Split-pea soup

I need your help on this one, family.  I vaguely remember some story we used to read, or maybe it was a Shel Silverstein poem, that involved split-pea soup, portraying it as something rather gross.  Do any of you remember?  If not, I may have to scour the bookshelf in Kristin’s old room when we’re out there in June.  Anyway, we made split-pea soup for dinner tonight.  It was the first time I’ve had it (that I recall), and it was quite good.  It had a very pleasant, pea-centric vegetable flavor, with a nice bacony smokiness owing to the smoked ham hocks we cooked it with.  

The soup itself was good, but it was made great in delicious sourdough bread bowls.  For the bread bowls, I used the same sourdough bread recipe I’ve posted in the past.  The recipe as posted will make 8 bread bowls (I scaled it to 3/4 of the posted recipe, to make 6 bowls)  Each loaf should be about the 250g if you have a scale, or about the size of a baseball (perhaps a bit smaller) when you form the loaves.  You can let them rise in small cereal or soup bowls (preferably ones with tall sides rather than wide, shallow bowls), lined with flour-dusted cotten cloths (like cloth napkins, scraps of muslin, or whatever you have around).  Instead of making slashes across the loaves, I sliced a circle around the top, which makes it easier to cut out the top for the bread bowl.  Once the loaves are baked and cooled, just slice off the top, then cut around the sides of the loaf and use a spoon to dig out the interior crumb to make the bread bowl.  I’d put these up against Panera, or any other sourdough bread bowls you might find anywhere–they were that good. 

Bread bowls after baking

 Aubrey declined the soup and just ate one of the mini-loaves whole.  She loves bread, and I love to indulge her by making it.  Isaac has a psychological aversion to sourdough, even though the sourness in my bread is almost imperceptibly mild.  He ate watermelon, and that’s about it. 

Split Pea Soup: 

  • 1 lb dried green split peas
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed, peeled and chopped
  • 2 well-rinsed smoked ham hocks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Several sprigs of thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom of a large pot.  Once the oil is heated saute the chopped vegetables and garlic until they soften.  Add the remaining ingredients, plus 10 cups of water (or chicken or vegetable stock, or some combination of stock and water).  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 30-60 minutes, until the peas are cooked and tender and the flavors of the soup have come together nicely.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as necessary throughout the cooking time. 

We cooked it the night before so that we could just reheat it after Church.  When you’re ready to eat the soup, fish out the bay leaves and thyme stalks, and pull out the ham hocks.   If desired, trim and scrape the meat off of the ham hocks and add it back into the soup.  We started doing this, but couldn’t get enough off of the hocks to be worth it.  Depending on your preferences, you might puree the soup for a smooth, even texture; leave it as is; or, puree half the soup to thicken it up while leaving some texture.  We did not puree at all, since the peas had disintegrated enough not to be worth it, and we liked the bit of texture remaining from the diced vegetables.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top and freshly grated parmesan.

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