When it turns cold outside, my cravings turn to soup on the inside. Nothing wards off my winter chills better than a big bowl of one of my favorite soups and an even bigger chunk of crusty bread for dunking in it! With a very meaty ham bone stashed in the freezer, from recent holiday entertaining, this split pea soup was a no brainer. Stay warm my friends!
Split Pea Soup with Ham and Bacon Recipe
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Grains of Paradise
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
7 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 carrots, chopped
1 meaty ham bone
2 cups small ham cubes
1 16-ounce package split peas, rinsed
2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, garnish
Crusty bread, optional
Into a spice bag or cheesecloth, place bay leaf, grains of paradise and thyme sprigs. Tie with kitchen twine and set aside.
In a dutch oven, over medium heat add oil and cook bacon, onion and celery for 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Tie spice bag to handle of pot and drop over into the pot. Add stock, carrots, ham bone, ham cubes and peas. Stir ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 50-60 minutes.
Remove the spice bag and discard. Remove ham bone to a bowl and set aside. To thicken the soup, ladle half the soup into a blender--working in batches--and puree. Be sure to place a kitchen towel over the top of the blender and hold, to prevent hot liquid from spraying up out of the blender. Return pureed soup to the pot. When ham bone is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and discard the bone. Chop the meat and return to pot.
In a skillet, over medium heat, sauté remaining bacon pieces until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove from skillet and drain on paper towel. Set aside until ready to serve soup. Spoon soup into individual bowls and garnish with bacon bits and crusty bread.