while this recipe is coming at the tail end of winter, and will therefore be shelved in the near future, it is a big, big winner. split pea soup is my favorite soup (potato leek is not far behind), and there are many places out there that make it just the way i like it, which encouraged me to try my hand at it. for example, our favorite italian restaurant in our hood makes the best vodka sauce ever. ever. ever. i would never think i could recreate it. but you try enough good bowls of split pea soup here and there and you realize - hey, i can do this too! and so i did.
this is another slow cooker recipe (no gas yet, womp womp), and it makes a very thick soup - if that's not your jam, head the other way. if it is your jam, grab some crusty bread and enjoy. below are a few stars of the show...
...and in addition you'll need chicken or vegetable stock, garlic, fresh or dried thyme (i used dried), and bay leaves. the recipe also called for a bell pepper but i eliminated it - i don't love bell peppers, occasionally on my pizza or with my italian sausages it's cool, but i didn't really see the need for it (and the soup turned out just beautiful). so, before we go on, let's talk about ham hocks, also known as a pork knuckle. they are typically sold smoked and are often used in southern cooking - soups, collard greeds, beans, and so forth. my butcher counter regularly sells ham hocks, but if yours doesn't just ask your butcher if he or she can get one for you. i always feel that butchers or fishmongers are underused at grocery stores - they can, and are happy to, do a lot of things for you (mince, grind a certain blend of meat, de-bone, and so on). if they say no, see if they can give you a recommendation on what store might have them, but these are pretty ubiquitous because of their many uses, especially in the winter months. and if you're a reader from the southern united states i'm sure you're rolling your eyes at this captain obvious statement. onwards!
just a gratuitous picture of the amazing white roses i picked up last week (from my local deli, mind you) that brightened up the whole apartment. way to go local deli. now, for real, onwards!
since we are limited with our cooking, i am focusing on recipes that don't require any browning of meat or pre-cooking of some sort. this recipe called for pre-heating the stock up to a boil but i skipped it - again, didn't make a difference. to save yourself another step, you could also pick up pre-made mirepoix at the market. trader joe's sells it year round and it is the best timesaver - had i not had carrots and an onion i needed to use that's what i would have done. so, into your slow cooker go all the ingreidnets - cook on high for six hours and BOOM, done (well, almost). the slow cooker recipes that just require you to put everything in one pot, no work beforehand, and turn it on are the best for busy weekdays. when it's done cooking, or when you get home from work, take the ham hock out and cut off what you can and dice it. this can take about ten minutes and you have to cut here, there, and everywhere - there are some bones and fat that you don't want to put back in the soup, but it's mostly delicious (and smoky) ham.
then? enjoy. it makes a lot, so it's great for a family, big get together, or leftovers to last throughout the week. i absolutely love split pea soup and i am personally very pumped about this recipe - it will be in heavy rotation next winter. bookmark this one for sure, or use it for some of the blustery spring nights ahead!