Split Pea Soup! And……
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread! Two great tastes, that taste great together.
(Why am I suddenly craving peanut butter cups?)
Split Pea Soup. Simple, hearty, delicious. And easy to make!
Here’s what you need:
1 bag of dried green split peas, smoked ham hocks or shanks*, ham slice*, water, low sodium chicken broth, onion, carrots, celery, potato, dried tarragon, bay leaf, salt, pepper, dry sherry (optional).
Look at that! I managed to get all the ingredients in the photo for once.
*Let’s talk ham — To get that great smokey ham flavor in soups, you will need some sort of smoked ham bone or pieces. This can be ham hocks (pictured), shanks (a slightly larger and meatier piece) or even a bone from a slicing ham. You will probably find the ham or soup bones somewhere in the packaged meats near the bacon. If you don’t see them, be sure to ask.
I love the ham hocks for their great flavor but they don’t have much usable meat on the bones…and let’s be honest, this soup is all about the little ham pieces. So, I also buy a slice of ham from the deli counter. Ask them for a thick slice (about 1/2 inch) that you can cut into cubes. I bought 2 slices – a little over 1/2 pound total.
Another handy tip: my store sells the ham hocks in packages of 4. Use 2 for this soup and pop the other 2 in a ziplock bag and put them in the freezer for some delicious soup in the future.
Have you noticed that this recipe doesn’t contain any butter, olive oil or heavy cream? It’s actually pretty healthy. How about that? Split peas are naturally high in protein and fiber. If you wanted to be a health nut, you could omit the ham (gasp!) or substitute lower fat turkey ham.
Begin by chopping a large onion into small pieces.
Throw the onion into a big soup pot.
Peel the carrots and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Cut across the quarters to make small diced pieces.
Toss the carrots into the pot with the onions.
Chop up 2 ribs from a stalk of celery.
Add them to the pot with the other veggies.
Peel and chop up a large potato and add it to the pot. I only had small potatoes so I used 3 small yukon golds. You want at least a generous cup of diced potatoes…doesn’t really matter what kind they are.
Place your dried split peas in a strainer and carefully look for any little bits or pieces that are not peas. Like this thing. I think it’s a piece of stem or something, but I don’t want it in my soup.
Rinse the split peas under running water to wash out any other little bits and grit, then add them to the pot.
Add your ham hocks to the pot and pour in 4 cups of water. 4 cups = 1 quart.
Add 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth. 4 cups = the whole 32 ounce box.
Add 1 bay leaf. (You will want to remove the bay leaf before serving so try to use a leaf that is not broken.)
The bay leaf is the dried leaf of the Bay Laurel tree. You can actually grow these trees fairly easily in a pot and dry your own bay leaves. Or, you can find them already dried in the spice section of the store. They add great flavor to soups, stews and sauces.
Also add 1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon.
Add some freshly cracked black pepper. Do you have a pepper mill? Freshly ground/cracked pepper makes a BIG flavor difference.
I would wait to salt this until the end. The smoked ham hocks are pretty salty. Let them flavor your soup while it cooks and then if you want to add more salt later, you can.
Bring the soup to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for about one hour stirring occasionally to keep any bits from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
This is how the soup looks after about 30 minutes of cooking. See how the peas are just starting to soften. Be sure it’s simmering gently, put the lid back on and keep cooking.
After about 1 hour, the peas are really starting to fall apart. The other veggies are tender and delicious. The broth is thicker and smelling lovely. This is good.
Slice your thick ham slices lengthwise into thin into strips. Cut across the strips to make little ham cubes. Try to keep from eating all the ham cubes before you put them into the soup.
Remove the ham hocks from the soup pot. If you can find the bay leaf, take it out too. Add the ham cubes to the soup.
Allow the soup to cook with the lid off for a few more minutes until the ham heats through. Now is a good time to taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper to your liking.
Time for the optional secret ingredient. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of Dry Sherry* at the very end of the cooking process. This gives just a hint of sherry flavor but a HUGE boost to the overall flavor of the soup.
*A word about cooking with Wine, Sherry, Marsala, etc. Please for the love of all things sacred, buy real wine and sherry NOT something called “Cooking Wine” or “Cooking Sherry”. It doesn’t have to be super fancy or expensive. In fact, you can see that my sherry had a screw top. Look for sherry in the wine section of your store. Sherry comes in Cream and Dry varieties. I prefer Dry Sherry for cooking. Cream sherry is for sipping when your guests arrive from jolly old England.
Delicious Split Pea Soup with Ham.
Great by itself, but EVEN BETTER with Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread!
(Cue choirs of angels singing…this is goooood cornbread.)
Don’t give me any of that, “But I can’t bake” nonsense either. It takes 5 minutes tops to throw all the ingredients together and 20 minutes to bake this delicious cornbread.
Here’s what you need:
Yellow Corn Meal, Flour, Milk, 1 egg, Baking Powder, Sugar, Salt, Cooking Oil, Onion, Jalapeno Pepper, Grated Cheddar Cheese.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Pour 1 cup of Corn Meal and 1 cup of flour into a mixing bowl.
Add 2 Tablespoons of sugar, 1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder (remember Baking POWDER is in the round can NOT the orange box…that’s baking soda), and 1 teaspoon salt.
Mix the dry ingredients together.
Add 1/3 cup salad or cooking oil (I have canola oil but corn oil or any light cooking oil will work. Don’t use olive oil because it’s flavor will over-power the cornbread) to 1 cup of milk. I mix the wet ingredients right in the measuring cup so they are easy to pour.
Add one egg to the milk and oil. Whip lightly with a fork to break up the egg and combine the liquid ingredients.
Add the milk/oil/egg liquids to the dry ingredients. Stir gently just until the ingredients start to combine. Do not over-stir. We will stir more ingredients in later.
Chop or Mince 1/4 of an onion (about 1/4 cup) into very tiny little pieces.
This is the same technique that we use to chop up onions, however make the slices slices along the onion as close together as possible. Likewise, chop across the onion as thinly as possible. Keep your fingers curved out of the way!
See how much smaller these onion pieces are. Dicing = small pieces. Mincing = tiny pieces.
Cut a jalapeno pepper in half and with a small sharp knife, carefully remove the seeds and all the membranes from the inside of the pepper.
By removing the seeds and white pithy membrane, we are removing most of the heat from the pepper leaving ALL of the flavor! Even if you don’t like spicy foods, I encourage you to put the jalapeno in the cornbread. It really is not very spicy at all and add TONS of flavor.
Slice the pepper into very small, thin strips and cut across the strips to mince the pepper into tiny, tiny pieces.
Now PLEASE go wash your hands with soap and water. Do not touch your eyes, nose or any other important parts.
Add the minced onion, minced jalapeno and about 1/2 cup of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese to the cornbread batter.
Stir only until the ingredients are combined. Don’t go all crazy and over-stir.
Pour the batter into a greased (I used cooking spray) 9 inch pan. Any sort of pie pan or baking pan will do. I’m using a round cake pan.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until golden brown. You can test with a toothpick in the center — if it comes out clean, the cornbread is done.
Enjoy this cornbread warm, right out of the oven. (It’s also really good with chili!)
Here are the printable recipes: