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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

A ham with a bone. A boon to soup-lovers!

How I love split pea soup! And the best split pea soup starts with a meaty ham bone. I expect there are lots of ham bones in fridges right now. Hopefully, when you carved up your Christmas or New Year's ham, you did not discard the bone. If you had, that would be very sad. I nearly took off my husband's head when he went to toss our Christmas ham bone in the garbage. What a waste of fantastic hammy flavor! It is so simple to make split pea soup. The hardest part is pureeing some of the soup in the blender. You don't have to do this but it improves the texture of the soup a great deal.

Sharon's Ham Bone Split Pea Soup
(serves 6-8)

1 tablespoon Butter or Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, cut in half lengthwise then into ¼" slices
6 cloves garlic chopped
1 pound Dried Split Peas, rinsed and picked over
10 cups Ham Stock, or water, or combination of both
1 meaty Ham Bone
1 Bay Leaf
a few sprigs of fresh Thyme
1 cup Diced Ham
Salt , to taste (if using ham stock, may need none)
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
hot pepper sauce (optional)

Heat butter or oil in a large soup kettle over medium-low and cook  onions and carrots, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook another minute. Add split peas, ham stock or water, ham bone, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. If soup gets too thick, add 1 to 2 cups more water. Cook until split peas are tender, for about 2 hours. Discard bay leaf and thyme.

Ladle soup into a blender to fill blender container. Puree until smooth. You can puree some of the soup, or all of it, depending on what texture you like best. Return to soup kettle. Add ham meat to kettle and simmer soup, stirring, until heated through. Season with salt (if needed) and pepper. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.