Thursday, January 10, 2013

Split Pea Soup Flavored with Ham and Rosemary + secrets to making a great soup

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.

Or not.

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.

Have a great weekend everyone.


  1. Absolutely scrumptious! Split peas are mighty tasty.



  2. Love split pea soup. This one I will be trying, soon.

  3. I have my Christmas hambone in the freezer - ready for use!

  4. Hi Sam - I am always on the lookout for new twists on the standard pea soup recipe, and this one looks great. I agree: any time of year is perfect for soup.

  5. This looks and sounds delicious. I need to buy a fresh rosemary plant as mine died over the summer. Mark wanted me to get a new one, and I will for cooking with and rosemary is for remembrance.


  6. We enjoy soup year around too--and, many time, for dinner. Growing up, soup was usually just for lunch. This looks delicious and is going in my soup file.


  7. Good Afternoon Sam, Split pea and ham soup is a soup which is traditionally made here in the North East of England. The first time I tasted it was when I came to visit George's parents many years ago and it was George's father who cooked the soup. George's Uncle Ted is 81 years old and still makes this soup as it is so nutritious. It is a delicious soup and I love your version which includes thyme and rosemary.Enjoy your day. Best Wishes Daphne

  8. We make our soups the way you do too:)

    Looks lovely in Naples:) You must be happy to get away:)

  9. This reminds me of our Habitant Pea Soup but I love the addition of tomato paste. I do brown my my vegetables first but never really thought why.

  10. I love split pea soup and the flavorings here sound delicious. It is cold here and I love soup when it is cold.

  11. I have used the same split pea soup recipes for many years and I think it's time I tried something new. I'm intrigued by the addition of paprika and soy sauce. Your version has much more flavor than mine, Sam, and it will be fun to give it a try. I just happen to have a ham bone in the freezer so I'm all set.

  12. Sounds god to me, I will certainly try this recipe out. Happy New Year to you, Diane

  13. I love split pea soup. Yours sounds wonderful Sam. Now I want to be in Naples -lol.

  14. Wow, what a different combination of ingredients for pea soup! I love rosemary, this sounds great Sam:@)

  15. We've been having a mild winter so far in the Midwest too but now lovely birds perched on your cars :) Split pea soup is one my my very favorites and I just made some last week. Love this rendition!

  16. What a great looking soup, Sam. Creamy and satisfying...I have not yet tried the green split peas. Have to look out for them.

  17. This sounds so good Sam. Wish I had a ham bone. Love your tips.

  18. You have definitely brought split pea soup up a notch with your technique and seasoning. thanks for sharing this on foodie friday Sam.

  19. Yum! This just sounds deliciuos. Split pea is my favorite soup, and that's such a great tip about browning the veggies. Thanks, Sam!



  20. Hi Sam,
    This is a great post with really good secret tips for soup. I like to saute or roast my vegetables for a very flavorful soup. Your Split Pea Soup With Ham looks delicious, it has some of my favorite ingredients.

    Thank you so much for celebrating TWO YEARS with FULL PLATE THURSDAY, I appreciate your visit!
    Come Back Soon
    Miz Helen

  21. Good tips and the soup looks wonderful. I recently made split pea soup with some leftover Christmas ham and I added a dash of curry and cumin. It was very good.

    P.S. Like the idea of the sour cream to finish it off.

  22. I just made a split soup, using my pressure cooker. Browning veggies really does make a huge difference. I never thought to add rosemary to my pea soup, and I have a huge rosemary bush in my garden. Thanks for a great idea.

  23. Split Pea Soup is a favorite of ours! Your version sounds wonderful - I'd never thought to use rosemary, but I'll bet it's great.

  24. Nice tips Sam and the soup sounds delicious. It's 70 here today andd we have the house opened up.

  25. Honestly, Sam, sometimes I wonder about myself. I could have sworn I made a comment when I saw this on Facebook! Oh well. Age? Exhaustion from the move? (That's a better excuse.)
    Anyway....we all have recipes for pea soup, usually inherited. My sister and mother were the soup-makers in our family. However, I used to make it constantly for my parents, especially after my mother stopped cooking in her later years. Between that and barley, they loved soup for lunch. Whether I will ever make it again, I don't know. I got tired of it. Yours has some lovely innovations, though. Tempting to try again. Browning the veggies is a great idea. The paprika, soy sauce and tomato paste is new to me too.

  26. this soup looks absolutely delicious and I so agree with you about browning the veggies and taking your time - and herbs! great tips and SO true!
    Mary x

  27. My mom didn't saute vegetables before adding to soup either, and now I can't imagine NOT doing that. My secret ingredient is Pickapeppa sauce rather than tomato, but which ever you use, it sure makes a difference. We're like you Sam, we enjoy soup year round. Your hitch hiker is a Cattle Egret. We only have them in Colorado in the Summer.

  28. I always saute the veg but the trick of adding tomato paste in new to me. Adding rosemary sounds inspired. And I just happen to have a hambone...

  29. I am an all year round soup lover. Soup to me is soulful and comforting. My husband would disagree , he likes soup only when it is cold. Our winter in North Florida has been very mild too.

    Browning the vegetables before adding additional ingredients is an excellent idea. I know that Emeril does that-the vegetables have an opportunity to caramelize, and that is definitely going to add a richer flavor.

    Until later,

  30. I really enjoy soup all through the year and pea soup is a favorite. I can't wait to try adding rosemary...I bet it is lovely.

  31. I'll be back. I have a hambone from the holidays and just pulled it out of the freezer. Love some of the flavors I never use - the tomato paste - the herbs...making this, Sam. I have good luck with your recipes.

  32. Yeah! I have 2 hambones in my freezer (1 a friend gave to me bc she doens't really cook) so now i can make my red beans and rice that I have been wanting to make and you pea soup! Love this soup

  33. This looks wonderful Sam! I can eat soup any time of the year too. Thanks for the great soup making tips!

  34. I would eat soup every day if I could (sons and DH not really OK with this.....)
    Thanks for sharing this great recipe, Sam. I will try it before the end of the week for sure.
    Anne Touraine (Playing with Scarves)

  35. Sounds and looks delicious. I absolutely love split pea soup.

  36. Ummmm! My hubby would love this! Soup is great, but we have it a lot more in the winter. Guess that will be changing. Have a good rest of the week!

  37. Thank you so much for the soup tips! I will remember them.

  38. A wonderful & very tasty looking one meal in one divine soup! Yummm!
    Really good & excellent comfort foos, just for me!

  39. love soup and pea soup is one of my favs yum!! check out my blog


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