Sometimes, being married means making sacrifices.
Split pea soup, to me, was a sacrifice. I don’t love smoky, heavy, grainy soups. I like light, fresh, vibrant soups. Creamy, spicy, fragrant. I love a stew. But split pea soup…never my thang. Mushy peas, rubbery ham, too much salt. Blech.
Until, that is…I made it myself. This took awhile to make but was easy as could be. It could be made vegetarian, but I have to tell you…that ham hock broth has made me a believer.
Split Pea and Ham Soup
1 lb. split peas (or lentils of any color)
1 smoked ham hock
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 bunch carrots, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 bunch celery, roughly chopped
8 cups stock
4-6 cups water
2 bay leaves
salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning to taste
1 glug balsamic vinegar
1 cup milk
1. Toss the veggies into a large stock pot with the oil over high heat. Sautee for about 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are fragrant and the onions are translucent but there is no browning and nothing is softened. I put shrooms in here, but only because they were about to go bad. I don’t think that they are necessary. This is a ham hock. This good Jew hadn’t ever seen one up close before, much less cooked with it. I did a little online research and it seemed like any osso buco or short rib to me. Basically, boil it for hours into oblivion. 2. Toss in the water, stock, herbs, and seasonings, and let that thing boil, covered, for between 2 and 3 hours You know that it’s done when the ham meat falls off of the bone easily. Keep it at a medium-low simmer so it doesn’t boil over. The house…the house is gonna smell goooood.
3. When the ham hock is really soft, with the skin falling away, strain out all of the solids and return the broth to the pot. Add the lentils and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the soup is thick and the lentils are soft. 4. Taste for seasonings, add the balsamic and the milk, and then taste for seasonings again. 5. Shred the the meat away from the fat and skin and fold it into the soup. 6. Serve (if you are like us) with Greek yogurt and a little hot sauce.
Okay, I have seen the light – this is the way that split pea soup should taste. Creamy, comforting, and deeply layered with flavor and sweetness. The pork stock is unlike any I have ever made – it tastes almost like rich tonkatsu broth. It’s so filled with body and round with fat and flavor. It isn’t smoky, just savory and earthy. The milk rounds out the edges and the balsamic adds a fresh, tart edge. This was perfect with a Caesar salad.
Sometimes marriage is about making sacrifices…and sometimes it’s about learning that those sacrifices are actually awesome, delicious bowls of soup.