No ham bone? No problem!
I used to think I didn’t like split pea soup, until I tasted a batch a friend had made and realized that the canned stuff I’d been deliberately ignoring for years can’t hold a candle to homemade. This recipe is intentionally super simple and ideal if you, like me, don’t have a big enough crowd to justify buying a large, bone-in ham. Sautéing the vegetables in bacon fat adds an extra layer of flavour that more than makes up for the absence of the ham bone (although if you have one, by all means toss it in with the liquid). I used split yellow Desi chickpeas which were easier to find and less expensive than traditional split yellow peas; in this recipe the two are absolutely interchangeable. You could even make this soup with deli counter smoked ham, or by substituting chopped cooked bacon for the ham, or by omitting the ham entirely.
- 1 1/3 cups (340 mL) yellow split peas
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) bacon fat or olive oil
- 1 cup (250 mL) diced onion
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 medium potatoes, diced
- 4 – 5 cups (1 – 1.25 L) chicken, beef or vegetable stock, or water
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground thyme or 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL ) each sea salt and black pepper, or to taste
- 1 cup (250 mL)) chopped cooked smoked ham or cooked bacon
- Fresh herbs, chopped, to garnish
- Put split peas in a sieve and run your fingers through them, removing any debris. Rinse well under cold running water and drain. Set aside.
- Heat bacon fat or oil in a large, heavy duty pot (use a Dutch oven if you have one). Sauté onion for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring, until soft; add carrots and potatoes and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes more.
- Add split peas, 4 cups (1 L) of stock or water and seasonings to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover pot; let simmer, stirring occasionally, until split peas are tender, about 60 – 75 minutes. Add a bit more stock or water if the soup is thicker than you prefer.
- For a slightly smoother texture, lightly puree the soup right in the pot for 3 or 4 pulses with an immersion blender, being sure not to overdo it so the soup doesn’t turn to mush. Alternatively, you can remove 2 cups of the soup and partially puree (again, 3 or 4 pulses) it in a conventional blender or food processor, then return it to the pot.
- Add ham and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Serve hot with a sprinkle of fresh herbs on top.
Serves 6 – 8.