Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pea Soup

Well folks, I hate to say it but summer is over - the cold weather has hit Chicago. I finally had to turn the heat on yesterday. So cold weather means long, hot, slow-cooked meals like pea soup. I would usually hold this post until right after New Year's Day. Mom always made a ham for New Year's but it was the canned, boneless, pre-formed kind and thus, no bone for pea soup. However, after a few years and probably since Grandma Austin did this, Mom started making what we called "fresh ham." It was a large pork roast that was either fresh or smoked but not long cured like Smithfield ham. It had a nice smokey pork flavor and was great for making pea soup.

This recipe is an adaptation of one by Martha Stewart and I like it because it uses unpeeled potatoes. This is the magic ingredient because it seems to soak up all the salt and eliminates that over-salted pea soup experience we've all come to know.


2 large onions, chopped
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
Pinch ground cloves
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 lb ham scraps, chopped
1 ham bone
12 cups water
3 large russet potatoes, chopped into medium pieces
1 lb green split peas


1. Over medium heat, sauté onions and butter in a large (13 qt) dutch oven until translucent.

2. Add ham scraps and then add rosemary, cloves and salt and pepper to taste. Then deglaze with wine and cook for 1 minute.

3. Place ham bone in the middle of the dutch oven and add water. Bring to boil. Lower to a simmer and cook , covered, for 90 minutes to form a rich stock.

4. Remove ham bone and let cool. Remove any remaining ham meat, chop and add to stock.

5. Bring stock to a boil and add potatoes (with or without skins on) and peas.

6. Cook for 45 minutes until peas have formed a smooth puree.


Serve with good bread and white or rose wine.