For some people, soup is reserved for fall and winter. Not us. We eat soup year-around and enjoy it no matter what the weather or the season. It’s been rather warm this week and a couple of days the high was in the low eighties. You would think it was April rather than January. This guy was sitting on the top of our car yesterday in Naples and sends his greeting from the Gulf coast of southwest Florida. Someone joked that maybe he was tired and wanted a catch a ride.
One of our all time favorite soups, and one of the easiest to make, is split pea soup. In fact I posted it a couple of years ago, link here. But today my split pea soup is a little different because I have a left-over ham bone from a baked ham that I want to use. Basically you just add the ham bone to the liquid of the split pea soup while it cooks. However, the ham bone will add more fat to the soup than I want, so I plan to skim to fat from the top of the soup. To do that I’m going to let the soup sit overnight in the refrigerator after it’s cooled from cooking and skim the fat from the top the next day. For a vegetarian soup, leave out the ham entirely and substitute vegetable broth for the beef broth called for in the list of ingredients.
Before we get to the recipe, I want to share a couple of secrets to making a rich and flavorful soup. The first is sautéing the vegetables until they lightly browned. My mother used to throw the vegetables in without browning them first. While there’s nothing wrong with that, and it does save some time, if you brown the vegetables first your soup will have a much richer flavor. Here’s what I do. I start sautéing the vegetables on high heat, then quickly switch to low, season with salt and pepper, and cook them slowly until they are nice and brown, taking care that they not burn.
The second secret is to add the herbs and a little bit of tomato paste to the vegetables at the end of the browning stage to let them flavor the vegetables at that stage. The tomato paste brings an incredible amount of flavor to the mixture and it’s nice for the herbs to sauté a minute or two to incorporate them with the vegetables.
Split Pea Soup Flavored with Ham and Rosemary
From My Carolina Kitchen and inspired from Cooking Light – serves 4
12-oz package of green split peas
6 cups liquid (I use 4 cups of low sodium, low fat beef broth & 2 cups of water)
1 bay leaf
1 ham bone, trimmed of excess fat
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 whole carrots, scraped & diced
2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
Seasonings added before serving:
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Sour cream for garnish
Combine the peas, liquid, and ham bone in a large stockpot, cover, bring to a boil. When the mixture boils, turn to low and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, checking at 45 minutes for doneness.
In the meantime add the olive oil to a nonstick skillet over high heat. Start the vegetables off on high and quickly turn heat to very low, stirring very frequently. Sauté the vegetables until they are well softened and have taken on a slightly golden hue. Add thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic and stir to cook for a moment. Add tomato paste, stir well, and cook a couple of minutes more to incorporate the tomato paste. Add soy sauce & cook until the liquid evaporates.
Add vegetables to the peas along with the bay leaf. Peas should be done in about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove and discard bay leaf and the ham bone. Taste and season the soup with salt and pepper and add more liquid if necessary. Cover the soup and when it is cool, transfer to the refrigerator overnight.
The next day remove the layer of fat that has formed over the soup overnight and discard. At this point heat the soup up, then puree it with a wand mixer (or use a blender) or puree half and leave the remaining half of the soup chunky. Serve right away, or cool and store in the refrigerator, covered, for 2 to 3 days.
Before serving soup, combine the last minute seasonings in a small bowl and stir into the soup. Spoon soup into serving bowls and top with about a tablespoon or so of sour cream.
This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, The Chicken Chick, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.