The first time I had this soup, it was from a can. And I fell in love! okay, I’m strange; I like peas. All peas. I still keep canned peas in my pantry, and occasionally snack on them. As a young married woman, I wanted to improve my repertoire of recipes, and worked on making this a part of the list of regular meals.

Dried Split Peas

When I lived in central Tennessee, I had a real honest-to-God butcher, and he had hams from a local smokehouse. The hams were cured, then hung for days to smoke, and then sold at the butcher shop. All I had to do was call in my order on Monday, and pick up on Friday. I ordered a half ham, about 8 pounds, bone-in once a month. The leftovers were frozen and used for a variety of recipes and the best ham sandwiches in the world. Split pea soup ended up one of our favorites, along with bean soup.

Although this soup is great in a more traditional way, I also like to jazz up a bowl with sriracha and cilantro, or cheese. It’s a blank slate that lends itself to your imagination. This also easy to make as a vegan soup, replace the stock and ham, and it’s a great meal for anyone.

Pea Soup with Ham

3 stalks celery, diced (about 5 ounces)

2 carrots, diced, (about 5 ounces)

¾ cup diced onions, (about 6 ounces)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

2 medium red potatoes, diced, (about 10 ounces)

1 ½ pounds smoked ham, diced

2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth

8 – 12 ounces dried split peas*

½ teaspoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1-pound frozen peas

¼ cup dry white wine, chardonnay or pinot grigio

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons cooking oil

Check the dried peas for and small rocks or other debris, and set aside.  Heat a 5 to 6 – quart pot over medium heat.  Add the oil and reduce the heat.  Sweat the celery, carrots, and onions with the kosher salt for 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes and continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned.  Add the ham and heat for about 2 minutes.  Add the stock, wine, dried peas, granulated garlic and parsley.  Bring to a simmer; reduce heat and cover.  Cook covered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  The peas should begin to soften and break up after about 30 minutes.  Continue to cook until the peas are completely softened.  Increase heat to medium- low and add the frozen peas and the pepper.  Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat.  Taste to adjust seasoning.

*Use 8 ounces of dried peas for a thinner soup, or use 12 for a thick stew-like consistency.

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