Split pea soup


If you go to holiday parties in December, odds are you are going to see baked hams.  They show up at all parties — high-end to low-brow, culinarily speaking. (Contra Dorothy Parker:  “Eternity is a ham and two people.”)

At a party this weekend — that was pretty dreadful food-wise as it was pot-luck for non-foodcentric people — I asked the ham-bringer if I might have the bone at the end of evening.  See, the thought came into my head that with a ham bone I was on my way to split pea soup.  I bought a bag of split peas for a whopping 99 cents and was ready to roll.  Folks, I’m here to say there is not much more to making yourself some split pea soup than a ham bone and a bag o’ beans. Assuming of course you following Louise’s dictum of always having stock.  I was out of chicken, so I had some going in the stock pot yesterday, and then decided to make split pea soup from the fresh stock.

Here’s what I did (and I’d do it again, even ham-less, or especially ham-less!):

  1. Take your ham bone, and with a paring knife, get in there and cut off ham close to the bone.  Throw out the disgusting fatty pieces, and cut remaining into cubes, to make about 2 c.
  2. Pick over and rinse your beans, and put in a soup pot.  For 1 # beans, add 5 cups stock.  (Alternate directions below if you are — gasp! — stock-less.)  Put your ham bone in.  If it’s very large and protrudes greatly out of the liquid, do like I did and grab it and break in half at the joint.  That felt good!
  3. Bring to a near boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes.  Less time needed if your beans are fresh.  You won’t know that probably in advance, and I don’t dried beans move quickly in the supermarket.  But it does not matter — they will cook either way.image
  4. You can puree, but if you just cook long enough, until peas are very, very soft (which is what you want — you don’t want resistance from the peas when you eat it) the peas will mostly fall apart and thicken the soup.  I didn’t puree.
  5. Add in cubed ham, S&P, stir and heat gently.  Ladle and serve.  Voila!  Croutons or oysters crackers are good, but not necessary if you have that ham.

What to do ham-less:

Saute one chopped onion, a couple carrots and one celery stalk in olive oil.  Can add a thyme sprig with the stock.  You’ll probably want to run all this through a food mill at the end (or whir in blender).

To add creaminess, you can add a potato, peeled and cut up into large pieces with the peas (or 1/2 c white rice, which I won’t do most likely (white rice says to me: “empty carbs” and I would rather my empty carbs be of the chocolate variety).



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