Thursday, September 30, 2010

Guilt-ridden Split Pea Soup

So there's a story behind the name of this soup. My co-worker, who we'll call PanDuh (he knows why) has a tendency to step on others' toes. He obviously is aware when he inadvertently upsets someone so as a mea culpa, he'll do something nice. Well recently he must have really smashed some toes because he ended up buying a ham from Honey Baked Ham. If you're familiar with Honey Baked Ham then you know that not only are they tasty, but they aren't cheap either! Well PanDuh's latest victim declined the ham (but hopefully accepted the apology??) so PanDuh left it for all of his co-workers to enjoy. After a few days of munching, I decided to take the ham bone home to make some soup. I thought about lima bean soup or black-eye pea soup but I settled on split pea soup. Honestly, I'm not even sure if I've ever had split pea soup before but for the most part I like beans so I figured with the right recipe, it's going to taste good! I found Alton Brown's recipe and decided that would be the one I would use with a few adjustments to incorporate the ham bone. The thing that I liked best about his version was that it used curry... I love curry! And if you've ever had honey curried chicken then you KNOW honey and curry go well together so I figured the ham bone would compliment this soup quite nicely. Here's what I needed for the soup.

Please notice the spanking new box of Kosher Salt!! Finally I don't have to face that poor, battered old box. I started the soup the night before by soaking the peas after going through them to make sure no rocks were in there. Who knew split peas grew in rocks!! Okay, that was cheesy. Anyhow, after soaking the peas overnight, I diced up the onion and garlic. Over medium low heat I melted the butter. Once melted I added the diced onions and a healthy pinch of salt. After cooking for about 3 minutes, you'll be ready to add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. You're actually sweating the onions and garlic so you want to make sure it doesn't sizzle and you definitely don't want the onions or garlic to brown.

After the onions and garlic were properly sweated, I added the chicken broth, curry and split peas. Here's where the first part of my adjustment to the recipe comes into play. As usual, I didn't have any chicken broth. Why buy it when I can make it?? So I used three Knorr chicken cubes and seven cups of water. The recipe only calls for five cups of water but I also had a 16 ounce bag of split peas versus the 12 ounces the recipe calls for. So I figured 7 cups of water would prevent the extra chicken cubes and ham bone from making the soup too salty but it wouldn't dilute the split pea factor since I was working with more than the original recipe called for. Once I'd added the broth, curry and peas to the pot, I added the ham bone.

I brought the soup to a boil then covered and reduced to low to simmer for about a hour. After an hour had passed I pulled out the ham bone and set it aside. I noticed that there was still a good amount of meat on the bone so once it was cooled I would pull off the meat to add to the soup. In the meantime I used a blender to puree the soup mixture. This would be a good time to have an immersion blender! If you're working with a blender like I did, this will take about three or four batches. Don't fill it up too much and make sure to keep a a hand on the lid as the soup mixture may jump up some especially with it being warm. After each batch I poured the soup through a strainer into a container. Ideally if you have a cheese cloth you can pour the mixture through that so it ends up with a very smooth puree but I worked with what I had!

Once the entire soup was pureed I turned to the ham bone and picked off the meat. It was a decent amount! And look, you can see how the ham has really absorbed the curry coloring.

I added the meat to the completed soup and decided to store it in the fridge for a couple of hours in order to allow the fat to solidify at the top so it could easily be removed. Well guess what... barely any fat!!! It was a tiny, thin layer. Still, I removed it so I made a healthy soup even healthier.

So the real test would be Skywalker. We're talking about a green liquid... I'd force her to try it BUT would she like it?? I warmed a bowl up and crossed my fingers.

Not only did she like it, she LOVED IT!!! Once it was done, it was PERFECTLY seasoned which, if you know me, is a big deal. I'm a bit of a salt-a-holic but the flavor was so perfect the idea of adding salt just never crossed my mind. Oh and yeah, I never did get around to using any black pepper either.

Who knew guilt could produce great soup??

(Adapted from Curried Split Pea Soup)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
16 ounces dried green split peas, picked over and rinsed
7 cups water
3 Knorr chicken  bouillon cubes
1 tablespoon curry powder


  1. Rinse and pick through split peas. Soak in water overnight.
  2. Over medium-low heat, melt butter in a pot (at least 4 quart). Add chopped onions and a healthy pinch of salt.
  3. Sweat the onions for about 3 minutes. Add minced garlic and continue cooking for about 2 minutes being careful to avoid allowing the garlic or onions to brown.   
  4. Add the peas, chicken broth and curry powder. Stir to mix.
  5. Add ham bone then increase heat to high. Once boiling, reduce to low and simmer for about an hour.
  6. Puree soup with either an immersion blender or a regular blender, taking care to avoid hot splatters.
  7. Add salt if needed.

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