Monday, January 10, 2011

Split Pea Soup

Maybe it's the very cold weather, or the fact that it's been snowing almost every day, but for whatever reason, I've been on a soup kick. I've said before that I'm not a soup person, but this winter I find myself enjoying it more and more. Home made split pea soup has also been close to my heart. It's inexpensive to make, gets flavor from a ham bone or ham hocks which are things that are generally thrown away, and the big pot that I make can be frozen and then enjoyed at a later date. I enjoy very thick split pea soup, so thick you could eat it with a fork. If you prefer your soup to be well, soupy, just add some more water or veggie stock towards the end.

What You Need:

1/4 lb bacon, diced
2 cups (1lb) split peas
1 left over bone from a ham or 2 smoked ham hocks
2 carrots, small diced
4 stalks of celery, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lrg onion, small diced
1 potato, peeled and small diced
6 cups of water or veggie stock (chicken works well too)
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Making split pea soup is a process, but not to much work. In a large pot, place the ham bone, ham hocks or both and cover it with the veggie stock or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let simmer for about 30 minutes. This gets the flavor out of the bones and loosens the ham from the bones as well. Remove the bone/hocks and set aside to cool. In a large soup pot, over medium heat, render all the fat out of the bacon. Once the bacon is nice and crispy, remove it from the pan and add in all the diced veggies. Cook until softened and make sure to season them well with salt and pepper. After the veggies are softened, stir in the split peas and let them cook for just a minute or two. This allows them to soak up the flavors from the bacon and the veggies.

Pour the bone/hock cooking liquid over the peas to cover them. Give it a stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for about 45-60 minutes or until the peas have lost their shape, making sure to stir on occasion. While the soup is cooking, remove as much of the meat as you can from the ham bone or hocks, diced it up and put into the soup pot. Once the peas are completely cooked. Turn the heat off and let it sit, covered for about 20-30 minutes. This keeps the soup hot, but because it cools a bit, it will be thickened. If it's too thick for you, just add in some more stock or water.

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