My mom used to make split pea and ham soup once in a while when I was a kid, but this is the first time that I’ve attempted it. My childhood memories of this particular soup aren’t all that fond, so maybe that’s why I’ve waited so long to give it a whirl. Mom was (and still is) a very great cook , so I can only think it was my immature taste buds that led to the “ewwww” factor. Hubby, on the other hand, is quite delighted that I’ve taken the plunge. He’s always been a fan. So here’s my version of:
Split Pea and Ham Soup
Make the broth first:
In a large pot, cover your ham bone (hopefully it has some nice meaty bits still clinging to it) with cold water. Roughly chop a large onion and several (3-5) stalks of celery, including the leafy stems. Add to the pot. Season with your favorite seasonings, I put in 3 bay leaves and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer. It will take at least 3 hours to make a rich stock. Once the stock is to your satisfaction, remove from heat, and when it’s cooled a bit, fish out the ham bone and the meaty pieces. Strain the broth until clear. Discard the mushy veggies. Cut meat into small pieces and reserve in the fridge. Skim off undesired fat from the top of the broth.
Now the soup:
Return the clear stock to the stove with a couple of bay leaves and taste to adjust seasonings. Pick over and rinse the split peas, then add to the stock. Use 1 cup per about 3 cups broth (a guesstimate of the amount of broth is fine). Over a medium simmer, let the peas cook until tender, about an hour. At this point, if you prefer a smoother texture, use an immersion blender to puree the mixture, or you can even just mash a bit with a potato masher for a courser texture (which is what I did).
While the split peas are cooking, prepare the vegetables. For about 6 cups broth, I used 3 carrots, 1 large onion, 3 ribs of celery and 3 cloves of garlic. Dice and saute the veggies in a bit of oil or butter for about 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. Add the sauteed vegetables to the stock along with the reserved meat. Turn heat to low and let the soup simmer until vegetables are desired tenderness.