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!):
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).