Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mom's Split Pea Soup with Ham

Growing up, ham usually formed the centerpiece of our Easter brunch or dinner.  A few days later this meant we would be treated to a wonderful split pea soup loaded with smokey and salty bits of ham.  My mom's secret?  The ham bone.  Into the pot it would go with peas, seasonings, and a few extra veggies.  The soup is ridiculously simple.  I suspect I don't make it often only for lack of a ham bone.  Tossing in a handful of cooked meat at the end just isn't the same as letting that hock simmer in the broth for hours on end.

Adapted from childhood memories, with some help from Mom and the BHG cookbook.

serves 6-8

The Ingredients:
1 meaty ham bone, about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs
2 cups split peas
1 onion, finely diced
1 potato, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2-3 carrots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp marjoram
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

The Process:
Place the ham bone in a 4-qt slow cooker.  Add peas, diced vegetables and seasonings.  Pour chicken stock and water over the top.  Cover and cook on the low heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours.  Remove the ham bone.  As soon as it is cool enough to handle, remove any meat from the bone and coarsely chop or shred.  Return the meat to the slow cooker.  Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste.

The Review:
Isn't it amazing, how one big bowl of soup can whisk you back to everything that was good ans wonderful about childhood?  I love this soup.  I love how simple it is.  I love the sweet bits of carrots, the tender bits of potato, the salty bits of ham and the savory bursts of thyme.  I love the soup even better the next day when it has thickened the the consistency of book paste.  But I am a bit odd like that.  And I am a bit of a bibliophile.  Though I never ate paste as a child...that I can recall.  It brings to mind one of my favorite childhood books...Cloudy with a Chance a Meatballs (don't ask me about the film, I was too horrified to even bother seeing it...)  The image of pea soup fog stuck with me all of these years.

Sorry...tangent.  But most dishes like this seem better the next day.  And nothing is quite the same as generous shreds of ham off of a meaty hock that has been simmering with tender peas for the entire day.

I'm sad it's been devoured already.  I kind of want to buy a ham hock just to have more soup...

1 comment:

  1. Mmm. I made some too. Thicker than water. :)

    I never ate the paste but I loved the minty smell.