Sure it’s June, which is not really soup season, at least not for me. But it’s chilly. And I discovered a couple of ham hocks in the freezer, along with a jar of dried split peas on the pantry shelf. Ham hocks + split peas = split pea soup!
I consulted a number of recipes before throwing this one together. For starters, check out The Joy of Cooking if you want a basic recipe for Split Pea Soup. I also have a Crockpot recipe that I referenced for ingredients, although I made my soup in a stock pot because I didn’t want to leave it cooking on the counter for eight hours. And, I looked at Bon Appetit’s (December, 1992) Smoky Split Pea and Root Vegetable Soup for ideas on cook times and quantities.
In the end, I used about 1 1/2 pounds of dried split peas and three quarts of water.
First, I sautéed four small carrots and two medium onions in olive oil until tender. (I would definitely add a couple of stalks of chopped celery but I didn’t have any on hand.)
Then I added some dried marjoram and thyme, plus two bay leaves.
These are ham hocks, or, um, pigs’ feet. They came from happy pigs. I guess you could say they’re happy feet. I am not a ham fan, as I’ve already opined, but I do think the meat from ham hocks is really good in soup. (Or with lentils or beans.) It’s just so meaty–not like that water-logged grocery store “ham”. Plus, I like the idea of using all the parts of an animal. These came from the half a pig we bought last year.
After sauteing the veggies and herbs, I simply added the peas, ham hocks, and water to the pot. Then I simmered with the lid partially on for about 45 minutes.
Once the peas were soft, I removed the ham hocks and pulled the meat off them; then added the meat back into the pot.
Then I simmered the soup for another hour, stirring occasionally, until the soup was nicely thickened.
It’s really a meal in itself. Have a slice of bread with it and you’re set for the night. Peas have lots of fiber in them. You could easily make this recipe without the meat for a vegetarian version.