What would St. Patty’s Day be without something green? Well, I for one did not want to find out so I planned something green to make tonight. After debating a few different options, I settled on ham & split pea soup. I have vague memories of my Mom making this soup, but up until tonight I had never tried it myself. It’s a little more time-consuming because of the time it takes to make the ham broth, but totally worth it. Besides, it made a ton of soup so leftovers are abundant!
The cast of characters:
2 KG smoked, bone-in picnic ham
8 bay leaves
5 c split peas
2 tsp dried thyme
4 medium onions
4 medium carrots
4 celery ribs
2 TBSP butter
4 cloves garlic
3 baking potatoes
Before we continue, I must confess that I (absent-mindedly) forgot to include the garlic, thyme, butter, or sugar in the picture. Or did you even notice? Hmmm…these are the things that keep me up at night.
Ok, so I already alluded to it but the foundation of any good ham and split pea soup is the ham broth that is made by simmering the bone-in ham for several hours. Who am I to mess with tradition?
Stick the ham in a large pot and cover with about 6L of water. Add the bay leaves, and bring to a boil.
Once its come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 – 2.5 hrs. Yes, that’s a long time but it’s not as if you have to stand there and watch it so don’t complain.
Meanwhile…let’s chop the veggies, ok?
We need to dice up 4 onions…
Did you know that if you cry while you’re chopping onions whatever you’re making will be more flavourful? It’s true. I have tested this theory time and time again, and it has always proven to be true. With this in mind, I would have taken a picture of myself to demonstrate just how delicious this soup is going to be, but I do want you to come and read again. You can thank me later.
After you’ve removed the mascara that is gracing your cheeks, chop up 4 carrots…
And 4 celery ribs. Or is it 4 ribs of celery? This too shall keep me up.
Might as well mince up some garlic while we’re at it. And give thanks that not all vegetables make you cry. Have you every thought of what life would be like if there was no garlic? Yes, its definitely going to be a sleepless night.
You’ll probably have quite a bit of time to kill while the ham is working its magic – so why not make some Irish Soda Bread to go along with the soup? That’s what I did, and I suggest you do the same. In fact, I’ll put the recipe up in a bit!
Go check on the ham – is the meat tender and pulling away from the bone yet? If it is, remove the ham meat and bone and set it aside to cool for a few minutes.
Rinse the split peas, and add them to the broth along with the thyme.
Simmer until the peas are tender but not dissolved – this will take about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat up some olive oil over high heat, and then add the (painstakingly) chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Saute for 5-6 minutes, or until the vegetables start to brown. Don’t forget to stir it frequently!
Reduce the heat to med-low. Add the garlic along with the butter and a generous pinch (or two) of sugar. Let the veggies continue to cook and brown for the next 30-35 minutes while the peas are simmering – just give it a stir every now and then so they don’t burn.
While the veggies are browning, peel and dice the potatoes. Keep them covered with cold water until they’re needed, otherwise they’ll turn brown.
Remember the ham that was cooling? Either chop or shred it into bite-sized pieces.
Times up! Add the sautéed veggies, potatoes, and ham to the pot with the peas in it.
Let everything hang out until the potatoes are tender. By the time that’s been accomplished, the peas will have also mostly dissolved and thickened the soup – 20 minutes should do the trick, depending on how big the potato chunks are. And then, before you know it…Soup’s done! Season it will salt and pepper to taste. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves before serving either!
P.S. If you find this too rich for your palate (is there such a thing?), just drizzle a little bit of balsamic vinegar on the soup to cut the richness and brighten everything up.