Thursday, February 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup


I found it quite interesting when I discover that split pea soup has been around since ancient times, dating back to around 500 BC., where vendors in the streets of Athens sold it as "hot pea soup".  My question is, who brought it to Hawaii?, because that's where I learned to eat it.

Split pea soup seems to have vanished from the landscape of the home kitchen, as well as, restaurant menus.  Could it be because of its lack luster appearance? Will this deliciously comforting soup become extinct due to its murky green swamp like look, or is it simply the oink factor?  Questions, questions?

Split pea soup screams comfort to me and it has mingled at the top of my list for as long as I can remember. Simply because it just taste so dang good!

My split pea soup has a more rustic appearance because I chose not to blend it.  If you prefer a visually greener soup with a creamier finish, blend the soup in batches in your food processor or use a hand held immersion blender to smooth out the soup.

Back in the day… ham hocks used to have meat on them, but they don’t anymore.  So pass on the hocks, and search for the shanks.  Be picky and look for the meaty ones, and for an additional meat lovers touch, dice up a ham steak to add a little more meatyness to each bowl.
There are a couple of side steps that I take when using my slow cooker to build optimum flavor.  Roast or brown any meat that you add.
And always saute your aromatic veggies like onions, celery and garlic before adding it.  
Trust me, 
both of these simple steps will make all the difference when using your slow cooker.

I grate my carrots so they will break down easier and add to the body of the soup at the same time, but a small dice would be fine also.   

You could have this soup cooked up in an hour to an hour and a half on the stove top, but you will have to watch and stir it.  The slow cooker will take 4 - 10 hours, but once everything is in the pot, it needs no more attention.

SLOW COOKER SPLIT PEA SOUP
1              pound                   dried split peas
1 ½         pounds                   ham shanks
1              large                      carrot, grated or diced small
1              med                       onion, diced small (about 1 ½ cups)
2              stalks                     celery-leafy tops too, diced small
2              cloves                    garlic, minced
1              whole                     bay leaf
1              tsp.                        kosher salt
1              tsp.                        black pepper
1              14.5oz                   chicken broth
6              cups                       water

Layer ingredients in slow cooker from the bottom up, in this order;
1.       Dried split peas
2.       Ham shanks
3.       Grated carrots
4.       Sautéed onions, celery and garlic
5.       Bay leaf, salt and pepper
6.       Chicken broth and water

Do not stir ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off bone. Remove ham shank with bones and bay leaf from pot.  Toss out the bay leaf, bones and skin. Shred or roughly chop meat and add it back to the soup.  

If you prefer a visually greener soup with a creamier finish, blend the soup in batches in your food processor or use a hand held immersion blender to smooth out the soup.

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