Unless you’re David Copperfield or Doug Henning, you can’t make split pea soup look beautiful. I must have taken 25 shots of it in every kind of light and it still looked like split pea soup. I almost wrapped a feather boa around the bowl, to dress it up, but decided to go with honesty. Because just like with prospective mates, sometimes you have to look past appearances to truly appreciate what’s sitting in front of you.
Trust me, there’s nothing like creamy split pea soup dotted with bits of ham. For me, it’s like spotting an iceberg — the bits of ham on the surface hinting at what’s underneath. I’m always thrilled when I scoop up a huge meaty ham chunk. (Yeah, I know I need to get out more. If ham chunks in split pea soup make me this happy, I clearly have no life.)
I also like it because it reminds me of what Yoda cooked for Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back — more proof I have no life. (You’d be surprised how many people (including me) have Googled what Yoda cooked for Luke — Scary.)
There is the teeny problem of fiber overload, but take a couple of Beano before eating the soup and you’re good to go. Or, only make it when your spouse is away and you’re stocked up on air-freshener and matches. You can make it and freeze it too!
Whatever you do, don’t go to some restaurant where they say they have really good split pea soup because they don’t. Any time I’ve ordered it anywhere, it’s been a disappointment with almost invisible specks of ham and watery soup.
I love a soup with substance, and this recipe I found on a package of split peas (with a few changes by me) has that. Let the cold weather come, you’ll be ready. It’s not as pretty as my lemon ricotta cookies but will keep you full a lot longer.
Split Pea Soup
1 lb. bag of dried split peas
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove minced
1 cup carrot chopped
2 TBSP vegetable or olive oil
1 ham bone with a healthy amount of ham still on it (Can you use ham and healthy in the same sentence?)
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
Sort and rinse peas. In a heavy 4 quart pot, saute celery, onion, garlic and carrot until onion is tender, but not browned. Add rinsed peas, ham bone, potato, pepper, water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the pan, until peas are very tender, about 3 hours or more. Remove ham bone, cut meat from bone and discard bone. (Some people like to puree their soup — I like mine chunky. The split pea police will not be checking on you, so do what you like.) Place chopped ham back in soup pan. Remove bay leave before you serve it. You can add a dollop of sour cream if you like, but it’s good just as it is!