Monday, December 27, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup at Christmas time has become a tradition in our family. Actually anything we do once and like becomes a tradition. My sister had a friend named Art and he brought a Honeybaked Ham to my parents house for a meal. Instant heaven. Once you eat the delicious sweet ham, you can't just throw away the bone! You have to make soup. A Honeybaked ham bone makes the world's best soup.

One complication of this tradition is that Tara is a vegetarian. We can't have a meal that exists solely of soup and bread as she will be reduced to eating only bread and that isn't nice. On the other hand I don't want to have to make two different meals...that isn't nice. So I make a ham based soup and a veggie based soup at the same time in two different pans. Here is how that works. Now, you have to understand that I don't rely on a recipe, so I make it slightly different each time. Here is how I made it this year.

Split Pea Soup....with and without ham!

Chicken broth..whatever you have on hand. I use what I have and water if needed or just water.
Vegetable broth....two cans
2 bags split peas
celery if you have some.
chopped garlic
A wee bit of olive oil, or skip the saute step and dump the veggies in the pot.

I chopped up the left over onion from the night before. It was a big one so it make about 1 1/2 cups. Then I chopped up about 15 or 20 mini carrots and a couple of celery sticks. I have never used celery and thought it would be nice.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of EVOO in a large stock pot and a medium sized saucepan. I put about 1/4 of the chopped veggies in the small pan and the rest in the large pan reserving the garlic. Garlic will turn bitter pretty quick, so I sauteed the veggies a few minutes over medium and then added the garlic. I have also just dumped them in the pan without oil and I don't notice a real difference in taste.

After the garlic cooked for about a minute...OK, let's be honest here. I don't time it. After I dumped in the garlic I dumped the ham bone in the big pot.

I added one and one half of the split peas and then added the chicken stock (I had one can) and poured in about 3 cups of water. I didn't wait or time anything. This is a EASY recipe!!

Then I added the last of the split peas to the smaller pan and pored in the 2 cans of vegetable stock. I turned up the heat to medium high on both pans. While I was waiting for the pans to boil, I cleaned up the kitchen and then after they boiled I turned down the pans and went in to rest. WHEW!

OK. In reality I came in and stirred every 30 minutes or so and had to turn down the heat a bit and once I had to add water to the ham based version as it was getting too thick, but basically I had 2 hours of nothin'. Hey! It's Christmas! I had a lot of recuperating to do! The hardest part is remembering which is the spoon I stir the ham based soup with and which is for the veggie version.

After 2 hours or three, who's counting? I took out the ham bone. Now I don't like to eat meat with fat or gristle, so I painstakingly cut off the parts I don't like and returned the chopped up bits to the soup. I might even add an extra slice or two of the ham all chopped up as I like a lot of ham in my soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Guess what? You are done, now! You can keep it warm on the stove while you make some sort of interesting bread. We just toasted some we had leftover from another meal. This is the meal I make after all the fancy holiday meals and it is really EASY. And it is DELICIOUS!

When our kids were little, Split Pea Soup was hard to say (you say it three times fast!) One of the kids, who shall be nameless, not to protect their privacy or anything, but because I can't remember, called it Spit Sea Poop. I must admit that we still call it that. There is a chance that you will also call it that, because the tongue finds that easier for some reason. Just don't slip up and call it that in a restaurant. But if you do, please let me know!

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