Thursday, March 18, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Time has leaped forward and spring is sproinging, but I was in the mood for split pea soup nonetheless. On the advice of one of the Canales butchers, I made sure to procure smoked ham hocks for it - and I think that's made a delicious difference, at least compared to the soup mixes I used to settle for. My recipe's mostly based on this one, albeit with less oil, less water and more aromatics; it also took far longer to cook on my finicky stove (I regret losing the bones for the last half hour, for example). It's a good, solidly-flavored soup, with a lovely smoky depth from the hock (though I only used water, not stock); next time I'll probably add some garlic, keep the bones in the entire time, and start experimenting with spices.
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil (could probably make do with less)
  • 1-1/2 c. onion, diced (one huge one)
  • 3/4 c. celery, diced (about 3 thinnish stalks)
  • 3/4 c. carrot, diced (about 1-1/2 medium ones)
  • 1-1/2 lb. smoked ham hock
  • 1 lb. split peas, rinsed and picked over
  • 6-8 cups water or broth (used 6)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Put the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion till beginning to soften, about 2-5 minutes. Add the celery and carrot; saute till they grow aromatic - another 2-5 minutes.

Add the ham hock (recipe says to score it but I'm not sure why, except perhaps for ease of meat removal later - and it didn't seem to make that much of a difference, convenience-wise), peas and water. Bring to a boil then simmer, uncovered, till peas are almost but not quite disintegrated - recipe says about an hour, took nearly two on my stove.

(Note: Some like to puree some or all of the soup; I prefer as-is slight chunkiness.) Remove the ham hock and let it cool. Season the soup to your liking. Remove the meat from the ham hock, shred it, and use it as garnish for the soup.

NOTE (20 March): The above picture was taken maybe 30 minutes-1 hour before the soup was actually done the way I like it - almost thick enough to be a stew.

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