Split-Pea Soup Recipe
When I was a kid, my mother would often make split-pea soup using the bones and scraps leftover from a ham roast. It was a dish I could take or leave back then but I grew to like it more and more and have made it many times as an adult. Here, I have used the bone and some of the meat from a lightly smoked Pork Picnic Shoulder rather than the traditional Ham, and I have offset the smokiness with the sweetness of an added Parsnip.
Here, you can see the Picnic Shoulder (generally known as a ‘Boston Butt’ in the US). I have removed the bone already, leaving a fair bit of meat attached. The remainder of the shoulder and the two large chunks at the top of the picture are to be reserved for other uses. The bone and the smaller scraps will be used to make the broth for the soup. The meat attached to the bone, along with the other pieces would add up to just over a half-pound, or so.
Parsnip is disliked by some people and you can certainly substitute with Celery, if you prefer. A stalk or two will suffice, but you should chop it quite finely before adding to the stock.
To make the broth, cover the bone and meat with two quarts of water, add the Peppercorns and Celery Seed, and simmer for 4 to 6 hours. When finished, strain the broth and reserve.
Coarsely chop the Carrot, Onion and Parsnip. You can increase the Onion, if you like, but go easy with the Carrot and Parsnip.
Lightly fry the vegetables in the Butter until they are beginning to soften and release their aroma.
Next, add the stock and split-peas and let simmer until the peas are soft. This takes two or three hours. The ratio of liquid to peas is about 4 to one by volume but, unless you have soaked the peas first, you will need to add water (or more stock) from time to time. For this batch, I started with a quart or so of stock and added nearly the same volume of water during simmering.
Some people will serve the soup as is once cooked but I like it pureed until smooth. If you do this, you can adjust the thickness by either reducing a little further, or by adding a bit more stock. For a really smooth soup, you can pass it through a strainer and discard the fibrous solids. This will make the soup less of a hearty, rustic meal, and will reduce the volume a fair bit, but you do end up with a more refined dish. I did not do that here.
Your Recipe Card:
- 1 Meaty Ham or Pork Shoulder Bone
- 1 Tbsp. Peppercorns
- 1 tsp. Celery Seed
- 1 Cup Yellow Spilt-Peas
- 1 small Onion
- 1 small Carrot
- 1 small Parsnip
- 2 Tbsp. Butter
- Add the Bone and Meat to a pot, cover with two quarts of water, and add the Peppercorns and Celery Seeds.
- Simmer the pot for 4 to 6 hours, then strain off the broth and discard the solids.
- Coarsely chop the vegetables and fry them in the butter until just softened.
- Add the Broth and the Peas and simmer for three hours or so, adding sufficient water to keep a volume of about two quarts.
- Use a blender and purée the soup. Serve hot.