It’s my absolute favorite soup to make.
It’s oh so savory and smoky; with just a touch of earthiness thanks to the split peas.
The key to really good split pea soup is REALLY great ham hocks. I will drive great distances to purchase heavenly hocks. Some stores will try to sell you sub-par hocks (for cheap prices). Do not be swindled. A great hock is worth every penny. High quality hocks also tend to have LOTS of meat left on them. Again, totally worth the extra drive (and extra bucks). I buy my smoked ham hocks from our local co-op; where they sell locally sourced hocks. In cold weather months, it’s nearly impossible to find them any day other than delivery day. And here’s the thing about delivery day…it’s not always the same day every week. So you really have to stalk the butcher guys to get the “down low” on the hocks.
End of ham hock story.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
-2 cups of split peas; rinsed
-1 large smoked ham hock
-1/2 of a yellow onion; chopped
-2 large carrots; peeled and chopped
-3 celery stalks; ends trimmed and chopped
-3 cloves of garlic; minced
-1 Tbs olive oil
-2 bay leaves
-12 cups of water
-2 Tbs Better Than Bouillon low-sodium chicken base (you don’t NEED this, but it adds extra flavor and depth to the soup).
salt and pepper
In a large Dutch Oven (8 quart), heat oil over medium heat. Add your onion, celery, and carrots. Cook the veggies until soft. Add your minced garlic. Now, add your ham hock, dried peas, water, and bay leaves. Add the Better Than Bouillon now (if you were adding it). Add a few grinds of salt and pepper. I go pretty lenient on the salt since the hock is smoked and will add a nice salty flavor to the mix. You can always add more salt later.
Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. The longer it cooks the better it’ll taste!!
Remove ham hock from the soup and set aside (preferably on a large plate or cutting board). Remove bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until everything is a uniform consistency. **This step isn’t necessary, but in order to get my toddler to eat ANY soup, everything has to be the same texture and consistency**
Remove meat from the hock. I try to shred the meat as best I can before putting it back in the soup. I buy really meaty hocks, which result in about 2 cups of shredded hocky goodness when I’m all done. Again, I love me some hocks. **I tend to discard all of the fat, but you can keep whatever you like. I save the cleaned bones to use in bone broths later (like a beef stock). Just pop them in a freezer bag and store in your freezer until you’re ready to use them**
Re-add the meat and bay leaves to the soup and continue to simmer on low until you’re ready to serve.
Serve with fresh crusty bread. Sourdough is our favorite.
**This makes an outrageous amount of soup. Which means at least half will automatically go into the freezer once it’s cooled. Perfect for busy weeknight dinners**
*You can easily turn this into a slow cooker recipe by adding all of your ingredients to the slow cooker. Then, set it on low for 8 hours.*