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Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup
Dried peas and beans have long been menu standards of the winter months. Richly flavored split peas paired with smoked ham hocks is a classic cold-weather combination. Top with buttery croutons before serving, if you like.

Ingredients:

  • 2 smoked ham hocks, each about 3/4 lb.
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow or orange split peas
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 8 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock,
     canned broth or water, plus more as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the ham hocks and simmer for 1 minute. Drain and set aside. Pick over the split peas and discard any misshapen peas and stones. Rinse the peas and drain.

In a soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and carrot and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the ham hocks, split peas and the 8 cups stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the peas are soft, 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Remove the ham hocks and let stand until cool enough to handle. Let the soup cool slightly.

Using a blender and working in batches, puree the soup on high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes for each batch. Return the puree to a clean soup pot. Alternatively, process with a stick blender in the pot. Thin the soup with more stock, if needed. Place the soup over medium heat and reheat to serving temperature. Season with salt and pepper.

While the soup is heating, remove the meat from the ham hocks and discard the skin and bones. Cut the meat into small pieces and add to the soup. Stir to heat through.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with parsley. Serve hot.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Winter, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).