There was a ham bone with lots of meat on it leftover from New Year’s day dinner screaming at me from the freezer this past weekend, telling me to make something with it before it got freezer burnt and useless like the last one I saved. So I one-track-minded it over to the grocery store and zipped straight over to the bulk bin section to buy dried split peas before I forgot to buy them. I have seriously gone to the store with a written list before and have forgotten the ONE ITEM I really went to the store to buy. I mean, really.
OK, and I confess. I didn’t zip straight over to the peas. I had to go through the produce section to get to the bulk aisle, and grabbed more carrots in case I needed them (I didn’t) and somehow the wonton wrappers caught my eye and it reminded me of another soup I wanted to make, so grabbed those too. And just below the wonton wrappers were the fresh ginger pieces. I was pretty sure the other soup had ginger in it, so picked up a chunk of that too. Then I remembered it called for cabbage. I had to backtrack for that. The cabbages in stock were the size of basketballs! I grabbed one anyways and could barely stuff it into the plastic veggie bag. On my way out of produce, my eye then caught the pre-shredded cole slaw packages. Cheap too. OK, forget the basketball. I backtracked again to put it back to let some other soul wrastle with the beastie. NOW I was on my way to the split peas. I did get them, I really did. Oooh, and I bought fresh parsley too! I don’t do that often, I usually use the dried flakes. But it was cheap too. Now I have enough to decorate plates for weeks to come, if it doesn’t turn into a soggy green mush pile in the bottom of my veggie drawer.
On to the recipe. I have made this throughout the years and just wing it, like most things I’ve done that I’ve made for years. A ham bone in the freezer + one pound of split peas + carrots, celery, and onion + chicken broth + seasonings = Split Pea Soup. Easy Peasy, right?
Split Pea Soup with Ham
1 pound dried split peas, rinsed
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped,
1 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed thyme
2 bay leaves
Mrs. Dash Seasoning, any kind, or salt to taste
Lots of ground black pepper
1 ham bone with plenty of meat attached, frozen or not
8 to 10 cups of chicken or turkey broth, homemade preferably, or low salt
Chop up all those purdy veggies and parsley first and throw them in the crock pot with the split peas. They make a pretty picture that’s for sure, don’t they?
Next, add all the seasonings, then the ham bone. You really don’t have to defrost it if it’s frozen because it cooks so long. I had a large Tupperware container of turkey broth that measured just at 7 1/2 cups that I had made from my leftover turkey carcass from Thanksgiving in the freezer. You can use chicken broth too, of course. I defrosted that then poured it into the crock pot. (Oh you will need a 5 to 6 quart crock pot for this.) You want enough broth to cover the ham hock and I was about a half-inch shy, so I just added just enough water to cover so you can do that too, if needed. There’s plenty of tastiness in this dish to not make a difference. Now is the easy-peasy part. Put the crock pot on low, then fuhgedaboutit for 8 to 10 hours. We left the house later in the day to watch NFL football playoffs at a sports bar, and no, the house did not burn down and we came home to a wonderful aroma of dinner just waiting for us! After 8 or so hours or if you can’t wait to dive into this soup, scoop out about four or five cups of it (oh gosh don’t forget to remove the bay leaves first) and blend it in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return it to the pot. Next, remove the ham bone (the meat will be literally falling off it), shred the meat and discard the bone and any fatty pieces, then return the ham to the pot. Now you can serve in a bowl. Don’t forget to chrunchle (my new fave word) saltine crackers into the soup. That makes it really thick and yummy all over. OH, and hah! When I checked out of the grocery store on that same trip, I had picked up some unsalted Saltine crackers for this too (AFTER getting the split peas, thank you) and the checker picked them up and said, “Really? How can you call a Saltine a Saltine with no salt?” Well that gave me chuckle for the day, I hope it did for you too.