Split Pea Soup with Ham Hocks
Finish Split Pea Soup with a dollop of Garlic Yogurt (see recipe here) or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Whether to purée split pea soup is a personal decision, and isn’t necessary. I’ve served and enjoyed the soup both ways. Lately, I’m liking the more refined puréed version; its flavors seem to be better balanced. Split Pea Soup freezes really well and a quart freezer bag easily holds enough Split Pea Soup for two. Of course, you can always cut the recipe in half if you aren’t serving a crowd or stocking your freezer or don’t have a large enough pot (a Dutch oven is only big enough to make half a recipe). I use a mortar and pestle for crushing the peppercorns, but you can also crush them with the bottom of a saucepan.
2 pounds dried green split peas
4 cups diced onion, 1/4” dice (about 2 large)
2 cups diced garnet yams (sweet potatoes), 1/4” dice (about 3 medium)
1 1/2 cups diced celery, 1/4” dice (about 3 stalks)
1 cup diced carrots, 1/4” dice (about 3 medium)
1 Tbsp. freshly crushed black peppercorns
1 Tbsp. freshly crushed dried thyme
2 cups white wine
5 bay leaves
2 – 2 1/2 pounds smoked ham hock, cut in thirds
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Spread out the split peas on a tray or flat pan and inspect carefully, removing any pebbles or debris. Rinse and drain the split peas. Put the split peas, onions, garnet yams, celery, carrots, crushed peppercorns, crushed thyme, white wine, bay leaves, and ham hocks in a very large stock pot. Add water to cover the ingredients by 6 inches (3 inches if you cut the recipe in half). Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 2 hours. Remove the cover and simmer for 1-3 more hours until the split peas are very soft, the meat is falling off the bone, and the liquid is reduced to your liking.
Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the bay leaves and the ham hocks, including all the bones and chunks of fat. If you are puréeing the soup, process it with a stick blender (or in a blender or food processor) until it is very smooth.
Remove and discard all the fat and bones from the ham hocks. Dice the meat into bite sized pieces and add it back to the soup. If the soup is too thin, simmer it longer. If it is too thick, thin it with water and simmer for 15 minutes before serving.