Why Spilt Hairs When We Could Split Peas Instead?

For anyone who really knows me, this post does not come out any craving whatsoever. Let it be known that I do not care for peas. In fact, I quite hate them. As a child, I would practically throw fits whenever they were served for dinner, and I would go out of my way to avoid eating them almost to any cost. While I know that the main reason is because of the pea’s squishy, disgusting texture, I also may have actually had an allergy to the little buggers since they are part of the legume family that peanuts come from. Since I carry no bitterness towards peanuts but am highly allergic to all forms of them, it’s quite possible that my distaste for the green spherical vegetable was more than just preference.

In any case, as I’ve grown older (ahem, and wiser, I hope?), I can at least tolerate them…For instance, they appear in my chicken pot pie without the accompanying fits, and I’ve been known to toss a couple on top of my lettuce as I peruse a salad bar. But even though my age has matured me, I still have a line, and that line is split pea soup.

Enter my loving husband, who just happens to enjoy a hearty bowl of the split vegetables, but you’d never know it, since as long as we’ve been married, I’ve never cooked him one. (He has a few grievances in the food department, and would like to see more shepherd’s pie turn up on the dinner table every now and again. Sadly, that happens to be another of my no-no meals: I have a thing with ANYthing in my mashed potatoes…)

So HOW did we end up together again?!

No, no, no, this is not about food-related marital counseling and the need for it. Perhaps another day and another post. Let’s just say that I know it wouldn’t hurt me if I put on my big girl panties and cooked something I didn’t care for. Like…today. We just got caught up on all the laundry in the house, and lookie, lookie! My big girl panties are clean! What shall I do with the power?

All joking aside, a few days ago, I received an email with a recipe of the day and lo, and behold, the recipe was for “the best split pea soup.” For some reason I didn’t immediately delete it, but actually read through it. It certainly sounded easy enough… I recalled the several times Todd has mentioned how good split pea soup is, and the memory alone didn’t make me gag. I started to actually consider it. THEN when Hannah told me she had to have dried peas for a science experiment, I knew it was a sign. It was time to make some split pea soup. Sometimes, a cook has to reach a milestone year to realize that it’s worth trying even the recipes you have no intent to eat.

The list of ingredients is quite simple: peas, carrots, onions, celery, broth, ham hocks. Um…ham hocks? What part of a pig exactly is a hock?

That tripped me up. I arrogantly thought I could run to the meat department at my trusty store and head to the pork section and just find the “hock” area? Not so simple. I texted my mother-in-law, who gave me great advice, but I had already painted myself into a corner in terms of time and had to run out in order to pick up Hannah on time. My ham hocks would have to wait for another day.

The next afternoon, she came to the rescue in the form of a text, not only to give me the hock’s alias–the ham shank–but also that she’d spied some while grocery shopping herself. Yay! I picked one up, tried not to think about the fact that a ham hock is actually the ankle of a pig, and just paid for it and shoved it in a grocery bag. Never mind that the four youngest kids who were with me followed me out of the store asking, “Why do you need pig ankles, Mom?!?!” Yeah, that.

Finally, today was the day I could make the split pea soup. I hoped it turned out. I hoped he liked it! I hoped I could handle the extreme mushiness.

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I will say this is an incredibly fast and simple recipe to prepare: it literally took five minutes to chop and assemble the ingredients.

Before long, my crock pot was filled with all the necessary parts to create the masterpiece.

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After that, it was just a matter of waiting. 8ish hours of waiting. At first, the soup smelled delicious, but as it cooked, it took on a definite pea smell. No matter, I thought. It wasn’t for me. I stirred it and continuted to wait.

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When the time had come to complete the last step, the peas definitely looked ready. My stick blender had no problem whisking them and the other ingredients into a silky smooth soup. I wondered if it tasted good, but I just could not bring myself to try it. Besides, I reasoned with myself, how would I even know what good split pea soup tasted like for comparison? Better not mess with it at all. Thankfully, Todd came in and offered to taste test. It did need some extra seasoning, but after that, he gave it a thumbs up.

We have a rule in our house that you can eat what is served for dinner or you can not eat, but being the cook and meal planner offers some distinct advantages, I will say. In other words, I made something else for the rest of us to eat for dinner! But here’s what the finished product looked like:

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Todd was pleased and thankful and complimentary, though he didn’t do somersaults or anything like that. I mean, what was I expecting? It is split pea soup! How excited can any one person get?!

Here’s the recipe I used, taken from Taste of Home

The Best Split Pea Soup

1 can (49-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1-1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
2 cups each chopped onions, celery and carrots
1 package (16 ounces) dried green split peas
2 bay leaves
Salad croutons, optional

In a 4- or 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the broth, ham hocks, vegetables, peas and bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until ham hocks and peas are tender.

Discard bay leaves. Remove meat from bones when cool enough to handle; cut ham into small pieces and set aside. Cool soup slightly.

In a blender, cover and process soup in batches until smooth. Return soup to slow cooker; stir in reserved ham. Heat through. Garnish with croutons if desired. Yield: 7 servings (about 2 quarts).

And Mom, before you call me, frantic and certain that I’m having some sort of reaction to a strange medication, it’s OK. I’m not. I’m of sound mind and body. I promise! 🙂

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Dorothy Ortiz
    Nov 16, 2013 @ 21:26:58

    It may be important to note that Shepherd’s Pie also contains peas. Also, if you can’t find ham hocks, you can use salt pork (and a little bacon if you so desire). I can only eat cured pork these days, so salt pork is my friend.

    I am curious, how do you handle bean soup? I can’t imagine a life without split pea AND bean soup, especially accompanied by a fresh pan of skillet corn bread.

    Reply

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