Green Pea and Ham Soup

I am home in California, visiting my parents for the holidays.  Today in the San Francisco Bay Area it is bitterly cold.  Unusual for this area, it was a mere 38 degrees when I woke up today.  But, it’s beautiful, and the most perfect day for soup.

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My mom and I went to the farmers’ market this morning and nearly froze our hands off selecting local carrots for this split pea soup.

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Split pea is extremely satisfying – a comfort soup without a lot of guilt.  It’s dairy free, gluten free, and except for the flavorful ham hock the soup cooks in, it could be vegetarian, too.  But, the ham is necessary for a full-bodied, flavorful soup.  Chop your medley of vegetables: carrots, a yellow onion, celery and garlic.  Cook it all together in a nice olive oil and fresh rosemary.

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The main ingredient, of course is the split peas.  Use green or yellow.

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Soup is easy, but takes time for the flavors to really come together.  After 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your pan and stove, you’ll get soft peas and a soup that you might just be willing to burn your mouth for.  (I hate waiting.)

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Remove the ham — and save it, of course!  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender and blend part of the soup in batches.  I like a chunkier soup, so I used an immersion blender on low speed for about a minute or so.

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Top with sliced ham and serve.  This soup is lovely with a crusty baguette for dipping!

Recipe (inspired by Gluten Free Girl)

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Carrots – about a cup peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 small ham hock
  • 2 cups green split peas
  • 5 cups broth (I used both organic chicken and vegetable)
  • salt and pepper, to taste (keep in mind, the broth and ham are salty)
  1. Prepare the vegetables. Meantime, heat a dutch oven or large sauce pan with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, celery, and garlic. Cook until soft, 7-10 minutes.
  2. Wash and chop the fresh rosemary. Add to the vegetable medley and cook for another minute or so, stirring.
  3. Add the whole ham hock, washed split peas, and broth. Stir. Bring liquid to a boil and stir, then turn heat to low and cover. Let the soup simmer for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your stovetop. Test the peas, they should be soft.
  4. Once the  peas are soft, remove the ham. Then use a blender (remove about 3/4 of the soup) or an immersion blender to puree some, but not all of the soup. I like my soup chunky so I ran the immersion blender for about a minute on low speed.
  5. Serve immediately with chopped ham on top, or store in an airtight container once the soup has cooled.
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