Get out the stock pot, as soup season has begun!
We love our homemade soup! With all of its liquid goodness, my boys and I enjoy a big bowl of homemade soup and crusty bread. The season officially begins when I pull out my giant stockpot and make a batch of Split Pea Soup with Ham. I crave it all spring and summer, but with the warmer weather, it’s just not the same. Serve this with a thick piece of fresh baked Free Form Artisan Bread.
Although there are many “quick” soup recipes and crock pot recipes, I am a true believer, that soup must be given the love and respect of simmering for many hours. This is an endeavor that takes love and patience. Soup days are also days I plan other home projects, such as laundry, paper work, blogging and phone calls. One does not have to be a slave to the stove as much as you have to visit it periodically to stir, taste, and occasionally add an ingredient. I consider soup to be the perfect food. It usually has a protein, carb, veggies and herbs. It’s everything good in one pot, and how I trick the boys (and myself) to eat vegetables they may not try otherwise.
Earlier in the week, I made a Baked Honey Dijon Ham with the bone in. I removed most of the leftover ham from the bone, leaving some meat around it, put into a large plastic bag to use later. I don’t always have a ham bone like this to make my soup, so often I will purchase ham shanks to use instead. Here it is, My Spilt Pea soup with Ham that I’ve made more than any other recipe as it’s simply a family favorite.
Recipe yeilds…lot’s of soup
2 1-lb bags of dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
1 ham bone (from 5-7 lb ham with some meat still intact) or 2-3 lbs of ham shanks.
2 quarts of Chicken broth (I used 1 quart of store-bought and 1 quart of homemade I had defrosted from the freezer)
Water (as needed throughout)
2 stalks celery sliced
1 large onion diced (I used a Vidalia)
2 TBS garlic finely diced
3 bay leaves (remove before serving)
2 large carrots quartered and sliced
3 TBS fresh herbs (I used a combination of Thyme and Sage, but savory and parsley are good too)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Sea Salt to taste
2-3 chicken bullion cubes (optional)
After you’ve sorted out your peas (I pour them on a large baking sheet so I can easily pick out any unwanted discolored ones) rinse well under cold water in a colander and pour into large stock pot. Cover with water (about 1 inch above the peas) and bring to a boil for 2 minutes, turn off heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour. This is preparing the peas. There is also an overnight option, but I just prefer to use this method.
After an hour has passed, pour in broth and add ham bone (or shanks). All of the peas and bones should be covered well with liquid. If needed, add water (I often have to add some water throughout cooking process). On high heat, bring to a soft boil. Meanwhile, begin chopping onions, celery and garlic. Add to soup and bring down temp. to a high simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
After simmering for about an hour, add carrots and water if needed. Simmer another 45 minutes still stirring occasionally. Then, add fresh-cut herbs, simmer another 15 minutes or so. Remove ham bone or shanks with thongs and let cool on cutting board until able to handle. Remove meat and cut into little pieces. This process can be a bit tedious, but is worth it for the final result. Return meat to soup. This is when you begin tasting and adding salt and pepper to taste. Carefull with the salt as the ham adds it own, so add slowly, taste and adjust. Personally, I have been known to throw in a couple of chicken bullion cubes in place of the salt as it adds extra flavor and contains salt. Keep adding water as the peas absorb liquid and it evaporates during the process.
Soup is very forgiving and gets better the longer it simmers. Like a tomato sauce, it only gets better the next day. Freeze leftovers in individual servings for quick defrosting another day as a quick hearty lunch or dinner.
If you happen to have a dog, or your neighbor has a canine friend, send the bone for a special treat!