I originally wrote this post pre November 8th and couldn’t bring myself to publish it until now. I honestly felt silly writing about food and cooking after such a disappointing and troubling election outcome (understatement.) But, we will need nourishment for the struggle and if any recipe could offer that it’s this one. So without further apology…
It’s beginning to feel more and more wintery – the wind is whipping, the wool sweater brigade is in full effect, and I’ve found myself Pinning holiday ideas even though the Halloween candy hasn’t been distributed. While in some ways I wish I could hold off the really frigid part of winter, there’s something so cozy about a blustery, wet day.
I’d love to return home to a fire crackling away, but since our apartment doesn’t run to wood-burning fire places (probably for the best) instead I’ve been on the hunt for new soups and stews to lend that necessary warmth. I’ve been scouring the Bon Appetit archives and finding so many treasures that I think my cookbook collection is starting to feel neglected. So be it, because this soup is too good to keep to myself.
The humble combination of green split peas and potatoes are elevated by a rich blend of onions, leeks, and garlic; and studded with bits of smoky ham. It’s a healthful, satisfying dish that rewards the patient cook, but amazingly requires minimal hands-on time. As with other slow-cooked recipes, this soup only grows in power overnight, so make extra.
Full disclosure: the first time I made this recipe I completely misjudged the amount of liquid needed and ended up with more of a split pea hash than soup. I was afraid that I had completely ruined a perfectly good soup, but a quick taste revealed that the flavors were wonderful and tasted even better when topped with a fried egg. Highly recommend this approach when serving!
Hearty Split Pea Soup (serves 6-8)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (1 medium) chopped onion
1 cup (2 medium) chopped leeks, white and pale-green parts only
1/2 cup (2 stalks) chopped celery
2 tablespoons (4 cloves) minced garlic
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups (2 medium) small diced Yukon Gold potatoes
1/3 pound (1 cup) minced smoked ham
8 fresh thyme stems
2 bay leaves
2 cups (16 ounces) dried green split peas
8 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth
Prepare the vegetables, chopping the onion, leeks, and celery into fine dice and mincing the cloves of garlic.
In a large French oven, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the vegetables and sauté for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. Season with a sprinkle of kosher salt, about 1/2 teaspoon.
Meanwhile, wash the potatoes and cut into small dice (no need to remove the skins!) and finely mince the ham. Add the potatoes and the minced ham to the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes until the potatoes begin to soften. Season with another 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper.
Tie the thyme stems together with kitchen twine (it will make them easier to remove later) and add to the pot along with the bay leaves, dried split peas, and chicken broth.
Increase the temperature to medium-high and bring the soup up to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours stirring occasionally to keep the soup from burning or sticking. The soup is ready when the potatoes are very soft and have begun to break down and thicken the broth. Check the seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems. Serve with toasted rye croutons, a dollop of sour cream, a fried egg, or parmesan toast.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
100%. I used a large French oven (5.5qt), a chef’s knife, medium cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, along with a flat sided wooden spoon. That’s it!