If there's ever a leftover ham in my midst, I will grab it and make split pea soup. I was recently at a party with a bunch of people I didn't know very well and I heard talk of throwing the leftovers away. It pained me, but I had to let that one go, because I didn't want to be known as the new girl who took the ham. I still think about it. Obviously.
There wasn't a ham in my midst today, and at least some of the last few soups I made had pancetta in them, so I decided to go vegetarian. Vegan, actually, because I used olive oil instead of butter, and skipped adding milk at the end. It's a great recipe either way, and I will feel good about my healthy lunch this week.
Don't worry. I'll still tell you how I make it when there's ham.
Split Pea Soup
6 tablespoons butter (I used 1/2 cup olive oil)
4 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced into rounds
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 large onion
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 pounds dried split green peas
14 cups of water
1 meaty ham bone (or not)
4 sprigs fresh parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup milk (I left this out)
The split peas can be soaked overnight in cold water, covered by 4 inches, OR you can add a half hour to the cooking time.
Heat the olive oil in your soup pot, and add the leeks, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper, cooking for 10 minutes until softened but not brown. Add the split peas, water, (ham), and herbs, and let simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (or as long as 2 1/2 hours if you didn't have the foresight to soak the peas overnight).
Remove the bay leaves and the ham bone, if there is one, and stir in the milk (if you're adding it). You can puree part or all of the soup, or you can go "rustic" (lazy) and save yourself from having to clean another appliance. Add chopped pieces of leftover ham if you've got them, and season to taste with more salt and pepper.
I didn't want to miss out on all the fun, so I cooked some shallots in really hot oil to make them crispy, and put them on top of the soup.
Have a good week!