Conquering my fear of Ham and Split Pea Soup

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It’s true, your tastes do change as you grow older or maybe you just get braver.  Perhaps you just need stronger flavours as you’ve dulled your senses over time with years of abuse from junk food, cigarettes (hopefully a thing of the past for most of us), alcohol, funnell cake, whatever.  As a child, ham and split pea soup was one of those things I wanted to like, but just couldn’t get past my lips for fear of what nasty bits lay in that  thick, opaque liquid.  It smelled good, people eating it made it look like it must be good, they “oohed” and “ahhed”  and sopped up the bit remaining in the bowl with crusts of bread so they wouldn’t waste any of  the delectable soup.  My mother would set it down in front of me, I would have a few tentative spoonfuls, taking care that no bits of mystery stuff got mixed into the broth, and when it felt like I had spent enough time hunkered over my bowl , I would asked to be excused so I could go out and play.  (For those of you born after 1985, I will explain what “going out to play” was some other time).

In some ways cooking has been a freeing experience for me, I know exactly what has gone into a dish and therefore need not fear it’s contents.  I know that there will be no gristly bits, no globs of fat, no hard bits of bone, I can attack with confidence!  I can eat and enjoy my ham and split pea soup and love it, and I do love it, it’s one of my favourite things, I make it every time we have leftover ham and I usually have enough to freeze for a couple of meals down the road.  It’s hearty and so full of flavour that having this for dinner with some nice crusty bread and a salad makes for a very satisfying and comforting meal.  So go forth and conquer your food fears, the best way to do it (I’ve found) is to make it yourself!

My recipe for Ham and Split Pea Soup

I always make this recipe after we’ve had a roast ham, when you remove the roasted ham from the oven collect and save some of the fat and liquid that has amassed and put it in a covered container in the refrigerator until you make your soup.

1 Ham bone

3 tbsp. of unsalted butter

1 lrg. white onion

1 large carrot diced

3-4 litres of ham stock

1/2 cup of reserved fat and ham liquid (this will have turned to jelly by now)

2 cups of yellow or green split peas, rinsed and cleaned

2 large carrots cut into coins

1 large parsnip cut into coins

1 cup of rutabaga cut into half inch cubes

reserved chunks of ham

2 large potatoes cut into cubes

pepper to taste

Cut into bite size chunks any nice pieces of ham left on the bone, set aside.

In a large pot cover ham bone with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 – 3 hours

Strain, reserving clear stock and throw away the bone and nasty bits.

In another large pot over med. heat, melt butter, saute onion and diced carrot, cook until soft, not coloured about 7-8 minutes.  Add about 1/2 cup of reserved ham fat and jelly, let dissolve, add stock,  and and split peas, cover and cook for about two hours, peas will start to break down and thicken the soup.  Add the remaining carrots, parsnip, rutabaga and ham, cook for another hour.   Add potatoes and cook for another 1/2 hour until potatoes are tender, add pepper to season.  Serve  hot with a nice crusty bread.  Enjoy!

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