Thursday, January 15, 2009

Split Pea Soup with Ham

You either love pea soup, or you hate it. If you love it, thanks for joining me! If you hate it and are still reading, good for you! This recipe contains some of the prettiest colors I've posted (excluding the Christmas sugar cookies, of course!) And imagine the vitamins in this stuff! If nothing else, it will make you glad you are past the diaper stage with your kids. (Not past that stage? Oops. Sorry.)

I love that Mr.4444 and I had bought a big ham we bought on sale, because while I was making soup, he was making this! (Yum, scalloped potatoes and ham! :) Here we go!

Gather your ingredients. You might notice the little note that says, "+Fresh Thyme." Mr.4444 (the sweetheart) was at the store for me when I started :) Allow me to interject to say that this is another one of Charrette's recipes! I've tried three now and have been very happy with each.

Ingredients for the grocery list:

1 lb dried split peas
3 tbls butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
2 tsps minced garlic
1 pound ham, chopped
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/3 tsp red pepper flakes
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tsp fresh thyme

(For the record, I doubled this recipe this time, as you will notice, maybe from here on out.)

You have to plan ahead for pea soup, as the peas must be soaked overnight, covered with about two inches of water above the "pea line." (We got a little out-of-hand and soaked ours for about 16 hours, but they were fine.) Drain and set aside.Prep your ingredients while you wait for Hubby to come home with the herbs. See what I mean about the pretty colors? If you get hungry, do thisWhat?! There was way too much carrot in there for the recipe (see the cup measure on the counter?) I was just doing my part, by keeping carrots out of the landfill. Plus, I was starving!! (Yes, I cleaned the spatula. Or maybe I didn't. Do you really think boiling hot soup doesn't kill germs?!)

In a large stock pot, melt the onions, and cook (stirring) for 2 minutes.Add celery and carrot and cook, stirring, until they "color," or about 3 minutes longer.Add garlic and cook, stirring, another 30 seconds. Add ham and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown.Add drained peas and spices and cook another two minutes.At this point, Mr.4444 came home with the fresh thyme and pointed out something I (the novice pea soup maker) hadn't thought of; why not make a stock out of the ham bone, instead of just putting water in the soup? (This man can cook, I tell you, and I don't argue with success, so I agreed.) So, this is what he did...

Helped me divide up that huge ham into two bowls (2lbs ham each).(Leave it in big chunks; it's the right thing to do, seriously.) Then, throw some veggies into a pot with water and the ham bone, like this:
Bring it to a boil and then simmer for an hour or so. Drain it into a colander... Look at that!Add your beautiful stock to the pot (add water to get what the recipe calls for if you don't have enough stock)....along with the bay leaf and thyme, which you have so lovingly stripped from its branches, like skinning cat.Stop it! No, I have never skinned a cat; I was only kidding!

On a side note, when I was a kid, I used to eat the seeds off of a weed that looked kind of like that thyme (but wasn't) and grew in lawns everywhere. Am I the only one who did that?? What a nut!! I can remember the taste to this day; nothing mouth-watering or anything; I guess I was just stupid.

Let your beautiful soup cook until the peas are tender; about one hour. Remove the bay leaf and press it in a book (just kidding again; it's late, and I'm getting silly-tired. Throw the thing in the garbage.) Adjust the seasoning to taste. Serve immediately.

I wonder why the recipe says to "serve immediately." Is that to prevent second thoughts?

We ate some "immediately," yes, and it was good, but isn't everything better the next day? And don't you want to freeze some? If nothing else, it looks pretty in there.
I have eaten this soup three times already from the freezer. The thing I love about it is that most people say, "Ewww. Pea soup?!" so that just means more for us healthy folks. I love me some pea soup! (Hope you do, too.)
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