Posted by: A Part of the Solution | February 27, 2010

The Ham of Doom

Mostly we had ham sandwiches and ham omlettes and ham in the battuto of the pasta sauce and ham on crackers with cheese and like that. But when the time came, we took the bone and laid it in the water with the sautéed aromatics and the green split peas and cooked the whole gently for hours on end. To that I added cubed ham and vinegar and lots of parsley and hot sauce and all the other things that make a split pea soup great.

Due to my largely (though not wholly) vegetarian upbringing, my split pea soup is based on the classic from the first Moosewood cookbook. It makes a great soup without the bone or added ham. It makes an even better soup with those ingredients, if one’s palate and dietary choices support the addition of the salty flesh and bone from a pig.

Even though we were pretty tired of ham by the time the soup rotated onto our menu, it was delicious enough that we both had seconds. And we’ve been reheating it by the bowlful across the week–since I only know how to make it in quantities that would feed the Duggars without a fuss. Never underestimate the power of a hot, filling soup on a cold winter’s day.

The rest of the Ham of Doom we packaged and froze. There’s probably only six or seven pounds left to go….

Split Pea Soup–With and Without

2 TBSP fat or oil for the sauté, bacon drippings or unrefined peanut oil are best

1 large onion, chopped

1 large carrot, cut into medium dice

1 whole head of garlic, peeled, trimmed, desprouted and minced

2 stalks of celery, cut into medium dice, leaves minced

1 TBSP tomato paste

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp black pepper, or to taste

1-1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

2-1/2 cups green split peas

1 ham bone (optional)

2 smallish potatoes, peeled and cut in medium dice

3 TBSP vinegar–malt or apple cider

2 cups diced ham (optional)

1-1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup minced parsley

soy sauce or tamari to taste (optional)

hot sauce, as desired (‘rooster’ or ‘shark’–the Asian ones whose names I can’t read, or Frank’s or Tabasco, or whatever’s on hand)

Heat the fat or oil in goodly sized dutch oven. Add the onion and sauté until it takes good color. Add the carrots next. When they begin to brighten, add the garlic and cook stirring occasionally over slightly lowered heat. Then add the celery and the next five ingredients. Let those cook well in. The tomato paste will darken, and all kinds of aromas will get stronger as the spices toast. Add the bay leaves, the peas, the ham bone (if using) and water to cover the peas and a good two inches more. Bring this to a boil and reduce to a low seethe–not even a simmer. Let ‘er go for up to four hours, but not fewer than two and a half.

Add the potatoes, the vinegar and the Worcestershire. Cook for another half hour. If you’re using the ham bone, pull it from the soup now and pick the meat from it. Chop that small and throw it back into the pot. Now add the last four ingredients, whichever you choose, tasting carefully as you go. The ham adds lots of salt. The vegetarian version really benefits from the soy sauce/tamari addition. It’ll be done in fifteen minutes. Serve this with love and cornbread.

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