Thursday, March 28, 2013

Eating Well: French-Canadian Split Pea Soup

Last weekend, whilst at Trader Joe's, I saw that they had already begun to stock 1/4- and 1/2 hams, and right then and there, decided I couldn't wait for Easter.
But now, Easter's not even here yet, and we've already had leftover ham sandwiches, and breakfast with eggs and leftover ham, and STILL have ham remaining.
What to do with the leftover-leftovers? I made use of every last morsel (including the ham bone), by making pea soup!

This is a SUPER-THICK, hearty, "stick-to-your-ribs" soup -- which will become very evident during the last 30-60 minutes of cooking.
If you prefer your soup a little thinner, just add more stock/water in 1/2-cup increments until the consistency is to your liking.
This also makes a LOT of soup, but it freezes well -- perfect for reheating on a cooler night, or whenever you want some comfort food.

If you prefer a meatless/vegan/vegetarian version, by all means, omit the ham (and replace the chicken stock with water or vegetable stock). I've made it both ways, and either way, it's scrumptious.

French Canadian Split Pea Soup

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
3-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (I prefer to have larger pieces of garlic)
1 ham bone, preferably with a good amount of meat still on it. (optional – omit for a meatless version)
2 cups dried split yellow (or green) peas
1/2 cup barley* (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
10 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 potatoes, diced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, minced (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large pot over medium high heat, sauté the oil, onion, bay leaf, and garlic for 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. 
Add the ham bone (if using), peas, barley, salt, and chicken/vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. 
 Remove the ham bone from the soup, let cool, and remove meat from the bone. Dice ham, and stir into the soup. Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, parsley, basil, thyme, and pepper.
 Simmer for another hour, or until the peas and vegetables are tender.

*To my knowledge, barley isn't a traditional component of French-Canadian pea soup, but I looooooove it, especially in this soup.

Bon Appétit!


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