Smooth, Homemade Split Pea & Smoked Ham Soup

Split pea with ham soupOK, second try it turned out perfect. Read on for how I did that….One of my favorite soups growing up in the Midwest was split pea with ham. My dad was a government worker so we didn’t go all out with food. Mostly the Campbell’s soups. Over the years I’ve tried numerous split pea soups beyond the condensed version. There’s some pretty good ones on the shelves these days. But not exactly what I wanted. So as I was shopping for my Bean & Ham soup, I found a bag of dried, green split peas. I thought, Wow! Now’s my chance to experiment and see what I can do with my own hearty, hammy, hot, deliciousness.

So I tried this recipe a few weeks ago, and it wasn’t quite what I wanted. Today (January 7, 2012) I tried it again. This is it! I finally got it just right. Deana even likes it, and she isn’t much of a bean/pea soup lover. The difference is the previous recipe used only water, did not have the garlic, and didn’t saute the onions, garlic & carrots first. Also, I added a little more spices like the cajun and basil/rosemary/sage mix.

It takes about 15 minutes to get everything ready, and about 1-1/2 hours to cook it all.

What You Need

1 lb. green split peas, dried

8 cups chicken stock (two 32 oz boxes) – I just got the Kroger brand – no preservatives.

split peas dried
1 medium yellow onion – chopped fine
6-8 cloves of fresh garlic – diced
1 tsp. basil – fresh, diced
1-1/2 cup smoked, diced ham – with some nice size chunks, too. This time I used the “super smoked” ham that I smoked for over 4 hours.
1 carrot, washed with a veggie brush, don’t peel it – leave those good nutrients in there – diced
1 ham hock/ham bone from a smoked ham (our preference is smoked)onion garlic carrot optional
4 tbs. butter or Smart Balance for guilt-free butter
1 tsp. sea salt, or Himalayan natural salt
1 Tsp. Cajun seasoning or Lowery’s seasoned salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. basil, rosemary & sage spice (optional, but adds a tiny bit of flavor)
2 bay leaves
1 dollop of Fage Greek yogurt – fat free (our fave) or Swiss Quark.basil rosemary sage spice dip colorado foodies

Check and Rinse
Rinse the peas while checking for pebbles, discolored peas, etc. by putting the peas in a large bowl and adding water. Swish them around a pick out what you want. Dump the water out carefully not to lose many peas. split peas

Saute
Pick a nice size soup pot. I prefer stainless steel instead of aluminum for health reasons.  Saute the onion, carrot and garlic in the butter/Smart Balance on med-low heat till transparent – about 10 minutes. This makes the house smells so good. Mmmm. saute onions garlic carrorBelow is the actual ham smoking that we used in our recipe today. I found a bag marked”HS” in the freezer…that means ‘High Smoke’. I think the secret to the soup’s perfection is in the ham’s smoke. It was smoked for over 4 hours and has what we call “super smoke” flavor….way over-the-top smoky flavor. We buy the pre-sliced, bone-in sliced ham in the red foil from Costco. I’ve tried others from the grocery store, but these are the best taste for the dollar spent. I used none of the topping that comes in the package. I used a combination of about 3/4 hickory wood and 1/4 apple wood.

smoke ham smoker foodies in colorado
When we open the bag of ham, the aromas in the kitchen are overtaken by smoky ham – it is sooooo good! Deana and I looked and looked and just could not find the ham hock from the last ham smoking. So I did not use it this time.

smoked ham

Boil in a Soup Pot
Now put the burner on medium-high heat. Add the peas, chicken stock, ham bone/hock, ham, basil, spices (except salt), and bay leaf to the soup pot.

Cover loosely and heat to boiling for 30 minutes. Turn heat down a little but keep it boiling. Stir occasionally.

split pea soup homemade

We prefer the pea soup to be very smooth and thick. Take out the ham hock and let cool. Cut off the meat and put in the soup. I used a potato masher to smash the peas for a smoother soup. Do that right in the soup pot. Smash for about 5 minutes or to your liking. split pea soup foodies colorado

You may have to simmer covered for about another 1/2 hour or until desired smoothness. Sit often. You’ll probably have to add more stock or water. Add no more than a cup at a time.

Taste test for smoothness. Add the salt and stir. Though you can let the others add their own salt to taste.

split pea soup receipe foodies coloradoIt’s ready!

split pea soup foodies in colorado marty koenig

Ladle into your favorite soup bowl. Add your dollup of yogurt or quark. I put just a pinch of bacon salt on the quark.split pea soup colorado foodie

Dip your favorite baguette or toast.

Refrigerate the rest, or put in quart bags and freeze flat. It thickens up a lot when cold, and I like to a reconstitute it with some milk – it’s great a little creamy.

Even Deana was impressed this time! Very simple but wow, it turned out great! 

You can also serve it ice-cold with chopped green onions on top for a nice, cold salad/soup. If you want to warm it up, you’ll probably need to add a little water, or perhaps even a little milk.