This is the only split pea soup I've ever made more than once. The basic recipe comes from Julia's "The Way to Cook", and has a very clean, fresh flavor. It requires some work, but I like that I can freeze the ham stock and then make the soup at a later date without the murky taste of a lot of one pot pea soups.
The Ham Stock
- 2 well-washed and scrubbed split ham hocks
- 3 quarts water
- 1 cup chopped carrot (coarse is fine)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 5 whole cloves or 5 allspice berries
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2⁄3 cup diced celery
- 2⁄3 cup diced onion
- 1⁄2 cup diced carrot
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 quarts ham stock, heated
- 1 1⁄2 cups split peas or 1 1⁄2 cups yellow split peas
- For the stock, put the ham hocks in a kettle with water to cover by 2 inches.
- Make an herb bouquet with washed cheesecloth, using the bay leaves, thyme and cloves or allspice.
- Put this in the pot, along with the carrots, onions and celery.
- Simmer 3 to 4 hours with the kettle cover slightly open.
- Or, simmer in crockpot for 8 hours on low.
- Skim occasionally.
- Strain and degrease.
- Easiest way to degrease is to make ahead and chill, remove fat when cold.
- Freeze if you want.
- To make the soup, set a saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter.
- Saute the vegetables, stirring, for 5 minutes.
- Blend in the flour and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and cool briefly, blend in the hot ham stock and the split peas.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring.
- Cover and cook about 45 minutes until peas are tender.
- Salt and pepper to taste after 1/2 hour of simmering.
- When cooked, mash or puree the soup depending on the consistency you want.
- Garnish with homemade croutons or sauteed ham bits if desired.