For one of the two ThJJ anksgiving dinners that my mother-in-law cooked, she made a gigantic ham. I mean a seriously massive ham. Like twenty-eight pounds or something. One you would need to go H.A.M. on to finish. (Does anybody else immediately thing of Jay-Z when they eat ham? I do.)
I had a bag of split peas in my “food grotto” that I had been waiting for some leftover ham to make. Not that I’ve ever tried it, but I just don’t think split pea soup would be worth eating without ham in it. I’m obviously not willing to try that.
So, last weekend, I got around to making a big pot of split pea soup with the ham I put in the freezer and that bag of split peas. And some smoked turkey stock. Because that’s how I roll.
It was perfect weather for soup, anyway, since it was gray and cold. And this is prime time to be eating bone broth to ward off the nasties like colds. Seriously, bone broth is practically a super food. I read last week that there have been outfits opening across the country selling the stuff for like $4 for eight ounces. Ouch. It’s super easy to make it yourself. I basically put a chicken (or turkey) carcass in my crockpot with a few carrot peelings or bits of onion and a splash of white wine or cider vinegar, fill it up with water and cook it on low for about 24 hours. I have been making a conscious effort to get it into my diet more the older I get, since I like to think it helps your nails, hair and skin, and eases aches and pains that I get in my knees more and more these days. Read this article from Dr. Mercola’s website to get the low down on why it is so good for you. Turns out grandma was right about eating chicken soup to feel better when you’re sick. But only if you make it like this. Don’t even fool with the stuff from the can. Yuck.
I was looking through a couple of my cookbooks for the recipe I previously used for split pea soup, and I couldn’t seem to find one I liked. So, I just went rogue and made my own. I thought you guys might like to give it a try, should you ever be faced with a huge pile of leftover ham like I was.
Split Pea and Ham Soup (5-6 generous servings)
- 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 quarts chicken, turkey or vegetable stock preferrably homemade)
- 2 cups diced leftover tavern ham (or whatever kind of you might happen to have)
- 4 cups dried split peas
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tb hot sauce
In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and garlic when the oil is hot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and carrots are soft. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the stock, ham and split peas. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook 30 minutes until peas are tender and falling apart. Add the hot sauce. Cook another five minutes or so.
I didn’t add much salt because the ham is kinda salty on it’s own, so you might wanna watch that. Also, I had smoked turkey stock, which is wonderful, but any chicken or turkey or vegetable stock would work just fine. My in-laws have a smoker, and I always grab the carcass when they smoke a turkey. It makes amazing stock. Split peas, like any peas, are really sweet, and I think you really need the salty, smokey taste from the ham to balance them out. Which is why you need to add the hot sauce. It gives it just the slightest bite. You know how much you love stuff that is hot AND sweet. Like wings. Or Chinese food. It’s a winning combo. I use Crystal hot sauce for cooking because it’s not really that hot. I’m a total baby when it comes to hot sauce. Some people probably would hate it because it’s not hot enough. By all means, if you like it hot, add more or use the real hot stuff. It’s a matter of preference. You can even add it in when you serve it. This soup would be great with cornbread, hot pepper cornbread, actually. And, it only gets better when it’s leftover.