My friend S. is a Vegetarian 98% of the time, with some fish here or there. But, she has a weakness....ham.
I found this out one evening when I came home (S. was babysitting Ms. Iz) to find her chowing down on a big bowl of my split pea with ham soup. After the shock wore off, she told me that ham is her achilles heel in regards to the meat world. And that, there were some lovely ham biscuits that came from Virginia that she treated me to. Pure deliciousness!
The first time I made the split pea with ham soup, I had a bit of a mishap. The hamhock I chose was subpar, too salty, not enough real flavor, you know, none of Gran Fran's best quality ingredients at the Safeway that day. Sadly, it did not make my soup any better, and nowhere near Gran Fran's. But, I perservered (and started buying nitrate free hamhocks) and am now an expert split pea with ham soup.
When I was little, Gran Fran usually made us a batch around Thanksgiving. As with everything, which I believe I have mentioned before, there was so much that it lasted for at least a week. I cherished every last drop. By watching Gran Fran, I learned that you need to brown the hamhock first, and use cloves, not the powder, the whole ones, for the best flavor.
One thing I've realized is that there is an alternative to the hamhock....left over Honey Baked Ham on the bone. It makes a much sweeter soup (welcome, honey), but it's a nice rich alternative, and a good use of a bit of leftovers.
So, in closing, enjoy the hammy-goodness as we had more fully into Fall!
Split Pea with Ham Soup ala Gran Fran serves 8 as a side dish
- 1 Package Green Split Peas (or about 12 ounces), rinsed
- 1 Ham Hock (nitrate free is best)
- 1 Large Yellow Onion, sliced
- 2 Large Carrots, sliced
- 4-6 Whole Cloves
- Bay Leaf
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
- Saute onions and carrots in the olive oil in a large non-reactive pan.
- Place hamhock in the pan and brown on all sides.
- Add washed peas, stirring over meium heat.
- Pur boiling water to cover, about 4 cups, into pan (or as much as you need to actually cover the hamhock).
- Add cloves, thyme, bay lead, pepper and garlic. Wait until the soup is further along in its cooking to add salt, since the handhock is fairly salty on its own).
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover the pan and simmer for 3 hours, stirring every now and then.
- Let cool and refrigerate. Then skim all of the fat off the top.
- Remove hamhock, dice the meat, and return to the soup.
- Reheat soup and serve with toasted baguette and a nice glass of wine.