Split Pea Soup with Garlic Croutons

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Ingredients:

2 T olive oil
6 slender carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks with leaves, rinsed and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb ham, chopped
1 T garlic, minced
1 t dried basil
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t dried rosemary
1/4 t ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef stock
1 lb dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
6 cups water
3 cups white potatoes (not baking potatoes), sliced into large chunks
2 T flat leaf parsley, chopped
Optional seasoning: a few splash of Tabasco or soy sauce
One recipe Garlic Croutons

Spoon Mage™ Ingredient Note:

A meaty ham bone can replace the ham. Simply remove the bone near the end of cooking, let it cool so that you can mess with it without burning your fingers. Then remove the meat and return it to the soup.

I like to use one of those nice 1 pound or so single slices of ham with a circle of bone in the center. The texture and size of the ham is just right. Trim most, but not all, of the firm fat off before adding the meat to the soup. Use the gelatinous fat in the soup. I do not bother to use the small bone as I find it hard to fish out, but you can if you wish.

Salt is not necessary as there is already plenty in the ham and stock.

If something is missing that salt would usually fix, consider accenting the flavors in another way if the flavors are not quite “there”. A few drops of Tabasco or two shakes of hot red pepper flakes works quite nicely. In this much soup there will be no tell-tale heat. A bit of an acidic such as apple cider vinegar works as well.

Directions:

Sift through the split peas, removing the small stones which, while not common, sometimes get harvested with the peas. Stones are not tasty, although I have heard some good things about Stone Soup.

Place the peas in a fine mesh colander and rinse thoroughly, sifting with your fingers until the peas are cleaned and the water runs clear.

Prep the carrots, celery, onion, ham, and garlic.

Set a large soup pot over medium heat. When the pan is hot add the oil, swirl, and wait one minute.

Add the carrots, celery, and onion, and ham. Saute for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onions soften and the carrots brighten in color.

Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes.

Stir in the basil, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, and bay leaf. Stir for 1 minute.

Pour in the beef stock.

Tip the peas into the pot and add 6 cups of water.

Prep and add the chunks of potato.

Bring the mixture to a low simmer and cover, cooking for 45 minutes to one hour. Stir every now and then. How long you cook the soup depends upon how firm you like your peas. My family enjoys them well cooked. Be mindful and make it yours.

While the soup is simmering, make the garlic croutons.

Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit you. I won’t look if you add more salt, but why not try a few shakes of Tabasco or hot red pepper flakes instead.

For thicker soup, use a potato masher to smash a bit of the potato.

Keep the soup warm on the lowest possible setting until dinner.

Right before serving, stir in the parsley. Top each serving with a handful of garlic croutons. Enjoy mindfully.

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