Split Pea Soup with Ham


Split Pea Soup with Ham

My mother frequently made this hearty but economical soup, whenever we had a ham bone left over from a Sunday dinner. I always enjoyed it. 

Pea soup is apparently native to Holland, where it’s called “Snert.” That soup, sold by vendors along the frozen canals to people skating by. is made very thick (“so you can stand a spoon in it”). Celery root (“celeriac”) is preferred over celery. A traditional garnish for pea soup is “rookworst” (ROKE- vourst), a ring-shaped, smoked pork and beef sausage.

If you have a bone left over from a ham dinner, cut the ham off it for later use and simmer the bone in with the peas. Remove it when the soup is nearly done, before adding the meats.

Actually, a very tasty pea soup can be made vegetarian by increasing the vegetables a bit and browning them slightly when frying them before adding them to the simmering soup.

The recipe serves six to eight, but leftovers are great.

1 pound (2 1/4 cups) dry green split peas
8 cups water
A ham bone, if available (cut the meat off it for use later in the recipe)
1 large bay leaf
1 medium-large onion
2 medium-large carrots
A small celeriac or 2 sticks celery
3 cups broth made from the vegetable trimmings and peels
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt, plus to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry savory or oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus a little at the end
1/2 pound leftover ham or use smoked sausage

Rinse peas. Place in pot with water. Bring to a boil. Skim off foam. Add bay leaf. Simmer, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pot, until peas start to break down.

Meanwhile peel onion, carrots and celeriac, if used. Make broth with peels, leaves of celery, if used, plus 3 cups water, simmering 20 minutes.

Coarsely dice the peeled or trimmed vegetables. Fry them with the oil until softened. Add to simmering peas.

Strain broth into soup. Add salt, dry herbs and pepper.

Simmer until peas disintegrate and vegetables are very tender. Add water, as needed, to make the consistency of heavy cream. Remove ham bone, if used.

Cut ham into 1/4-dice, or slice sausage into 1/4-inch discs. Add to soup. Simmer 10 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed. Stir in a generous sprinkling of ground black pepper. 

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