I know what you’re thinking right now. Split pea soup is flat out ugly. It’s a shame really, since the peas, er legumes, start out so promising as bright little grassy green disks. When they cook, well, that’s another story. They transform into baby food pureed pea impersonators. Army green mush that … well … I don’t want to dwell here on the negatives as the picture says it all. But before you flee from this page, just know that the positives far outweigh the unfortunate color. This soup is so worth it, in an early spring rainy weeknight stick-to-your ribs soup and sandwich dinner sort of way. Of course, I probably wouldn’t feed this to anyone I was trying to impress, but feed this to the people you love and they’ll love you all the more for it.
It’s as easy as throwing all of the ingredients in a big pot. Let them simmer away for about two hours, shred the meat from the ham bone, blend, and serve. The silky puree is hearty and probably good for you because, lets face it, most ugly green foods are good for you (yes, dinosaur kale, I’m talking about you). It is meaty and rich and so satisfying. It reheats well too. I ate some again for lunch the next day, and maybe a little more as an afternoon snack. I sorta wished I could have eaten it again for dinner the following night but no one needs that much fiber in one day.
The hardest part, of course, is finding the ham bone. You can ask your local butcher for one. Or, I’ve been known to steal one right from under my host’s nose at any holiday buffet featuring a spiral ham – Christmas, Easter, you name it. Try it. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced ½ – inch thick
- 2 small or 1 large onion, sliced ½ – inch thick
- 2 celery stalks, sliced ½ – inch thick
- 1 pound split peas, rinsed, drained, and picked through for small stones
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ham bone from a spiral ham
- 8 cups of water or a combination of water and unsalted chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a 5 to 6-quart Dutch oven or other large heavy pot over medium heat, combine the olive oil, carrots, onion, and celery, split peas, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Add the ham bone and the water. Cover and bring up to a boil. Stir, reduce to a simmer, and partially cover. Cook for two hours, stirring occasionally, until the split peas are tender and starting to fall apart.
- Remove the ham bone and any chunks of ham that may have fallen off the bone during cooking to a cutting board. Puree the soup until smooth, using an immersion blender or regular blender. Using a fork and knife, shred the remaining ham from the bone – it should be quite tender. Return the ham to the pot and stir to combine.
- Serve immediately or hold for up to five days in the refrigerator.