Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crock Pot Split Pea & Ham Soup

slow cooker split pea & ham soup
Split pea and ham soup has been a cold-weather favorite of mine since childhood. Luckily, it is very easy to make in a crock pot or slow-cooker, and virtually foolproof. Once you taste homemade split pea & ham soup and inhale the rich aroma as it cooks, you will never go back to the canned version again.

The following recipe is my adaptation of this recipe found on about.com, and serves 6 to 8. Although most traditional recipes call for more celery, I make my soup with relatively little celery because Greg hates celery. The first time I made this soup I added 1 teaspoon of salt, which is much less than the original recipe but still tasted too salty, no doubt because of the saltiness of the ham hock. So, I no longer add any salt unless the soup needs it after I've tasted the finished product. My recipe is also zestier than the original, but without being spicy or hot. If you'd like to add a little kick, I recommend a splash or more of an uncomplicated vinegar-pepper hot sauce such as Texas Pete, Tabasco or even Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce. You can freeze this soup without any loss of flavor or texture.

1 lb (about 2 1/2 cups) dried green split peas, rinsed and picked over
1 meaty country ham hock (approx. 1 lb.)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced (approx. 1 1/3 cups or 10oz)
1 medium onion, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
1 small celery rib, chopped (approx. 1/2 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 quart chicken stock (I make my own) plus 3 cups water, combined

Layer the ingredients in your crock pot in the order given and do not stir.

crock pot split pea & ham recipe
After about 1 hour on high

Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours OR on low for 10 to 12 hours. Alternatively, to reduce cooking time, heat the stock & water to just below a simmer and add while hot - if you do it that way, the soup should cook in 4 to 5 hours on high OR 8 to 10 hours on low.

recipe for split pea & ham soup
Almost done
Before serving, remove bay leaves and discard. Also remove the ham hock, cut the meat off the bone and chop into small pieces, then stir the ham into the soup and discard the bone. If you prefer to puree the soup, I recommend using a hand-held immersion blender (aka stick blender) after you remove the bay leaves and ham hock, and preferably before adding the ham pieces back into the soup (they can get stuck in the blender blades). Ladle into bowls and serve with rolls or other bread and a tossed salad for a wholesome and satisfying winter meal.

making split pea & ham soup
Pureed & ready to serve

Zestfully yours,

PS: This recipe is the answer to our December Crock Pot Game.  We play a new Crock Pot Game on the first of each month on the Carolina Sauce Facebook Page, and the winner gets a prize pack of sauces & seasonings. Be sure to like us on Facebook for your chance to win FREE sauce when we play the next game, on New Year's Day!

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