Even though we’ve had an incredibly mild winter I still can’t help but want some of the comfort foods that go along with this time of year. This is a classic rendition of that childhood favorite (at least mine anyway). It’s simple to prepare and any leftovers will freeze and reheat well.
1 Pound dried split peas
1 Smoked ham hock
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 Cup finely chopped celery
1/2 Cup finely chopped carrots
2 Teaspoons minced garlic
1 Pound Smithfield ham, chopped
1 Teaspoon salt
3/4 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 Cups water
1 Bay leaf
2 Teaspoons fresh thyme
- Place the peas in a large pot or bowl, cover with water by 2 inches and soak 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain the peas and set aside.
- Score the ham hock. Place in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Add the celery and carrots and cook, stirring, until just soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
- Add the ham hock and ham and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown.
- Add the drained peas, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
- Add 8 cups of water, the bay leaf and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. (Add more water as needed, if the soup becomes too thick or dry.)
- Remove the bay leaf and discard. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve immediately.
Optional – Top with homemade croutons and/or crumbled bacon!