Thursday, December 8, 2011

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham

I love split pea soup. It is easily one of, if not my absolute, favorite soup. I've had many versions of split pea soup over the years from my Dad's homemade to canned to fussy restaurant versions. I always preferred my Dad's and have cravings for it every now and again. While I don't have his recipe, I know the use of ham hocks make the soup.

There is a lot of variation one can do with the texture of this soup, and as I kind of like a creamy, uniform texture, that's how I made this one. You can make it chunkier by not stirring, and cutting the veggies a lot bigger. I just like it like this.

I used both smoked ham hocks and a smoked ham steak to make this soup today and I think it turned out really great. The cooking time was only in the hour range, so it's doesn't have to take you all day - though if you choose to make this in a crock pot on low and let it go all day, it'll work out just fine.

I kind of combined two recipes for this one. I liked the flavors of Emeril's but the simplicity of the other.

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham
(from here and here)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs smoked ham hock(s)
1 lb ham steak, diced
16oz bag dried split peas, rinsed and picked through
2 quarts chicken stock, water, or combination
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon creole seasoning (like Zatarain's)
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme


Start by getting your carrots, onion and celery into a pot with the butter and olive oil.

Cook for about 5 minutes over medium/low heat and add the garlic.

Cook for another 60 seconds.

Toss in the ham hocks. 

Mine were frozen solid. There were three of them in the package. Just toss them in.

 Dice up your ham steak. 

Toss in the ham along with the eye bone.

Rinse the peas and check for stones or other weirdness and toss them into the pot.

Add 2 quarts of chicken stock (or water - but the stock is better).

Add the salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and creole seasoning.

Stir everything to combine.

Cook over medium/high heat until you reach a simmer. 

It took me 10-15 minutes.

Cook for an hour at a slow simmer, uncovered.

I gave my soup a stir every 10 minutes or so. I obsess.

It actually allowed the veggies and the peas to break down very well, so if you like a creamy texture, give it a stir as many times as you'd like. 

If you want it a little more chunky, stir as little as possible until the peas are done.

When your time is up, remove the ham hocks, bay leaf and ham eye bone and make sure the salt and pepper are to your liking. I didn't add anything.

*A note on the ham hocks: 

I know some people take the meat form the hocks, but I didn't really find any useable meat on mine. All gristle and tendons. If you have meaty hocks, use the meat, if not, don't worry, just toss them.

This soup was fantastic. 

Smokey, salty and creamy. Everything I love about split pea soup. 

I was amazed at how much flavor was developed in only an hour.


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