Friday, November 13, 2015

Split Pea Soup

Last Year's Post: Brussels Sprout Leaf Salad
Two Years Ago:  Thai Lettuce Wraps

I'm surprised that I'm posting a recipe for split pea soup, because for most of my life I avoided it like the plague.  I can't remember actually ever trying it but I think I was put off by the whole green glop thing.  Well, I got brave a few years ago (actually I couldn't refuse when it was served to me at a friend's house) and to my surprise, it's really good!  Yes, it still has that green glop thing going on, but a mature person can get past that.  It's rich and comforting on a chilly night, not to mention good for you.

This recipe is particularly easy because you just throw everything in a slow cooker and forget it for 8 hours.  If you want to serve it during the week and will be gone longer than 8 hours, just make it on the weekend and refrigerate it to reheat.  It also freezes well.

The one ingredient that gave me pause was the ham hocks.   I had a dim idea of what a ham hock is, but fully expected to have to make a trek to the local meat shop to find them.  I was so surprised to find them at my local Fry's grocery store that the meat counter employee started laughing at me.  She pointed them out in the meat display and they looked like this.

Mildly disgusting, I know, but they're traditional and they impart great flavor as the soup cooks plus you end up with some ham to shred and add at the end.  

As good as the soup was, the garlic toast really sent it over the top.  All you do is slice up some french bread (seeded baguette worked particularly well), brush it with olive oil, grill (or broil) for about a minute per side, then immediately rub each slice with a cut garlic clove.  Rubbing it after toasting gives it a much fresher garlic flavor and aroma.  The garlicky crisp bread was the perfect accompaniment to the hot creamy soup.  Must. make. the. toast.

One last tip:  I used a manual potato masher to partially mash the soup at the end because I thought an immersion blender would go too quickly and turn everything into a puree.  I wanted some texture.  I think you could also serve it without mashing at all, it's up to you.

print recipe
Split Pea Soup
Serves 8

Note:  this soup freezes well.

1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups cubed peeled Yukon Gold potatoes
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped peeled carrot
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds smoked ham hocks
6 cups water
½ cup sour cream
Parsley leaves, for garnish
Extra black pepper, for garnish

Layer peas and next 9 ingredients (through ham hocks) in the order listed in a 6-quart electric slow cooker.  Gently pour 6 cups water over the top.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove the ham hocks from the slow cooker.  Remove meat from bones and cut into bite-sized pieces; discard skin and bones.  Discard bay leaf.

Coarsely mash soup to desired consistency, adding additional hot water to thin if desired.  Stir in chopped ham. Divide soup evenly among 8 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.  Garnish with parsley leaves and additional black pepper if desired.

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