We LOVE soups. Soup works really well with our lifestyle. With my boyfriend on the road so much, bowls of soup travel well and reheat awesome in his truck. Anything convenient that helps keep McDonald's and Subway out of his diet is a bonus. And, it is simple for me to have a bowl when eating alone, rather than making a steak for one? In wanting to try a new kind of soup, I finally decided to give the, always avoided, Split Pea Soup a chance. I love pea's, so it has always been the appearance of the Split Pea Soup that scared me away.
The other exciting part of trying this soup, was finally breaking in my Julia Child, "The Way to Cook", cookbook. It was a Christmas gift from my mom a year ago, and I have read it and referenced it many times, but never actually followed one of Julia's recipes. This was it! I liked her recipe offering the idea of finishing the recipe as a "Rough peasanty texture", and just mashing the veggies and peas, rather than making a puree out of it and ending up with the soup that I have avoided for years.
This was a very tasty soup, I am so glad I took the time to make the ham stock, as I am sure that made a huge difference. It was definitely a stick to your ribs soup, that was very filling.
Split Pea Soup (adapted from Julia Child - "The Way to Cook")
For the Stock
2 ham hocks (rinsed) and any ham scraps you have on hand.
3 quarts of water
1 c. chopped carrot
1 c. chopped onion
1 large rib celery, chopped
Herb bouquet ( 3 bay leaves, 1 tsp thyme, and 5 cloves; tied in cheesecloth)
For the Soup
3 T. Butter
2/3 c. diced celery
2/3 c. diced onion
1/2 c. diced carrot
1/2 c. diced potato
3 T. Flour
2 quarts ham stock
1 1/2 c. green split peas (washed and drained)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
To make the stock:
Place ham hocks in pot. Add enough water to cover by two inches. Add any extra ham scraps, the chopped vegetables and herb bouquet. Simmer 3 to 4 hours with lid to one side, to allow for air circulation; salt lightly after an hour or so and skim occasionally. Strain and degrease. Cut away outer skin on ham hocks, remove meat from bones, and reserve for soup.
To make the soup:
Set saucepan over moderately high heat, add butter. Once melted, add vegetables and saute, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add in the flour; cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool briefly. Add in the ham stock, ham and the split peas. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. Cover loosely and simmer about one hour, or until peas are tender. Taste after half hour of simmering and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
At this point, you can puree the soup if desired, for a smooth texture. I used my potato masher, to just mash up the peas and vegetables a bit. Adjust seasoning again, if needed.