Split Pea Soup with Ham with homemade croutons

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First full 40 hour week after the holidays completed – yikes that was tough this time after most of December was very slow. So this week there was not really a lot of time for cooking but fortunately I had this yummy Split Peak Soup in the freezer that I had cooked right after the New Year.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 1/4 cups dried split peas (1 packet)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lbs smoked ham, bone in
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or chopped)
  • 2 medium celery ribs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 potatoes (cubed)
  • Croutons (optional)*

Recipe:

  1. In a big Dutch Oven heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the cut up carrots, onion and celery and brown for 3-5 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and brown for 30 more seconds.
  2. Add water, ham and peas. Season with salt and pepper, add the bay leave and thyme.
  3. Heat to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer until peas are tender, about an hour and a half.
  4. Skim fat if necessary after you brought the soup to a boil.
  5. 30 Minutes prior to the soup being ready, toss in the but up potatoes and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. After 1,5 hour remove the ham bone, trim fat and bone from ham. Cut ham into 1/2 inch pieces (or smaller) and put back into the soup.
  7. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top each serving with croutons.

Comments:

  1. I like my soup a little bit more “runny” and not creamy so I used 10 cups instead of only 8 cups of water and only 2 cups of peas.
  2. Some recipes call for an immersion mixer or to mix ½ of the soup in a blender, I didn’t think that was needed, but it you like a more “creamy” soup I would blend the soup at the end (just make sure you take out the ham and the meat pieces).
  3. I omitted the onion and take out the carrots and celery just before I serve the soup – you might remember I have a non veggie eating husband – so if you like your carrots and celery more crisp, put them into the soup 45 minutes prior to the soup being ready and just start off the soup with browning the onions and garlic only and then back to step #2. That way you end up with crispy veggies.
  4. I used the left over ham bone with quite a bit of ham left on it that we had from our New Year’s dinner. If you only use Ham Hawks you will not have a lot of meat. Check with the butcher if they have a little ham in bone for you or use a ham hawk or two and add a packet of the cubed ham you can find in the meat section. Let the cubed ham cook for the entire time, I think it makes it softer and the seasonings penetrate the ham a little bit.
  5. You don’t have to serve the soup with Croutons, I just liked the crunch and I had homemade croutons left over from the week prior when I made my own Caesar salad dressing and made homemade croutons *

*How to make Croutons:

  1. Take ½ or a full loaf of older crusty bread and cut into cubes, toss into a big bowl.
  2. Mix ¼ cup of good olive oil with 1,5 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic (or if you don’t have fresh garlic handy, garlic salt is a great substitution) in a small bowl.
  3. Now toss the oil/salt/pepper/garlic mixture over the bread cubes and mix well.
  4. Spread cubes out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes on 350 degrees in the oven.
  5. Once cooled out you can store the croutons for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. I hate having to throw away stale bread, so making homemade croutons is such a great use for bread you wouldn’t have other use for, or grind the cubes up for homemade breading.

Guten Appetit!

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