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Friday, February 5, 2010

ugly, cheap and yummy-- split pea soup

split pea soup is not sexy. not one bit. but, it is tasty. and it's cheap!

we're eating on-the-cheap these days, partly because i'm trying to save money, and partly because i think it's fun. i love to see what i can make out of ingredients we already have on hand. i've had the split peas around for so long that i don't even notice them anymore-- they're just a part of the pantry landscape. finally, this week they caught my eye. i only needed to purchase a big fat ham hock and i was ready to go. the soup even made use of the half celery root i had in the fridge-- another victory over the compost bin!

from german split pea soup

1 Tbsp extra virgin live oil
1 Tbsp bacon grease
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1/2 celery root, peeled and finely chopped
kosher salt, to taste
1 Tbsp flour
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small bay leaf
1/2 lb split peas, rinsed and drained
1 large ham hock
4 cups water

heat oil and bacon grease together in heavy soup pot. saute onions, carrots, and celery root on medium heat until softened, about 5-10 minutes. season with salt. stir in flour and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.

tie thyme sprigs together with kitchen twine. add to pot along with peas, hamhock, and 4 cups water. bring to a boil over high heat. reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until peas are tender, about one hour. (i cooked closer to an hour and a half until the peas were total mush.) add water if the soup looks too thick for your taste.

remove thyme and bay leaf. remove ham hock and allow to cool. pull off and chop any meat from the hock, and discard the fat, skin, and bone. add chopped meat to soup, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

i like this soup thick and lumpy, but it can be thinned with water and pureed, before adding ham, for a smooth texture. the original recipe calls for cooking bacon as the first step, and serving the soup with the crumbled bacon. i'll likely go this direction next time since i'd have liked a little more pork in the soup. the ham hock didn't yield very much. still, a very yummy soup for the price of a pig bone! 

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