I love Split Pea Soup with Country Ham – it has such a rich, deep, smoky flavor!
Following the tradition established by my mom many years ago, every December I order up a country ham from Kentucky to serve over the holidays. One January, I decided to make a batch of Split Pea Soup with the bone and some of the leftovers. It was delicious! The ham added depth and smokiness to the flavor.
I’m a bit partial to creamy soups, and what I like about Split Pea Soup is that the peas break down in the cooking process, resulting in a creamy consistency that still has some texture, since it isn’t puréed in a blender. Make sure your dried split peas are fresh; if they are stale/old, they won’t break down in the cooking process, no matter how long you cook them. Also, some people believe it’s not necessary to soak the peas. I think the consistency comes out with a perfect balance of creamy and chunky if you DO soak them overnight.
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. You can also use other, less salty types of ham if you prefer.
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- 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.
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.
Gluten free: use gluten-free chicken broth.
- Category: Soup, main dish
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Southern