It is soup weather here, no doubt about it. This is one of my favorites, with its hearty, stick to the ribs texture and earthy flavor. My father loved to make this soup when there was a leftover ham bone from a festive meal. This recipe may come in handy if you plan to serve ham for Christmas or New Year dinner. But, if not, don’t worry. You can use a small chunk of cured or smoked ham as a starter for the soup, and get a very good result. I add aromatics in the form of onion, celery, carrot and dried herbs. I also include some dried beans along with both green and yellow split peas. This is the version that Dad loved so much. Feel free to garnish your soup with even more pork; crunchy bacon is great, as well as fresh herbs, if you have them. Settle in with a bowl of piping hot soup and some good bread and prepare to be fortified against the chill of December. Enjoy!
Split Pea Soup with Ham
- ⅓ cup dried, small white beans, such as navy beans
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
- 1 large celery stalk, peeled and diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped thyme leaves)
- 5 to 6 cups of water, or a combination of water and low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup yellow split peas
- 1 cup green split peas
- A leftover ham bone, or a 2½ to 3 pound piece of bone-in ham, shank or ham hock, skin scored in several places
- A large bay leaf
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- The juice of half a large, fresh lemon
- The day before you want to make the soup, soak the white beans. Or, use the quick soak method: place the beans in a heavy saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and cover. Let stand for 1 hour. Drain and use as directed.
- In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, reduce the heat to medium, and cover the pot. Sweat the vegetables until they are soft, but not browned. Add the dried or fresh thyme and a pinch of salt. Add the water, soaked white beans, yellow split peas, green split peas, the ham, and the bay leaf. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, cover the pot, and let cook until the white beans are tender. The split peas will be almost dissolved at this point. Add more water along the way if you sense that the mixture is too thick. It may take up to an hour and a half for the beans to cook.
- When the beans are tender, take the ham bone out of the pot and set aside on a cutting board. Ladle about half of the soup into a blender jar and blend to a smooth puree. Return to the pot and check the seasoning. Add salt and pepper as desired, and lemon juice to balance the earthiness of the soup. When the ham is cooled enough to handle, cut off the meat and shred or dice it into spoonable pieces. Add the ham back to the pot and reheat the soup. Serve piping hot, garnished with crisp bacon or additional fresh herbs, if you like. Leftovers can be stored in a tightly closed container, in the refrigerator, for 2 to 3 days.