Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Split Pea Soup with (optional) Ham Hock

When I say optional ham hock I really mean optional. I used to make this at The Still Life without the ham hock and it wasn't uncommon for vegetarian customers to complain that they'd been served a meat soup. There is something about the marjoram and cumin, maybe the wine also, that makes it so hearty and savory that people assume there's meat in it. A few years ago I added the ham hock mostly out of curiosity about cooking with a ham hock - they're sort of out of place and cavemanish in the grocery store, I think - and now I always include it. I love the smokiness from the hock, and the chewy bits of pork. This soup makes great leftovers, but you'll probably need to splash in a little water when you reheat.

Split Pea Soup with (optional) Ham Hock
makes about 6 servings

1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced (optional, but yummy)
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup white wine
2 cups dried split peas
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (or equivalent amount of sweet potatoes)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 T dried thyme or about 4 fresh sprigs
2 t marjoram
2 t dried mustard
1 T cumin
red pepper flakes to taste
salt & pepper to taste
1 ham hock (preferably smoked)

  • Saute the onions, shallots, and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil until they are starting to brown.
  • Sprinkle the cumin over this and saute about 1 more minute, or until things start to get too dry.
  • Add the wine and simmer for about 3 minutes just to cook off the alcohol.
  • Add the rest of the spices, the peas, carrots, potatoes, stock, and the ham hock (if you want meat in the soup, but you can't deal with a hock, you can add diced ham).
  • Bring the soup to a low simmer and let it bubble for about an hour. Stir a few times in the beginning, but since split pea is a thick soup it might try to stick to the bottom of the pot near the end - just keep your heat low and stir a little more frequently.
  • Remove the ham hock and pick off all the good meaty bits, returning them to the pot. 
  • Serve with buttered toast or croutons. Seriously, don't skip the toast.
Related Posts with Thumbnails