Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Split Pea Soup

Poor Benjamin had his wisdom teeth out today.  So he's been stuck with ice packs to his face all day, while I was stuck with handing out Vicodin and crushing ice cubes in an old Magic Bullet.  And dishing out lukewarm bowls of homemade split pea soup.  Because that's what you serve recent mouth surgery patients, right?  You know, in between making ice packs that aren't too warm, aren't too cold.  Ice packs that are just right...

Anyways, Ben got split pea soup because that's what I made.  Because I had a leftover ham bone from Easter brunch.  And because split pea soup is what you make with leftover hambones.  It's simple logic derived from many childhood years of ham giving way to hambones giving way to a giant pot of split pea soup.  I used the same recipe my mom always did, because as far as I am concerned there is no other way to make split pea soup.  It came from the big, orange Betty Crocker Cookbook that was my mother's go to cooking tome for as long as I can remember (which is apparently vintage now and worth $75, according to ebay.  Who knew?).  It's tried, it's trusted, it's scanned and already in my big green cookbook.
If you've never had split pea soup, don't fear it.  Embrace it.  Because, here is the secret, it is chockfull of ham.  Lots and lots of glorious ham.  Sure, there are some vegetables in there too, but the star here is not the split pea.  It's the ham, the glorious, yummy, ham.  And who doesn't like ham?  Ben just said it's wisdom tooth removal certified.  Quite the accolades, right?  Yeah, I think he's still flying high on Vicodin, but I'll take it...

Split Pea Soup
From Betty Crocker's Cookbook, via my mother

This recipe from start to finish would take a few hours.  If you aren't making this on a lazy Saturday afternoon, you can break up the steps.  There are three main chunks to the recipe and I took a day long break between number 2 and 3.  Also, leftovers freeze wonderfully.  And having leftover pea soup in the freezer is a very happy thing.

8 c. water
1 lb. dried split peas
2 lb. ham hock (or hambone and whatever leftover ham you have)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stocks, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

On clean kitchen towel, spread out split peas.  Pick through and discard small rocks, any strange looking peas, etc.  Combine water and peas in large Dutch oven.  Bring to a rolling boil for 2 minutes.  Immediately cover and remove from heat.  Let sit for 1 hour (don't peak!)

Next, add chopped onion and ham hock.  Bring soup again to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, until peas are soft.  If you are breaking the recipe up, stop here and let soup cool down.  Cover and refrigerate. 

Bring soup back up to a boil.  Add carrots, celery, salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for one hour, or until vegetables are cooked through and peas have broken down.  Soup will thicken more up cooling.     

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