Hey peeps! How’s it cookin’ so far for Soup Week? Did any of you try Jen’s Practically Famous Chili yesterday? It’s good isn’t it? Later on this week I’ll show you my interpretation of chili, but first we’ve got a whole bunch of other kinds of soup to talk about!
Before we talk about this split pea and ham soup, though, have any of you tried the Wii Just Dance or Just Dance 2 games? This past weekend was La Petite Diva’s birthday and I got her the 2nd version of the game. OMG!!!! So fun! It was the most entertaining sweat I’ve had in forever. Alas…it made me realize something. While I am far more fit than I was…say…155 lbs. ago…I’m not 18 anymore. A long, hot bath was in order last night.
What does any of this have to do with Soup Week? Well, we had so much fun playing that it wasn’t until 5 in the evening that I remembered that my soup was up for today–and I hadn’t made it yet! Off to the kitchen I flew. I checked my cupboards and my fridge and had everything I needed to make this soup except…split peas! Ack! So we made a pitstop at the grocery store and picked some up.
Whew! That was a close one! The moral of this story? While interactive video games are a great way to have fun and be fit with your family, if you are a food blogger who has instituted a Soup Week and you’ve not yet made the soup, you might want to show some restraint.
Split pea and ham soup! This is one of those things that can be sooooo comforting on a cold day. And it is a soup–no lie–that is practically impossible to mess up. I kid you not. It’s one of the first types of soup I learned to make post-op (pre-op I depended on a good friend to get my fix) and the recipe still works to this day. Here’s what you’ll need:
1 bag split peas, rinsed, drained and sorted (while food companies generally do a good job of getting debris out of their products, every now and again you can get a loose…something. So inspect it!)
1 onion, diced finely
1 lb. of ham, cut into small cubes
1 (15 oz.) container of either pork or vegetable broth (pork broth is hard to find–I make my own and freeze it–vegetable works just fine)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups of water
Optional: 3 scoops Any Whey Unflavored protein powder
So here’s how it goes down. In a sprayed pan, you want to get your onions and garlic “sweating.” Once they’ve got some good color to them, add that ham in. A word about the ham. It’s completely up to you whether to use pork or something leaner like turkey ham. I’m a bit of a purist so I use pork but I cut it from a ham steak. Why? Because the fat is more easily visible and you can trim it, whereas if you use a ham bone, you can’t extract the fat as easily. Excessive amounts of animal fat makes me queasy. Your mileage may vary.
So once the ham is browned up a bit, add the broth to the pan to help scrape up the bits stuck to the pan. That’s where all the flavor is! Once you’ve got the “good stuff”, transfer the party over to your crock pot. Add your peas, stir and turn your crockpot on (I use the high setting. Whatever setting usually yields finished food in about 5-6 hours on your crockpot…use that).
Now…walk away. Walk your dog. Chat with friends. Play Wii Just Dance 2 (yes, this would be the appropriate time to do that. Unlike my strategy…). I suggest putting this in the crockpot on the low setting in the morning before work. It will be done when you get home.
So let’s fast forward a bit. It’s now 6 hours later (doesn’t time fly when you’re hanging out with me??). Go back to your crockpot and this is what you should see.
Isn’t it lovely? Isn’t it wonderful? (Nik, Stevie Wonder just called. He said stop using his lyrics for your blog. That is all) I should note that I made a double batch so I would have some to freeze (so I used two bags of peas, 2 lbs. of cubed ham, and 4 cups of water, same amount of broth).
Now if you want to add the protein powder to your soup, this would be the time to do it. The particular brand I suggest is optimized for cooking (which means when it meets hot stuff it does NOT curdle) and whatever flavor it has is easily covered by practically anything. I add the powder to soups like this that are carb heavy just to balance it out. If you’re gun shy about adding it, you can also add protein to just your individual portion to try it out. I’d recommend a half scoop per 4 oz. serving to start out.
Let’s talk about serving while we’re on the subject. Cooking this deal in your crockpot will seriously soften your pork. I like some firm pieces of pork in my soup so I dice up a little of the extra ham steak, cook it and throw it on top to mix in. If you need your soup softer, omit this step. If you are on pureeds, I’d suggest taking an immersion blender to the whole thing just to be safe.
Remember, if you’re cooking with us, snap a pic of your soup, send it to us and you could win a super cool sample bag of protein goodies! Happy Soup Week!