When I was a kid, my family would take road trips, and along the highway, big billboards would provide a mileage countdown to arrival at Pea Soup Andersens (http://www.peasoupandersens.net/). I remember getting excited about their “all you can eat” pea soup, but many years later I can’t remember how it tasted. I’ve always shunned pea soup from a can, so it’s been a long time since I’ve fulfilled my craving for pea soup. Curtis Stone’s recipe for Hearty Split Pea Soup was just the motivation I needed for making a big batch of soup from scratch. This version is not thick (like I remembered the pea soup at Andersen’s to be), and the chopped fresh veggies give it more multidimensional texture than the typical pureed consistency. The recipe made so much that I’ve frozen a few servings for a cold, rainy day. I couldn’t find ham hock in the grocery store, so I used a smoked ham shank that was several ounces larger than what the recipe called for. I don’t think the substitution made much of a difference, but I didn’t use very much salt as the ham shank was very salty to begin with.
Hearty Split Pea Soup
(from What’s for Dinner? by Curtis Stone – http://www.curtisstone.com/books; My comments are in italics in [ ]. )
Makes 6 servings
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces [I used 3 carrots because I like carrots]
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 large sprigs of fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound green split peas
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth [I used chicken soup base from Penzey’s Spices-https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/chicken-soup-base/c-24/p-1628/pd-s]
1 14 oz ham hock [my grocery store did not have ham hock so I used an 18 oz smoked ham shank]
- Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme [put the entire sprig into the pot], and cook, stirring occasionaly, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Season with salt and pepper [I did not add much salt as I knew that my ham shank was plenty salty].
- Stir in the split peas, 8 cups of water [I used 7 1/2 cups of water because it didn’t want to soup to be too thin], and the broth. Add the ham hock, cover the pot, and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until the ham hock meat is tender.
- Reduce the heat under the pot to very low. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the ham hock to a cutting board. Let stand for about 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat, discarding the skin and the bone, and chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Stir the ham into the soup. Remove the thyme stems, and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper [I did not need to add extra salt].
Cooking Time: [It took me at least 2 1/2 hours to make this recipe (and I don’t feel like I’m particularly slow), but the original recipe says that it should only take about 2 hours and 10 minutes.]
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