I don’t think there’s an appetizing way to photograph split pea soup, and if there is, I’m sure I’m not capable of it, so this entry will contain no pictures.
Split Pea Soup
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – enough to coat the bottom of the pan
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 – 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 – 3 nice meaty smoked ham hocks, depending on how big they are and how meaty you like your split peas (You can use ham or bacon, but neither of them really compare to smoked ham hocks. If you use bacon, brown it in a separate pan. If you use ham, leave it in big pieces because it will break down during the long cooking time, and then will fall apart into delectable chunks when the soup is done.)
- 4 – 6 carrots, chopped
- 3 quarts water
- 3 cups split peas
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 T fresh sage, chopped (if using dried sage, probably just a pinch will do)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Small pinch of red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 300.
- Pour enough olive oil into a large, heavy pot (preferably oven proof) just to coat the bottom.
- Add onions and garlic, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and brown over medium or medium-low heat.
- When onions and garlic just begin to brown, add ham hocks to pan.
- As ham hocks begin to brown on the first side you’ve placed them on, turn and then add carrots.
- When carrots are tender, add 1 quart of water and scrape tasty crusty bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add the rest of the water, the split peas, thyme, sage, and black and red pepper, and then turn the stove to high and cover to bring to a boil.
- After the pot has come to a boil, transfer to oven and cook at 300 for about 4 hours, until the split peas have disintegrated. Stir every so often and if you need more liquid, add some.
NOTE: I believe that the difference between a super delicious soup or stew and a pretty tasty soup or stew is the browning and deglazing process. Even if I want to make something in my crock pot, I always brown my onions, etc. before placing everything in the crock pot. Then I pour some liquid in the pan and scrape up all the yummy crusty bits, and then pour that liquid into the crock pot. This works well when you can’t be home all day to make sure your stove or oven don’t start a fire. Most of the time, though, I prefer to make soups and stews in my Creuset pots so I can brown everything on the stove, add my liquids, and then transfer to the oven. This makes all meats and beans really tender and delicious and gives stews and soups a second-day taste even on the first day, since we all know soups and stews are most delicious when they’re left over.