Well, another festive season has come and passed and some of us are again left to deal with the remnants of the holiday meal! Let’s get one thing straight – I only make a giant ham twice a year: at Christmas and at Easter. OK, sometimes at Thanksgiving, too, but I’m a Ukrainian — we always overcook. Anyway – that bone-in smoked ham is something I look forward to — mostly for the leftovers that come after the feast has happened.
You may remember my hangover soup recipe after Christmas this year; today I’m going to share with you the easiest split pea and ham soup recipe. I’m not going to lie, it was the sole reason I even made a ham this Easter.
This soup is made with a lot of really basic pantry items and freezes well, too. Even though we are in the beginning of spring, we still have those dreary days that call for a warm bowl of soup, so it’s nice to pull a comforting little portion out of the freezer.
2-3 tbsp olive oil (enough to cover bottom of your biggest stock pot)
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tsp dried)
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves (or ½ tsp dried)
2 cups dried green split peas
8 cups chicken, ham or vegetable stock
1 ham bone + 2 cups chopped leftover ham
1 ½ cups grated or finely chopped carrot (I pulsed it though the food processor)
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Add the olive oil to your stock pot and heat over medium. Sauté the celery, onion and herbs over medium until the vegetables are soft and translucent — about 10 minutes, being careful not to let the onions brown. The next step is dead easy; add the stock of your choosing, the dried peas, the ham bone and chopped ham. Stir together and bring this to boil over medium-high heat, skimming any “foam” that comes to the top. Once the soup has reached a mellow boil, drop the heat to medium-low, loosely cover and simmer for about an hour, or until the peas have softened. Stir once or twice, but don’t obsess over it.
Once the peas have softened, carefully remove the bone from the soup; more meat may have fallen from the bone and that’s OK — it’s actually really good. Take out about a cup-and-a-half of the pea/ham mixture and set aside. Using a potato masher, smash up the peas in the pot until nice and mushy. Now add the reserved pea mixture, along with the grated carrots back into the pot, stir and simmer over low heat for about another hour.
Take a taste and season with black pepper — I highly doubt any added salt will be necessary, as ham is naturally salty, but everyone is different and if you see fit, let your sodium freak flag fly.
That has got to be one of the easiest soups I’ve ever made, and it tastes like it was literally slaved over for days. As with most soups and stews, it tastes even better the next day — serve with a nice crusty bun or crisp bread slathered with butter — you’ve got yourself a great meal!