Tag Archives: low salt

Easy Peasy Split Pea Soup with Ham Bone in the Crock Pot

9 Jan
Split Pea Soup with Ham Bone

Split Pea Soup with Ham Bone

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?

Split Pea Soup Veggies ad Parsley

Split Pea Soup Veggies and Parsley

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.

How to Make a Tasty Low-Salt Chicken or Turkey Broth

9 Jan

Homemade Turkey Broth

As promised, I’ll share my secrets to making a soup base from chicken or turkey, that is both low salt and also deliciously rich and eye-pleasing. Well, there aren’t really that many secrets to it, but a few extra “ingredients” can go a long way in stocking your freezer with plenty of tasty soup stock in the months ahead.

When my husband was told quite a few years ago he had to take high-blood pressure medicine and go on a low-salt diet, I knew it was time to get serious about not using pre-processed canned or packaged items, including any form of chicken bullion. That went right out of the cupboard. Many years before that, though, I did make homemade chicken broth, but on a very irregular basis, and half the time I would forget about those containers in the freezer until they were so ice-crystal laden and freezer burnt that the thought of using them made me cringe.

I have always loved reading cookbooks, almost as a hobby in itself. One year after college, I received — probably from my mother — a boxed set of cookbooks by Jeff Smith, also known as The Frugal Gourmet. I think he came up in the news in years past about some unsavory behavior, but I didn’t follow it that close, and refuse to taint the image of his delightful shows on TV and the wonderful hours of reading his stories accompanying the recipes. But I do remember two great tips from his books.

You know those pesky onions skins that wreak havoc with your garbage disposal? Why throw them out? If you add those onion skins to the pot, they help develop a beautiful yellow base to your broth. That doesn’t look low-salt at all, does it now? Just wash the onion before chopping it, and don’t bother peeling the skin. Throw it into the water! Regarding celery, don’t chop off those leaves on the end either. The celery leaves have just as much flavor (or more) as the stalk. Toss them right in, too. Those two hints really led me to the start of my journey of making some great homemade broth.

My next tip regards garlic. Freshly pressed garlic has a wonderful aroma and taste, but the jars of pre-minced garlic have a place of their own. The juice from the jar is packed with flavor that heightens the otherwise blandness of a low-to-no-sodium broth. When making the broth, in addition to adding the minced garlic (which will get strained off in the end), add some of the juice from the jar. This will add a depthness of flavor to your broth that no salt could replace.

My last tip is Mrs. Dash. There are some wonderful flavors available now of these no-salt herb substitutes, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed with this in your cooking. This brand even has a Southwest Chipotle flavor! We use many of them liberally in our cooking now.

I’ll be completely vague with the amounts, because you can use this recipe whether you are using an entire chicken or turkey carcass, or just poaching a couple of chicken breasts for an enchilada recipe. Just learn to eyeball the amounts you think you will need depending on how much you are making. Half the fun of cooking is experimenting. OK, on to the recipe.

Low-Salt Chicken (or Turkey) Broth

Chicken or Turkey bones, with or without meat on them
Yellow onion, with skins
Carrots (no don’t peel them, just wash them)
Celery, with the leaves
Minced garlic from a jar, plus some of the oil
Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Blend
Fresh or dried parsley
Salt (if any) and a teaspoon of black peppercorns

In a pot large enough to handle the meat and/or bones, cover with water to at least an inch or more over them. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer three or 4 hours, skimming the top of the pot of any froth and fat that may rise to the surface. When done, drain the broth through a colander or sieve lined with mesh or cheesecloth. Don’t forget to put another pot or receptacle under it during this process. I’ll never forget the time I put the colander in the sink without that, and poured my entire efforts down the drain, lol. You can imagine my shock and dismay when I realized what I had just done. For that reason, I do still keep a couple of cans of low-sodium canned chicken broth in the cupboard.

As a side note, I let the vegetables cool and bag them up in the fridge and add them to my dog’s food as extra yummies the next day or so. Double mileage!

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