Did you know this week is National Split Pea Soup Week? I had no idea until the US Dry Pea & Lentil Council offered to send me some split peas in order to make my own pot to celebrate. The timing couldn’t have been better. Nestled in my freezer was a ham hock I had brined and smoked myself a month ago. I’d been waiting for the right opportunity to use it, and National Split Pea Soup Week it was. Add in the fact that I’ve come down with a bit of a cold and found myself craving something hot, salty, and satisfying and this definitely fit the bill. My version combined involved simmering split peas, a meaty ham hock, and bay leaves in a combination of water and chicken stock. Once the peas were cooked through and starting to break down and the ham was fall-off-the-bone tender I added in some thinly sliced leeks, chopped carrots, and a grated garlic clove. In the last minute of cooking I added in some freshly ground pepper and added a dash of Worcestershire Sauce to round out the flavor.
The result was something so comforting and perfect for enjoying on a sick day. A delicious smokey pork flavor punctuated the whole bowl and the split peas made for a creamy broth with occasional pieces of silky leeks that almost melted into the bowl. Sometimes I find it’s easy to overlook the classics for something that challenges me in the kitchen, but this week was a good reminder that every once and awhile it’s great to get back to the basics. I loved this soup and know I won’t be waiting for another sick day to roll around to enjoy it again.
Adapted from a recipe by the US Dry Pea & Lentil Council
Yields 8 servings
-1 1-pound smoked ham hock
-1 pound dry green split peas (about 2 1/2 cups)
-1 quart plus 2 cups water
-1 quart chicken broth
-2 bay leaves
-1 large leek, thinly sliced, rinsed for dirt, and patted dry
-2 medium carrots, diced
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-1 dash Worcestershire Sauce
-Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine the ham hock, peas, water and broth in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer covered until the meat is tender and falling off the bone, about one hour.
Remove the ham hock from the pot and set aside to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bone (I used a fork and knife for this step.), removing any excess fat. Shred or chop the meat into small pieces.
To the pot add your leeks, celery, garlic, and chopped. Simmer until the soup is creamy and the vegetables are tender
Remove the bay leaves. Add the Worcestershire Sauce and black pepper and stir well to combine. Serve immediately.