Before I get too far into this post let’s take a pause and acknowledge that food like split pea soup sounds pretty unappetizing and something of the nightmares of small children – or in my case, a hesitation to try it until in my thirties. But really – give it a try! Set your prejudice for split peas aside for an afternoon and open your heart. You won’t regret it.
The inspiration for this soup comes from my dad. Probably once a week I find myself on the phone with him swapping recipe and meal ideas, and recently admitted that for the better part of a decade I had been throwing away the ham bone after I served a ham for dinner – my dad was appalled! He convinced me to try making a soup out of the ham bone, just once, to see how good it was. And he wasn’t wrong! Next time you make a ham, save that bone and all the meat on it. If you don’t feel like making ham soup right away, the bone freezes and defrosts really well for later use.
This recipe is a play off the America’s Test Kitchen version – here’s a quick run down of the recipe, as it’s a little lengthy and you’ll need a few hours to prepare from start to finish.
- Ham bone is boiled in 16 cups of water, then bone is removed and meat is shredded off the bone (see the photo below)
- Split peas are added to the stock and simmered until soft but not mushy
- While the bone is simmering, vegetables are sautéed to be added later to the soup
- Diced potatoes are added near the end, with the sautéed vegetables and shredded ham, and simmered just until soft
Shredded ham off the bone, after simmering in water to make stock for the soup
This little treat is amazing served immediately, reheated the next day or even frozen and then defrosted at a later date. Give it a try! Hopefully this makes a split pea soup convert of you, like it did for me and encourages you to save that ham bone to make soup.
- 1 ham bone (2-3 lbs)
- 16 cups water
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tsp thyme (dried)
- 1 lb split peas (dried)
- 3 T olive oil
- 2 white onions, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 3 celery ribs, diced
- 1 T butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp white sugar
- 6 small new potatoes, medium diced
- Place the ham bone in a large stock pot and add the water and bay leaves. Cover and heat over medium-high, bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2.5 hours until the meat falls off the bone.
- Remove ham bone and meat from the stock; add the thyme leaves and split peas, stir, and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Let the ham meat cool, and shred it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Throw the bone away.
- While the ham is simmering, heat a large fry pan over high heat, and add the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté until the vegetables begin to brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the sugar, garlic and butter, stirring to combine. Continue to cook for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are deep brown, stirring every 5 minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked, remove the heat and set aside.
- Once the split peas are cooked, add the sauteed vegetables, potatoes and ham to the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
- Season with ground black pepper and serve.
- This soup is delicious made ahead and served the next day.