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It Ain’t Pretty, But Man, is it Good!

October 14, 2014

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!


  • Reply
    Apparently, I AM My Mother | At Fran's Table
    August 23, 2017 at 6:00 am

    […] bone that won the Sophie’s Choice decision. Here’s a link to an old blog post with that Split Pea Soup Recipe. It’ll come in handy this fall and winter. I’m also going to wash all my plastic bags, […]

  • Reply
    A Bold Ham Statement. | At Fran's Table
    January 10, 2016 at 6:32 am

    […] Pork Smothered in Sauerkraut, Stuffed Porkchops, Herbed Juicy Pork Roast, Pork Adobo, Pulled Pork, Split Pea Soup with Chunks of Ham — the list goes on and on. But today it’s Sweet Glazed Ham with Pineapple and Apricot […]

  • Reply
    Matilda Novak
    October 24, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Actually Franzy (And Nicol) I love me a good split pea soup as well! My Mama is a genius level cook and baker (lucky us)…and my twin got her enormous talent — while i, like my father, am a world-class Eater. We all have our gifts!
    Anyway, thank you for every blessed thing you share. You do my heart, and my stomach, Good….

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      October 25, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Thank you so much Matilda for reading and taking the time to comment. I so appreciate your support! Glad to hear I’m not alone in my split pea obsession.

  • Reply
    Nicol Zanzarella
    October 18, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I am brought immediately back to my grandmother’s kitchen table in Yonkers, NY…plastic table cloth (for protection of course), hunks of crusty Italian bread on the side, cool fall nights, the smoky smell of the ham hock slow cooking in the pea soup… It used to be my job, with both the dry peas and the lentils, to “sort” them before they went in the soup! Miss those days like crazy. Wish I could have them back with my Grandma as the adult I am now. Would love to hear what those kitchen talks would have sounded like today…

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      October 18, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Awww Nicol, I wish you could have them back too. We don’t realize how good we have it as kids until we get older. What a great grandma! I’m glad you like split pea soup, because no one else apparently does but me!

  • Reply
    Fran Tunno
    October 15, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    I don’t order it at restaurants, I only eat mine. (What a snob I am.) And yes, regular is a good way to put it.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    I am sure YOURS I would like Fran, but I am not sure about whether to ever order it at any restaurant. I imagine it might keep one quite regular, if you catch my drift. Looking forward to the Fran Tunno school of cooking – 101 when you get home. Ha!

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