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When I was little this was known as “green soup”.
You might find it laughable that I didn’t exactly know what “green soup” really was for a long time. I was well past the age of reading when I discovered that the can said “split pea soup” on it. I may have been in high school (holds head in shame). But it was much later than even high school that I endeavored to recreate this childhood favorite – no can necessary.
It begins with what the french call a mirepoix. Or what I call onions, celery, and carrots.
Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Dice up one onion, two celery stalks, and two medium carrots and toss them in the hot skillet. While they cook down grab a large pot and heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in that one too. I love this dutch oven for soups. Also because mine is yellowish-orangey. Just like mac & cheese.
Make sure this pot gets really really hot, okay? We’re going to brown two ham hocks in this pot. And the only way you get a good sear on the outside is if the pot is SUPER hot before you put the meat in. Ham hocks, by the way, are inexpensive yet important pieces to this split pea soup. So don’t ditch the hocks.
Don’t forget about your veggies! Stir them occasionally as they cook down.
When the hocks are browned on all sides just deglaze with a little splash of chicken stock. Stir up any brown bits that may have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Around this time you’ll see that the veggies are soft and the onions are translucent. Time to dump them in the soup pot! Then rip open that bag of split peas. Before you go dumping those in you might want to look through quickly. Often times you’ll find a pebble or two. Sift through the bag first and then dump the split peas in.
Peel 4 garlic cloves and mince before tossing them in. You can chop them up really fine or use a mincer. The only problem I have with using a mincer is how annoying it is to clean! And yet I use it anyway.
Add 2 teaspoons thyme and 2 bay leaves. Then add 6 cups chicken stock and bring to boil. Once it’s rolling away you can turn it back down to low and cover.
Right now everything looks separated but soon the ham hocks will infuse the broth with caramelized savory goodness that comes from searing the outside. You want the peas to get mushy and break down. This could take awhile! I recommend waiting 45 minutes and if they still need more time check every 5 minutes.
Some hocks you buy in the store don’t have much meat and some have a good amount enough to garnish your soup bowl deliciously! If you decide to salvage the meat just set your hocks aside to cool then pick off the good stuff and garnish at the end. These did not and therefor are going straight to the garbage.
I now present to you an invaluable tool. This immersion blender.
I went several years into married life not realizing I even had one in my drawers. Apparently my husband had bought one before we met to make single serving milkshakes using the included attachments. One day, after having lusted after one for months, I realized it was just sitting there. It was an older version of this Braun Multiquick Hand Blender. And I still haven’t upgraded after SO many years; that’s what good quality Braun is that it’s lasted this long!
It’s called an immersion blender because you IMMERSE it into stuff then blend it right there in the pot/bowl/what-have-you. No need to spoon soup into a stand up blender in batches creating more dishes and more mess. Just sink this baby in the pot and go to town. Also used with this fall soup!
Have a taste and decided if you want to add salt and pepper. Sometimes the ham hocks lend enough flavor and salt factor to leave out extra salt. Usually I add some. It can vary from a pinch to a full teaspoon but just add to taste. Since my kids eat this soup I just pepper my own bowl.
Just smooth enough. 🙂
I like to add toast for dipping. There’s something child-like about using bread as a utensil. So, you might not be surprised to learn I actually used 5 toasts for one bowl instead of the more “adult” one toast pictured here.
Mmmmmm… pureed smooth just like my roasted butternut squash and pear soup recipe!
With soup I always freeze a portion. Especially when I make it in the fall. There’s been many a dreary winter day when I had no motivation to cook; and you wouldn’t believe how fast a bag of frozen soup can defrost. For more freezer friendly ideas click here!
But you can’t beat fresh out of the pot. No, sir.
- 1 large onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1.5 pounds ham hock (about 2 ham hocks)
- 1 pound dried split peas (1 bag)
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves
- salt & pepper
- Chop onion, celery, and carrots. Then saute in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. While that cooks heat up another tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot. Brown the ham hocks on all sides and deglaze with a splash of chicken stock. Add in the sautéed veggies, dried split peas, dried thyme, bay leaves, 4 garlic cloves (minced), and chicken stock. Bring to boil then reduce to low and cover.
- After 45 minutes check the consistency of the peas. If they are not cooked through and mushy then keep checking every 5 minutes until done. Turn off the heat and remove bay leaves and ham hocks. If you want to use meat from ham hocks just set aside to cool and garnish your bowl at the end. If not, simply toss in the garbage.
- Using an immersion blender, blend until it reaches desired consistency - smooth but thick. Ladle into bowls and serve with ham hock meat or toast.
- Leftovers can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.