Monday, October 20, 2008

Country Ham and Split Pea Soup - It's Been a Long Time Coming

I can't remember the last time I made ham and split pea soup. It's probably been 10 years, which is remarkable since it's my favorite cool weather soup. I just don’t understand why I haven’t made it in so long.

I've made bean soup, lentil soup, rice soup, and potato soup dozens of times each over the last decade, but not split pea.

I've had leftover ham around countless times. I've ordered it in restaurants, so it's not like I forgot it existed. I'm sure I've even warmed up a can or two of Progresso at home, but making a batch never crossed my mind. It's a soup mystery that now consumes me; which is very ironic if you think about it.

Anyway, the important thing is that I made it, and it was everything I remembered homemade ham and split pea to be - a hearty, soul-warming bowl of dull green brilliance. No matter how often you make it, this has to be on everyone's top 10 soups of all-time list. Enjoy!




Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves sliced garlic
1 lb diced ham
1 lb split peas
1 quart chicken stock
2 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

49 comments:

Bill W, NH said...

A gunmbo recipe I use calls for the addition of 3 bay leaves. I made it without them the last time and could not taste any difference, is bay leaf really needed?

Chef John said...

If you use 3 and can't taste them, they are very old and/or crappy bay leaves. Buy a new jar, and add one. Then the next time you make it don't, and then tell us the results.

Anonymous said...

WOW there is some major Food Karma going on or you felt my craving accross the country--I had just been dwelling about split pea soup this past week. Over the weekend I picked up a few bags of split peas to make this favorite soup and have some on hand for the winter. Oddly soup its the only way I will eat peas. I just can't eat them in their little ball form, but split em and add some ham and spices--I cannot get enough of it. My version from my grandma's recipe is slow cooked for about 4 hours, adds garlic/olive oil to the onion sweat, dry mustard & a hefty bit of fresh Dill Weed to the basics. I will try your recipe for sure too! Good Food-Karma wishes to you Chef & Thank You! -cb

Richard B. said...

So what would cause there to be pebbles in the bag of split peas? Something in the processing? Less-than-perfect picking, processing, and packing? Please enlighten.

Richard B. said...

So what would cause there to be pebbles in the bag of split peas? Something in the processing? Less-than-perfect picking, processing, and packing? Please enlighten.

Chef John said...

Yes, they are picked by machine and it grabs tiny stones sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Tiny stones. Yum, ever make Stone Soup? All you need is a soup stone.

Parantar said...

i'd love to taste it...

Ryan said...

This looks delicious! I am going to make this next time I go to the grocery store!

Sami said...

We always make this after having a ham roast(leftovers, in my opinon, are the best part about ham roasts). We take whatever ham hasn't been saved for cold sandwiches and toss them in the pot with the bone.

The bone really does give the soup something extra, and I can't recommend enough that you try it.

Sami said...

...and now I'm craving split pea soup and cold ham sandwiches. Thanks a lot, Chef John.


Jerk.

Rita said...

Hey Chef John,
First time posting and I want you to know I love this site!
This recipe is very close to our family recipe, except we add a ham bone and simmer for a couple of hours at least.
Add a slice of warm, fresh-baked sourdough slathered with butter and I'm in heaven.

Greg said...

I think split peas are really a type of lentil. They aren't the green peas in a pod type.

Anonymous said...

Chef John, if i were to make this without using ham, would all of the other amounts of ingredients be the same? Would I have to put more salt? Thanks!

ronnie said...

looks delicious..not sure if I'll be able to find Split peas over here in Spain but maybe I'll be able to find some next weekend in Holland..thanks for the great recipies

Chef John said...

yes, the same. simply taste for salt at the end. good luck!

Chef John said...

greg, they are literally dried and split peas, not a type of lentil. Otherwise it would be called split lentil soup. ;)

Anonymous said...

Great reminder that it is "soup season"....
I also add diced carrots to my recipe.
AND I rinse the peas after picking over for stones.
Luisa Vacaville

Chef John said...

yes you should probably rinse too, I forgot.

Anonymous said...

greetings from finland!

you should really try seasoning this with marjoram, its super delicious with it :)

Chef John said...

i will, and I'll tell you what I think when I "Finish"

dakencook said...

I actually did use yellow lentils cos i can't get those peas here. They seemed to soak up a the liquid really fast though, so I added more midway through. Also, used a piece of steak diced really small. I don't dig on no swine, man.

So, I made this. Except completely different. Thanks chef.

Anonymous said...

I made this soup last night and let me tell you, absolutely amazing... Just like Chef John said, really hearty and delicious! I substituted the pound of ham with two big sticks of carrot and it worked wonders! Thanks Chef John!

-D.W.

katie said...

I add diced carrots to my recipe too. It adds a nice sweetness to balance the salty ham flavor. And again, using a pressure cooker speeds up the cooking time to about 15 minutes. Speaking of which, I would love to see a video on pressure cooking. :)

Aimee said...

Chef John, I tried your recipe and it was sooo... delicious. It tasted as though I spent hours cooking it, so hearty, and satisfying. I didn't know something so simple can taste so complicated. Thanks.

Chef John said...

I'm glad you liked it! It's just like life - actually simple, but seems complicated.

Dave Hicks said...

I've made this a few times since you first posted it, and it's wonderful. I had tried making pea soup many times before, but always from whole dried peas that somehow made it into my cupboards!
Ever tried Habitant brand pea soup from Canada? Maybe it's just me, but ever since I was a kid I loved the stuff!

Chef John said...

I haven't heard of that

Dave Hicks said...

If you're ever in Quebec or Eastern Canada I suggest you pick up a can. I've had a few people I've met from the USA that were in the area on vacation, and they said none of the canned pea soup available south of the border compared. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi!
Just found this site last week and love it! Do you think this could be adapted for a crock pot/slow cooker? I'll be getting home late and would love to have this waiting for me!
Thanks,
Caroline

Chef John said...

Yes, I'm sure it would be great. I dont have a crock pot, but I'm sure any CP split pea recipe online could work with these ingredients.

*SpArKy* said...

Its snowing here in NYC, so I decided to make this soup. I couldn't find "country ham" at my super market (and the weather is too awful to walk to Fairway) so I just used regular smoked ham. Nothing like some hot split pea soup with a warm quesadillia to go with the lovelly view of snow falling outside.

THANK YOU!

Chef John said...

thats a great combo! Any ham works. I'm glad you are enjoying it.

wingaling said...

Thanks John! I used my Christmas ham to make this soup. For 25 years my husband has been the "split pea and ham" soup king in our home, keeping his recipe a secret, but I think I dethroned him with this one :)
Like others, I added about a cup or so of julienned carrots for freshness and color. Also for more color, I used half yellow split peas. For some reason kids seem to be intimidated by all that green!

Chef John said...

congrats on the dethroning!

Anonymous said...

Chef John,

Can I use canned summer sweet peas (Green Giant brand) as a substitute for split peas? Would I be able to reduce the cooking time as the peas don't need to be rehydrated? How about frozen peas? Many thanks.

Chef John said...

sure, way faster, but bot the same taste.

Anonymous said...

This a be the second time in one month we will make Chef John's Split Pea soup.

My husband even helped this time as he cannot wait for this simple and yet elegant soup.

Excellent recipe, anyone could make and yet it is so good!

Make a lot though, last time we didn't have any left over it was that good.

Danny said...

Attempted this dish over the weekend with Spam, or what I'd imagine "city ham" would taste like. The Spam was salty enough the soup didn't need any additional salt.

Thanks Chef John!

Ume Bloom said...

I am making this soup as I am writing this comment... Saw the video earlier today... and by the time I got home I decided I HAD to make it. So far my kitchen smells absolutely great. I did add 1/2 tsp cumin and a small cauliflower to it, and added the garlic later, so it can still have it's own power in the flavor.

BIG thank you from Romania!

PukaDog said...

Had a hanker'n for this soup, so came and did a Foodwishes search for the recipe over one year after it was posted. Followed video to the tee and...DELICIOUS! Thanks Chef John. Wish I'd thought to rinse the peas and/or read the comments before cooking, though. Oh well. Live and learn. I made on stove per video in morning, actually had some for breakfast, then transferred to crockpot and kept on warm until I got back home from work. What a treat to arrive to a delightful aroma and warm, hearty bowl of split pea soup!

For the next batch I'll add some diced carrots to the "sweat" along with some dry mustard. Maybe also try the marjoram suggestion as well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe, it was really tasty and easy. Just how I like to describe a recipe.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,

First I'd like to thank you for your site. I'm a recipe addict and your sense of humor and talent for making recipes with such ease and confidence has helped me try things I normally wouldn't.

I'm compelled to post (1st time) because I received a gift from a relative of a smoked turkey (yuk) and a ham. Immediately I thought about making pea soup, regretting that I'd never paid attention to my mom when she made hers. I was so pleased to find that you did a video of your Country Ham and Split Pea soup.

I chuckled at your comment in the video "I wondered how come there's no city ham" and I thought the same.

After I made the initial ham dinner and was about to throw away the pamphlet that came with the ham, I noticed it said "City Ham!"
Now I'm wondering what the difference is. So I googled and found this site. http://www.samcooks.com/food/meat/HamCountry.htm (it is case sensitive to pull up)

So for Danny who posted "what he thought was of city ham" using Spam, and anyone else that would like to be enlightened, here you have it.

I'm sure Chef John that you already knew this and it was your sense of humor to make us all think about it :), however now I have a dilemma, do I use this darn "city ham" for my soup or do I go get myself a country ham?! Not really, if Danny can make Spam work, I'm sure my city ham will be just fine.

In case anyone is wondering of the origin of my city ham, my gift came from www.smokehouse.com

Happy cooking Chef John :)
Respectfully,
A very loyal fan

Fitted kitchens said...

If you use 3 & cannot taste them, they are elderly and/or crappy bay leaves. Buy a new jar, & add one. Then the next time you make it don't, & then tell us the results.

philogaia said...

I get quite a few people who lament not being able to cook very well and not really knowing the basics. This is usually as they are eating some home cooked thing I've done. Since it took me 30 years to get to where I am now I used to not know what to say that would be truly helpful.

Now I just say "Foodwishes.com baby!" I just said it today to a friend who loved her lunch of split pea soup and wanted the recipe. I get my inspiration from a lot of sources, not all of which I would recommend to a beginner but I was able to say that the soup she loved so much was easy and there was a video recipe for it along with lots of videos with basic technique. Foodwishes.com baby.

Korin said...

This soup sounds and looks amazing. I would like to puree the soup. Chef John, could I leave the ham in large pieces, take them out at the end, puree the soup, and add the ham back in?

Chef John said...

Sure! Enjoy!

cookinmom said...

Excellent...hit the spot! Yes, it's raining out and it couldn't taste any better. I let it cook a little longer as I like my soup a thicker. mmm, mmm, good! TKS!

Dingus McDoohickey said...

Hi, Chef John. The link to this video doesn't seem to be working. I've loaded this page in two different browsers and the video doesn't show up. It's a shame, because I'm looking for a new pea soup recipe. Thanks! And thanks for the great, simple, inspiring recipes. You rock!