What better way is there to use a leftover ham bone with chunks of leftover meat on it after the holidays? Oh, yeah, I like smoky bean soup too, and sometimes I make that with leftover ham, but good old split pea soup with smoky ham flavor is a real winner on a cold winter day. It "sticks to the ribs!" The recipe for this soup is very simple. So is the procedure for making it. Allow about one hour from start to finish. This recipe serves four people generously, or six people with moderate appetites.
1 large ham bone with meat attached
1 lb. Bag of dried split green peas, rinsed
2 14 oz. cans of chicken broth
1 14 oz. can of water
1 tsp. of white pepper
¼ tsp. of ground cloves
1 medium onion diced fine
2 large carrots diced fine
3 cloves of fresh garlic minced
Sea salt (variable amount; add after cooking when you adjust the seasoning)
Rinse the split peas in cold water and remove any foreign matter. Put them into a soup pot with the ham bone, the chicken broth and the water and heat on high until the water starts to boil. Add the diced carrot and minced garlic and white pepper and mix well.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Let it simmer for 30 minutes. Then extract the ham bone and remove all meat from it, de-fat it and dice the meat and return it to the pot. Discard the bone and the fat.
Continue to simmer the soup, stirring about every five minutes while the peas finish cooking and start to disintegrate into the soup. At this point, stir the soup slowly but at least once every two to three minutes, checking for doneness. The soup is done when the peas have broken down and become part of the soup broth and when the consistency of the soup is medium thick. You don’t want thin soup but you also don’t want paste, so keep stirring until you have a medium consistency. The soup will thicken more when it cools so don’t overdo the cooking time.
Adjust the seasoning. This means be ready to add sea salt, but not before tasting the soup to determine how much salt the ham contributed. You may need none or up to one teaspoon of salt depending on the ham.
Serve the soup with crackers and butter and something light to drink, like a light medium dry white wine or a lemon/lime soda. I promise your family and/or guests will be very happy and satisfied. No one walks away hungry.
Note that this soup, indeed most soups except those containing milk or cream, will process nicely for vacuum sealing when they are cold. They freeze well, so you can make large amounts or save leftovers with no loss of quality by vacuum sealing and freezing amounts of one to two servings. A short time in a microwave oven later restores the soup to its original goodness. Just remember not to do that with most cream soups as freezing breaks down the cream soup emulsion and you can never get it back to the right consistency upon reheating.