cuz one, I don’t want to screw it up… and two, I want exactly what you have in that picture!! It looks amazing. Thanks so much and have a Happy Mother’s Day… You certainly deserve it!

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    • Wow! Such a vote of confidence. Thank you. It is a great bowl of soup, though, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. You’ll probably want to make it again this Winter. It’s a true bowl of comfort on the coldest of days. I hope you enjoy your Mothers Day, too! 🙂

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  20. I really love split pea soup! I hate to admit that usually eat the canned variety, mainly because my entire family turns their noses at the thought. I can’t understand it. I think this is a wonderful soup to make in honor of your mom, John!

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    • You and Mom, Tanya, have the same problem. Mom did have me, a fellow split pea soup lover, on her side but we never ate ham. She, too, enjoyed the canned variety and, as I mentioned in the post, managed to prepare a pot of it for the two of us every now and again. You need to find a restaurant in you area that serves a good bowl of split pea. If you’re asked where you’d like to go out for dinner, go there! 🙂

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  21. Hi John Pea and ham soup is my absolute favourite. I make it several times every winter. I make mine just like my mum used to. It is a lovely way to remember them.

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    • Thanks, Glenda. It sure is a lovely way to remember our Moms. I certainly cannot help but think of her when I cook a dish like this or prepare some Italian specialty of hers. I can almost feel her presence in the kitchen with me. 🙂

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  22. Hi, John. Another fine recipe here. I love split pea soup. Sadly, I am the only one who does. 😦 As such, it never gets made but if I go out to eat and it’s on the menu, I always get a bowl. This one looks great and the homemade stock makes all the difference in the world when it comes to soup. Great Job.

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    • Thank you, Richard, for your kind comments and you’re certainly not alone. I’m a bit surprised to see just how many households have but one split pea soup lover. Who knew?

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  23. Sacrifice…thy name is Mother. Your post brought a slight little lump to my throat – my Mother never, ever, cooks anything that she alone likes. I don’t think I even know if there is one thing that she loves to eat that no one else likes. I am pretty sure she would not have anything on top of her head if I were to ask her right now. And I must ask it. Today. It’s only fitting that I do that.

    I have had split pea soup a couple of times, and I can’t say I am a big fan, but this version sounds so alluring, could be because I love ham. Bookmarking this, I must try it. Thanks for posting this beautiful post John.

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    • Thank you, Minnie. Your Mother sounds like a wonderful woman and I bet she was the perfect Mother for you. 🙂
      You and I share that “ham love” and it really does make split pea soup something special. I hopeyu do give it another try and like it this time around. Good luck!

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  24. Split pea soup is great! I always make a big batch and freeze whatever we don’t eat. It thaws and reheats beautifully. I often (not always) make mine by making a ham stock the way you do, too, and the results are spectacular. I don’t usually have a ham bone, alas, so typically I make my soup with smoked ham shanks or hocks. A pretty good substitute. There’s also ham base in the soup aisle of your supermarket that’s not half bad – worthy checking out. Really excellent recipe and post, and a great way to remember your mom! Thanks for a great post.

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    • Thanks, John, for leaving such a nice comment. I’ve seen that ham base and never thought to use it here. Talk about a disconnect! A number of years ago, I started using smoked turkey wings to make stock for Thanksgiving. The following Spring, I gave smoked hocks a try in my split pea. I’ve used both ever since. They do bring a lof of flavor to both stocks.

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  25. John is the split pea soup maker in our family, personally i think this is why he encourages me to grow pigs! .. I shall bring this recipe to his attention tonight. What i liked about your recipe was how you noted that there are two stages, making the stock being equally as important as the compilation of the soup. I am great believer in a go stock. I do love this soup but it always felt too think to me. I look forward to eating your version. Now I am back out off into the garden. i was sitting under a tree with the dogs trying to work out my new electric fence when I suddenly realised it was wednesday!! You always have something delicious for me on a wednesday. have a lovely day, What happened to your tomatoes, pity i am so far away, you could drive over and collect a few from the growing table, . I hate to tell you this but Our johns are already flowering! And that overnight 39 I see in the forecast on the weekend better not get any colder than that! Have a lovely day.. celi

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    • I think it great that you and John each have your own dishes to prepare. No matter how much a person likes to cook, it is nice to have a day off occasionally. My tomatoes need help! I’m pleased that the couple cherry bomb pepper plants are doing well, though. Once the cold wave passes this weekend, everything is going outdoors. I’ll see how things go from there.
      Hope you had a great night and have a good morning. This morning I’m heading to Caputo’s. I need a cannoli. 🙂

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  26. As far as I’m concerned, “the additional flavor in the soup is well worth the extra time required”. What sweet way to honor your mom … I love that about food, how it binds us to our loved ones in very special, happy ways. Your split pea soup looks delicious! 🙂

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    • Thank you, Judy. You’re right about food binding us together. I really hadn’t noticed it until I started this blog. Now I see the role that food played in our lives. It’s really something!

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  27. I think homemade soup (with frozen leftovers!) is one of the best gifts anyone could get. And I agree with your Mom, you need the smoky savoriness of the ham & bones to give depth to your split peas. There are lots of amazing vegetarian/vegan soups out there but not this one 🙂 I wish my butcher had ham hocks, I’ll just have to settle for tasso. Drool.

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    • Thanks, Cam. All of our grocery stores have smoked ham hocks. They aren’t hard to find at all. Check in the meat department of your grocery. In or at the end of the meat dept, there’s a section of smoked meat parts, usually turkey and pork products. Though ham hocks are mostly fat, it’s the flavor they bring to the pot that I’m after. Still, I bet tasso would work, too. 🙂

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      • Thanks for the advice, I’ll have a look around. You know, that’s one the many things I miss about the Midwest. I can get amazing seafood and a variety of ethnic food/imports here but some of the building blocks of cooking like bone-in cuts of meat and a decent bratwurst (despite having a couple German delis) that are pretty much ubiquitous back there escape me here in PDXville. I’m greedy and I want everything like 5 minutes ago! 😉

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        • I like to think I’d love all of the seafood at your disposal but, like you say, I’d miss the cuts of meat that we take for granted. The grass is always greener …

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  28. While I am not a fan of the pea (in anything – I even request it left off pasta dishes at restaurants), my Grandpa would have absolutely loved your recipe. He too was a big fan of split pea soup. Whenever my Grandma, then mom or aunts would make a ham, they would reserve the bone so that they could make split pea soup for Grandpa. Makes me think of him every time I see it or hear it. 🙂 Here’s to your mom (and Zia too) on this Mother’s Day. They have both (and of course you as well) made my kitchen a more delicious place.

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    • Well, Kristy, if you don’t like peas, I’m afraid this post is not for you. I am glad, however, that it reminded you of your Grandpa. Thoughts of Grandparents are always good. 🙂 That was a very kind thing to say about Mom & Zia. Thank you so much, Kristy.
      BTW, I think you’ll like the next few posts. Just sayin’ … 😉

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  29. Beautiful tribute to your Mom, a very touching post. Love split soup but have not made it for a while, should remedy this. Soup is good anytime, even in summer and especially when it is already in my freezer. Like your 2 steps idea. I do this with other soups by never thought of this with split pea soup. Looking forward to your “wonton wrapper pastas”.

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    • Thank you, Norma. Isn’t split pea a great soup? I really do enjoy it. You had asked me about using eggroll wrappers to make cannelloni. I’ve never used them because they are so large. I did use wonton wrappers, though, and that’s what’s in next week’s post. I’ll have you making ravioli in no time!

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  30. I love split pea soup, John. I think it’s lovely that you and your mom shared this soup as special when others really didn’t particularly care for it. I have other soups I relate to special family members, but it may be that I’m the one in the family who really loves split pea more than other options. And the ironic part of that is that I don’t like peas as a stand-alone vegetable. Your recipe is great. I have never made it with a slow cooker and two step process would be helpful. I would never make half a recipe, that’s for sure. I hope your Zia has a lovely weekend. I’m sure she feels deeply appreciated. She even has “strangers” who think she’s special. 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Debra. Funny how many households have but one split pra soup lover. I really didn’t expect that but it is the case. All the more reason to make a big batch and stock the freezer. That way you’ll have some when left alone for a meal. 🙂
      I’ll be sure to give her Zia regards when we talk this weekend. One of her sons and his family will be visiting her. It certainly surprises her to see so many people from all ’round the country and world sending her well-wishes. Heck! I’m surprised. When I first started this blog, she and I talked about how popular it would become and never did we think anyone but a few family members would be interested. This is utterly amazing!

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  31. Okay I must admit something, I never liked peas lol. I’ve tried them in many ways but I’ve never tried them in split pea soup. Knowing me, I will try that as well. So I will let you know if I enjoyed your recipe John 🙂

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  32. This is a truly fine and Mother’s Day worthy Split Pea soup, John! I missed making split pea soup after the holidays this year. And now this makes me really want to have some in my freezer…even with warm weather approaching! I’m also intrigued with next week’s wonton ravioli and am about to check out the salmon pasta post…a particular fave of mine, and my mom loves salmon…so perfect timing! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Betsy, and I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post. Funny. If I don’t bake a ham I don’t get my split pea soup and I miss the soup far more than the ham. I still view it as a treat, just like I did when Mom served us both lunch. I’ll be shoeing you how to make a couple pastas next week. One way or another, I’m going to get more of you to make your own ravioli. You’ll see … 😉

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  33. John, what a wonderful son you are. And what a good split pea soup. As a child I hated soup. I think because my mom never made this. I have made it with ham hocks but it has been a long while as I don’t like shredding or taking the meat off the hock. It gives such good flavor and we never have ham, so no ham bone. And today is a day for soup as it is cold and pouring rain. I best see what is left here as I really don’t want to go to the grocery. Thanks for the tribute to your mom. It brought a tear(s) to my eye.

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    • Aw, Abbe. That’s very sweet of you and I’m touched. Thank you. Quite a few years ago, I “went vegetarian” for a while. During that time, I had a vegetarian version of split pea soup that used tamari, I think, among other things, for flavoring. I have to admit it was pretty good. Problem is that I’ve searched high and low for that recipe and couldn’t find it. I wanted to include it in today’s post for people who wanted to avoid ham or meat altogether. If I find it, I will post it.
      I hope you have a wonderful Mothers Day, Abbe, surrounded by all whom you hold dear.

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  34. that looks lovely–especially like the croutons. Nice touch! You have me jonesin’ for split pea soup. Love that you connect this soup to your mom. Food memories are the best 🙂

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    • Thanks, Liz, though you may need to look into buying a can of split pea soup to tide you over until you can make a pot of the real thing. Mom loved split pea soup so much that I’ll never be able to think or see a bowl of it without thinking of her. 🙂

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    • A few years ago? It’s time you challenged him to defend his crown. There can only be one Pea Queen and that title has you all over it, Toni.Go get him and that crown!

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  35. Yet another devotee of the split pea soup here! What a beautiful story behind it, it did warm my heart! Bon apetit to you, Dottore Bartolini and please pass kind regards to your mom from your Montenegrin neighbor and fan 🙂

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    • Thank you, Ruth, for your compliments. You are very kind. I’m sorry to say that Mom passed away in 2001, though she lives on here, among her recipes. Her Sister, my Zia Lea, is still very active and is often mentioned here. You just happened to arrive in a lull in the “Zia mentions.” 🙂

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      • John, i am sorry for your loss, please accept my condolences… But you are right, your mom lives through your work – i really felt her presence and warmth among the lines of your entry. I am looking forward to learning more about zia Lea and her culinary magic!

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  36. We call it ‘pea and ham soup’. I used to hate it as a child. I didn’t like the smell and I found it too salty. Mum would always make it with the leftover ham bone from Christmas which was the only time we had baked ham. I’m following on in the same way and we too, only have ham at Christmas and yes, I make split-pea soup with the leftover bone. I like the soup now and suddenly, it’s not too salty. I love how you use the celery leaves in the stock – I do hate to see the leaves being wasted xx

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    • Thanks for commenting, Charlie. I wonder if the ham you Mom bought was the cause of the soup tasting salty? I know here, the way a ham is cured will affect its salt content. I learned that the hard way. That experience is why I don’t salt my split pea until the very end. I don’t ever want to have a large pot of soup that’s inedible. And yes, I use the celery leaves and parsley stems. That’s where all the flavor is! Mom told me. 🙂

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  37. If my mother were closer, I would definitely be making this for her! She loves split pea soup cooked with a ham bone. There’s nothing better! I might just have to make this for myself. 🙂

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  38. I love split pea soup. I started eating it when I moved to New York and I fell in love in a instant. I have to admit I have never made it. Your recipe sounds wonderful. Ham stock? This is a first for me and it’s simply great. Thank you, John.

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    • Thank you, Francesca. I used to just throw the ham bone, pig hock, split peas, sliced carrots, and water into a pot, simmer it for about 30 to 45 minutes, clean the meat off the bones, and serve. Well, what a mess and there was little depth to the flavors. Making your own stock first gives you the opportunity to add onion, celery, and whatever flavors you want and create a ham stock. The split pea soup that results is a much better tasting soup. I hope you give it a try.

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  39. What a wonderful tribute to your mum – today is my mum’s birthday and I know she’d much prefer a bowl of something I made for her than flowers! Love the stock in this soup with the ham, must have such wonderful flavours. I love split peas too, so hearty and tasty. Lovely too that you and your mum had a little special dish that the two of you enjoyed as a special treat 🙂

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    • Thank you, Tanya. I bet your Mum had a great birthday with you at home for it. How often does that happen? Please wish her a belated happy birthday for me. Yes, this soup was for Mom and me, alone. That’s probably why it remains such a favorite of mine. The rest of the family had no idea what they were missing. 🙂

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  40. That is such a lovely story John! I agree with your Mom too, ham is what makes split pea soup. I don’t think I have ever had a good one without it. I love how you made your own ham stock and used it in the soup —sounds YUMMY! Love the addition of croutons –genius! 🙂

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  41. I love split pea soup too, John! And since you mentioned it and gave me a watering mouth, I also love bollito misto! Brings back many childhood memories to me too! 🙂

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  42. Hi, John–This is one of those dishes that I never tasted until I was adult, when a girlfriend taught me to make it. Great story about your mom–those lunches clearly meant something to her too. I tend to think of this as cold weather food, but I guess you’ve still got a few weeks of that in Chicago, right? Ken

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    • Thanks, Ken. Yes, the two of us did enjoy those lunches. And, yes, we’re back to soup weather again. The low temps for tonight and tomorrow night are back in the 30’s, though the prevailing thought is that this is the last of it. We’ll see. At least we’ve had enough rain to end last year’s drought. How’s that for lemonade? 😉

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  43. The image of you eating split pea soup this Sunday in tribute to your mother is just so touching; how you must miss her, yet clearly your connection is still strong and present.

    Your split pea soup looks and sounds delicious. This is one of my favourite soups. My recipe for it is somewhat simpler; I ‘cheat’ and use a smoked pork chop in place of the ham hock. That works for me as I’m not a huge fan of ham (sacrilege I know, when it comes to split pea soup).

    You’ve given me a great idea; I think I’ll bake a big batch and freeze portions to take with us to the cottage this summer. After a day on the beach, once the sun goes down and the air cools a hearty bowl of this would be so good. Soups like this aren’t just for winter even though that’s the normal association for me.

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    • Thank you, Mar, that’s very kind of you to say. Im not so sure adding smoked pork chops is a cheat. I think it a great idea and I may borrow it next time, especially if I’m low on ham. There’s so little meat on the ham hocks I really only use them for the flavor. I, too, associate soups like this with Winter but, even so, a bowl of soup really does hit the spot in the middle of Summer. At least I think so. And if that soup is split pea, all the better. Let me know what day you plan to serve soup when you’re at the lake and Zia and I will start our swim the night before so that we’ll get there in time for supper. 🙂

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  44. Bonjourno John
    May your precious memories of your mom always have a special place in your heart. I know she would have loved this post. You make me miss home too as that is the last time I had split pea soup. I love how yours is make with love and time and of course using the special delicious ham hocks. I guess I must have been an odd teenager as I used to love this soup. It smells so delicious cooking all day on the stove. It is quite difficult finding a whole ham in Hong Kong. I guess I could place a special order delivery but that might be quite expensive. I will have to book mark this recipe for when return to the “real world”. Wishing you a super weekend. Take Care, BAM

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    • Buona Notte, BAM! Thank you for leaving such a gracious comment. Like you, split pea will always remind me of home, though, unlike you, I’ve no problem getting the pork products. I cannot imagine the cost of having a ham delivered, BAM. Better to wait until your next visit home. In fact, the money you save on special delivery charges would go a long way to paying for your flight. 🙂
      I hope you have a wonderful Mothers Day, even if it isn’t celebrated in Hong Kong.

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  45. I love soup, I love split pea soup and I love split pea soup made with a ham bone even more! This is one of the first soups that I ever made from scratch when I was about 12 or 13 years old. When I was a kid I had this soup at a friends house for the first time, and was in awe at what a ham bone could do in a soup. I went home and tried to make it myself and umm well I wasn’t as diligent about stirring then as I am now and I ended up with a burned bottom pot of split pea soup! I fondly remember this though and you must have read my mind because I just bought a bag of split peas the other day with the intention of making a pot of it this weekend! I was going to make it vegetarian as I usually do (since my husband is a vegetarian) but for Mother’s Day I will get a ham bone to throw in for sure! Thanks for the inspiration, again.

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    • Thank you, Laura, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Split pea soup is quite an undertaking for a first time cook. I must give you credit for taking it on. It may not have turne out perfectly but you did learn of the importance of stirring the pot, so, it wasn’t a total loss. 🙂
      I hope you have a wonderful Mothers Day and a fantastic bowl of soup!

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  46. John, pea soup is at the top of my list of soups. I do a similar version but will try this when the clouds move in again.

    Italy, how I would love to visit. I haven’t even scratched the surface on places I’d like to explore across the pond, but first on my list are Italy and Greece. My ex mother-in-law took a month and cruised the Greek islands, with an extended stay on Corfu. She then spent another month eating her way through Italy. I lost myself in her pictures and dreamed of going there someday. Another notch on my bucket list. I’d better stick around until I’m at least 200. 🙂

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    • We’re back in the cold again, Susie. Highs in the low 50’s but overnight lows in the 30’s. It’s still split pea soup weather here!
      How you would love both destinations, Susie. Italy is, of course, my favorite but I really enjoyed jumping across some of the Greek Islands. And, yes, I’ve eaten my way across and through Italy several times and cannot wait to do it again. Look at it this way, with your gift for writing, imagine the tales you’ll tell and write about upon your return home. And there will be tales, trust me. 🙂

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  47. Oh boy are you bringing back memories for me now. I have only eaten my mother’s pea soup & never got the recipe from her but this looks & sounds just like the way she made it. I know exactly what I’m going to do with the next ham bone – of course i’m going to have a very disappointed dog but Lola’s going to have to wait.

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    • I’m glad the post could bring some great memories to your mind’s forefront, Diane. Poor Lola. Max has snacked on the hams, much to my chagrin, but never gotten the bones. I covet those ham bones and they are headed, without exception, to a pot split pea soup. 🙂

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  48. Hi John how have you been? yep make it all the time with the left-over ham bone, but in my house I have to cook it long, they all want it really thick…looks delish, have a wonderful weekend…m

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    • Hello, Maria! I’m well and hope you can say the same! I’m glad you stopped by and enjoyed today’s recipe. Have a wonderful Mothers Day. I hope you’ll be surrounded by your family.

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  49. This is close to the Dutch ‘erwtensoep’ I love this soup. I ate so much split-pea-soup when I was a student in the Netherlands, during winter. I generally love soup. I haven’t come across one that I don’t like. I am feeling hungry now, I haven’t had my breakfast! Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for stopping by.

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    • I’ve a Dutch blogging buddy and he mentioned the similarity between our soups. It’s not surprising when you’re dealing with flavors that go so well together. The real surprise is that it isn’t more widespread. Thanks for visiting!

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  50. Hooray! Thank you for posting this recipe. I`m going to give it a go and, if it turns out well for me, I will share it with some of my fellow volunteers at our local food bank. (Because we have boxes of split peas sitting there, needing to be used up.)

    I liked that you added carrots. Do you ever add potatoes, or is that too weird?

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    • Thank you. I’m glad you liked the post enough to not just try it but to possibly recommend it, too. I’ve never included potatoes in this soup. It’s pretty thick already and the starch from the potatoes might make it even thicker, especially if they began to break down. Whether or not you include potatoes, please let me know how you liked it. I’m always open to suggestions.

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  51. John, this is one of those magic dishes – slow cooked for hours in two stages until it all melts and melds into a creamy savoury treat. My boys aren’t big fans either, but I adore it, so I sometimes make a batch and freeze portion quantities just for me. It defrosts brilliantly! 🙂

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    • I’m with you, Celia. I never know when the next hambone is going to come my way. So, I make a big batch, freeze it, and have some fantastic lunches in the weeks to follow.

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  52. Hi John, thank you very much for visiting my blog. Your comment put a smile on my face. Thanks for remembering me, it is very sweet. 🙂 I love this soup, summer or winter, we eat it very often. Although, I make it all together: cook ham bone and peas for several hours on a very low setting. I remember my grandmother would put this soup in the oven after she made bread for all night. Oh, it was good! 🙂

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    • You are so welcome, Marina. I bet your soup is every bit as good as this one I think your Grandmother’s methodology probably comes from the days of wood burning stoves. Once the bread was baked, there was still enough heat in the ashes for a long and slow simmer, just what this soup needs. I bet that soup of hers would far outshine my attempt here.

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  53. John I would definitely make a large batch of this soup, although I’ve never tried it with 2 lbs of split peas — wow! I’m afraid to say that the girls never seem to tire of this soup (I’m knocking on a piece of wood right now) and I like it too. Your version looks delicious and I particularly like the idea of adding the croutons. Yum!

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    • Hey, Barb! 2 lbs is just a double batch. I ended up with about 4 quarts of soup — and it goes quickly. Good that your girls like this soup. So many kids — and all too many adults — avoid all foods that are green. Fingers crossed your Ponytails never change. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Jasline! This is one of those “stick to your bones” soups and is perfect for cold weather, although I eat it year-round. I was surprised by the number of people in the comments who said they’d do the same. Who knew? 🙂

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  54. You’re speaking my language with this recipe John. One of my most favourite soups! I like the smoked turkey suggestion. I love that your mum made the soup as a special treat, just for the two of you. What a lovely mum – this must be an especially poignant meal for you. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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  55. I love all kinds of soup. Never had home made split pea soup. Yours looks wonderful, must give it a try next time I have ham left over. Thanks for sharing.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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      • You are so welcome, I feel so honored to be able to follow your beautiful blog and that you are sharing such fantastic memories and recipes. I am attempting to try the same but no where near your level. What you have done is so inspiring and so I am the one that is thankful to you.

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        • You’re too kind. I never thought that so many memories would fill these posts. It’s an amazing thing. Once I started recording the recipes, the memories came — and not just to me. Zia and I will discuss a recipe and she’ll give me a background story. I’ve learned so much family history when we make ravioli or sausage together. Other family members see this or that recipe and tell me of their memories. You’ll see. Just start recording the recipes. The memories will come and I can’t wait to read them. 🙂

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