Christmas Ham Leftovers Pt I – Split Pea Soup

26 12 2009
Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup - a bit on the thick side

Man this reusing food thing is actually happening and its pretty cool.  For Christmas Eve dinner we ‘made’ a Swedish Ham; which was just a Western Family Smoked Ham with a Swedish ‘glaze’.  Anyway, I took what was left of the ham and cut off all the meat I could get (which certainly is less than someone with any experience would have been able to do) and used the ham ‘carcass’ to make some homemade split pea soup with ham. YUMMY!

Anyway, I think this is the best split pea soup I’ve ever made.  Part of it has to be the fact that I used most of a whole ham and that I let it cook for about 6 hours without turning it into mortar right out.  It was a bit of a in-between-lots-of-things cooking adventure so there aren’t many pictures so instead I’ll include the recipe!  Anyway, the soup is fairly thick but still soupy when warm with a hint of smoke flavor from the smoked ham. The potatoes and carrots are done enough and just starting to fall apart but still holding shape while the ham eventually just fell off the bones. I also cut a bit more the leftover ham into chunks and threw it in for good measure.

EDIT – The taste is great for this soup but it is a little on the too thick side.  I think next time I would lean more towards the 3:1 ratio of water:split peas but for this batch its easy enough to resolve with a reheating with some more water.  So it ended up more like concentrate :)

One Full Pot Of Split Pea Soup

One Full Pot Of Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

  • 16 cups water
  • meaty ham bone – I used the bones with meat still attached from our Christmas ham
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cups dried green split peas
  • 3 russet potatoes – 1″ cubes
  • 4 carrots – sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste (I usually leave it very low salt and then when I am serving it let folks salt it to their own preference)

Note: This is only a guideline for the amounts of ingredients.  The most important thing is that there is enough water to cover the ham at least and then for each 4 cups of water you use put in 1 cup of dried split peas.  I used a 4:1 ratio because I like it thicker but if you like a thinner soup use a 3:1 ratio.

  1. Place meaty ham bone in middle of pan and cover with water.  Add bay leaves and split peas and bring to low boil.
  2. Let boil until the peas have started to dissolve into the water and the ham meat is starting to fall off the bone making sure to stir occasionally to prevent burning to the bottom.  I think this took about 3-4 hours.
  3. Throughout the cooking when the water drops about 1″ in the pan fill it back up to the original line with tap water.
  4. Add the potatoes and left cook for another 30 minutes or so and then add the carrots.
  5. Let cook for another 2 hours-ish or until you can’t wait any longer.
  6. 20 minutes before you want to eat it cube any extra leftover ham you have and put it into the pot.  This will assure you have a few bigger chunks of ham floating around if like that.
  7. Cool to “not burning your tongue temperature” and serve.

Note 1: The cooking times here are extreme approximations.  Once the peas are dissolved to your liking the soup can be done. So if you like to have some of the peas still around put all the ingredients in at the beginning  and just cook until the meat falls off the bones.

Note 2: I don’t think there is a wrong way or amount of time for making split pea soup that from my experience the longer the ham bones cook in the soup the better it will be and the longer the peas have to fall apart and create a creamy soup the better.

Note 3: The only other thing to consider is how you like your veggies in your split pea soup. If you like them chunky like me add them later in the cooking process and use firmer potatoes like russets but if you like them to cream into your soup more use softer potatoes and add them all earlier.

Note 4: The biggest culprit of split soup ruination is burning the soup. Since it is such a thick soup with nice potato and carrot chunks floating around it is very susceptible to burning to the bottom of the pan so make sure to keep the heat as low as you can to keep it boiling and stir often. I think I stirred mine every 30 minutes or so and it seemed to work out well.  The bigger the pot the less often you have to sir and it gets more important later in the cooking process when the peas are starting to break down.

Ham Bones san Meat after a 6 hr bath in soup

Ham Bones san Meat after a 6 hr bath in soup

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