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Slow-Cooker Split Pea Soup

If you’d like, add crunch to this hearty soup by topping each portion with a fennel-bacon salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. dry white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups (1 lb.) green split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 smoked ham hock, about 1 1/2 lb.
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the fennel-bacon salad (optional):

  • 4 to 6 thick-cut bacon slices
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

Directions:

In a heavy fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir to dislodge any browned bits on the pan bottom. Transfer the contents of the pan to a slow cooker. Add the split peas, stock and ham hock. Cover and cook on low according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the split peas are very tender, about 9 hours.

Remove the ham hock, pull off the meat, and discard the skin, bone and cartilage. Shred the meat and set aside.

Transfer about one-third of the soup to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Return the soup to the slow cooker, add the reserved meat and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Rewarm the soup on the low setting.

Meanwhile, make the fennel-bacon salad: In a fry pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then crumble. Cut off the stem and feathery tops and any bruised outer parts from the fennel bulb. Coarsely chop the feathery tops to yield 2 Tbs. and set aside. Halve the fennel bulb lengthwise, then core and cut crosswise into paper-thin slices. In a bowl, combine the fennel slices, reserved fennel tops, bacon and lemon zest. Toss to mix well

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and top with the fennel-bacon salad. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.


Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, 2010).