Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Warming Soup on Cool Days

When the air turns chilly, we think of soups and stews and other heartier dishes too overwhelming for the summer. I have had a soup on my mind for a while now and finally, today I made it. I thought up the combination a lot of years ago, but it has been a long while since I actually made it. Life gets in the way sometimes, and I tend to forget how good a dish is, and let things just slide. It had been sliding for far too long.

Today I said to myself, "This is the DAY!"  I had a hambone.  I bought a ham recently just so I would have a hambone left.  The soup is a variation of split pea and ham.  I call it:

Split Pea, Vegetable and Ham Soup

Split Pea, Vegetable and Ham Soup
1 leftover ham bone with about 1 pound meat left on - OR -
(2 - 3 meaty smoked ham hocks)
1 large onion, chopped
2 - 3 celery stalks, chopped
2 large, or 3 medium carrots, sliced and roughly chopped
1 medium potato, peeled (or not, as desired) and cut in small dice
6 - 8 cups water
1 (1-pound) bag dried split peas
1 box chopped frozen spinach

Directions: In a large soup pot, place the hambone with meat, onion, carrot, potato and celery. Pour in water to nearly cover the ham bone or hocks; about 6 - 8 cups. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer slowly for about 1½ - 2 hours. The meat should be getting tender. Add the bag of split peas and cook until the peas are mostly disintegrated; about an hour. Remove hambone or hocks and remove as much meat as possible and return meat to the soup. Add in the package of frozen spinach and allow to completely heat through. Stir well to disperse the spinach. Serve hot with some nice crusty bread, or corn muffins. Serves 8 or more as a main meal.

NOTES: This recipe can be made with yellow split peas, also. No salt is needed in this recipe, as the ham bone or hocks are salty enough to season the soup. All the ingredients could easily be placed in a large crock pot and slow-cooked all day. It can also be placed in a large heavy Dutch Oven, or enameled cast iron pot and slowly simmered on the stove or in the oven, on whatever temperature maintains a simmer.

The addition of all the vegetables and the spinach makes this soup visually appealing;  moreso than if it was just split peas and ham. I just ate my bowl of soup and it really was all I remembered. Just thick enough, just the right amount of salt, plenty of meat, excellent flavors and lots of vegetables. Try this out on a chilly day; it is such an easy recipe. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.