I love split pea soup, and this year I decided to make a batch using the bone and leftovers from our Christmas country ham. It turned out delicious! A warning: country ham tastes saltier than regular ham, and if you’re not accustomed to its flavor you might want to skip cooking the soup with the ham bone. I would still recommend stirring in the chopped ham at the end.
Split Pea Soup with Country Ham
(Serves 6 to 8)
2 cups dried split peas, rinsed and picked over
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped leeks
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 to 3 quarts chicken broth
1 country ham bone
1 cup chopped cooked country ham
Place the peas in a medium mixing bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, leeks and celery and sauté until soft and just beginning to brown, around 8 to 10 minutes. Add 2 quarts of the chicken broth and the ham bone; bring to a boil, partially cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the peas, uncover and continue cooking at a low simmer for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the peas are tender. (The longer you cook it, the creamier the consistency of the soup.) Remove the ham bone and stir in the chopped country ham. Thin with additional chicken broth as needed. Serve hot.
Note: I think this soup tastes best if you stir in the ham and then let it set for a bit off the heat – at least 30 minutes, or even overnight in the refrigerator. It thickens as it sits so you will want to thin it with more broth.