Saturday, January 7, 2017

Split Pea and Ham Soup

     An Old Traditional Recipe That Is Still Very Popular!
     Spit Pea and Ham Soup is a classic choice for a chilly day, but it is also a good soup for warm weather.  American style Split Pea Soup is usually made with dried green split peas.  Yellow split peas are usually used to make Caribbean or Indian style Split Pea Soups, which respectively have a more exotic flavor.
     American style Split Pea Soup is always a fine puree.  The vegetarian version is good, but most chefs add bits of ham to the recipe to make the soup even tastier.  Only enough ham and ham stock are added to give the soup a comfortable warm flavor.
     American Split Pea Soup was introduced by French Canadians sometime in the 1800's.  Most western world Split Pea Soup recipes are based on the old French Potage Saint Germain recipe, which was a fine puree.  Even further back in history, split peas were popular food item in ancient Roman and Greek societies.  It is likely that the oldest origins of Split Pea Soup can be traced to ancient India, from an age long before ancient Grecian society came to be.  Split Peas truly are one of the oldest foods on earth.
     There are no special techniques required for today's recipe.  The soup simmers for such a long time, that sautéing the mirepoix vegetables is unnecessary.  Split Pea Soup simmers for so much time, that it is easy to puree by pressing the soup through a fine mesh strainer.  An electric blending wand (emersion blender) or a food processor can also be used.
     If chopped ham is added, it should be added after the soup is pureed.  A big piece of ham or ham hock is usually simmered with the peas to add flavor.  That same piece of meat is usually chopped and added to the soup after it is pureed smooth.
     Split Pea and Ham Soup:
     This recipe yields about 4 cups.  (2 portions)  
     Adding what may seem to be excess liquid at the start of this recipe is fine, because this soup requires a long simmering time.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 4 cups of water.
     Add 2 cups of ham broth.
     Step 2:  Add 1 3/4 cups of dried split peas.
     Add a 4 ounce piece of roasted ham.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Step 3:  Add 1 minced green onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped carrot.
     Add 1/4 cup of minced peeled celery.
     Add 1/4 cup of minced onion
     Step 4:  Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.  (About 2 pinches.)
     Step 5:  Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer the soup for about 2 hours, till the split peas and vegetables are very tender.
     *Allow the excess liquid to reduce and only add water if the soup starts to look thick.
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Remove the bay leaf and discard it.
     Step 7:  Remove the piece of ham and allow the ham to cool.
     Chop the ham into small pieces.
     Set the chopped ham aside.  
     Step 8:  Puree the soup.  (Use a blender, emersion blender or food processor.)
     Pour the soup through a fine mesh strainer into a second pot.
     Mash and press any solid ingredients that remain through the strainer.
     Step 9:  Place the pot over low heat.
     *Check the consistency.  The split pea soup should be a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  Add water if it is too thick.  Simmer and reduce if it is too thin.  The finished volume should be about 4 cups.
     Step 10:  Adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper if necessary.
     Add the reserved chopped ham.
     Simmer the soup for 5 more minutes.
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Step 11:  Ladle the soup into a soup bowl.
     Garnish the soup with a few Italian Parsley leaves.
     This is a nice comfortable soup that is very economical to make!  

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