Habitant Pea Soup

I grew up eating my mother's split pea soup, so thick your spoon really could stand up in the pot, and filled with chunks of carrots. Because we were a kosher home, my mother used a turkey carcass to flavor the soup, instead of a ham bone. Sometimes she also added flanken and beef bones.  I loved that soup. In fact, that was usually what I requested for my first meal home during college vacations.

After making many different pea soups and making my mother's recipe from time to time, I realized that the turkey flavor could be overwhelming, and not quite smokey enough. Paul finally revealed that despite my love for my mother's soup, he just didn't like split pea soup at all. Eventually, I just stopped making it.

For the last few years, though, this kosher bred girl has purchased a local Virginia country ham for an extended family buffet the day after Thanksgiving. Paul really likes ham about once a year.  I freeze the leftovers in separate containers to be used later for another dinner or for a breakfast of ham and eggs. In one big bag, I save the hambone along with the smallest of the scraps to use in a soup on a cold winter day.  This year, I didn't host the buffet, but tried one of Trader Joe's little half uncured hams one day in December once the other meat eater arrived home.  The bone wasn't large, but it was enough to save for soup later on in the winter.

That bone didn't have long to wait.  This week's arctic vortex cold was the perfect impetus for pea soup. Plus, veggie girl is off gallivanting about in Israel right now, so I didn't have to come up with a side by side vegetarian version.  I made a riff on Quebec style Habitant Pea Soup which calls for yellow split peas and is a little thinner in consistency than the one I grew up with. Who knows if it's the ham over the turkey or the change in peas, but if Paul likes it too, it's all good.

On another subject entirely, after a wait of an extra couple of weeks due to a technical glitch over the holidays, I finally found out last week that my trout pate won the contest at food52!  Many thanks to all who voted!  I have to admit that although this is relatively small potatoes, I was pretty thrilled and tickled to finally win one of the contests!

Habitant Style Pea Soup

(adapted from Cooking Light magazine)

serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 medium sized carrots, diced
2 cups yellow split peas
4 cups homemade or no or low sodium added stock, can be beef or vegetable
4 cups water
1 large bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 leftover ham bone
4 -  6 ounces leftover ham, diced
salt and pepper to taste
creme fraiche for garnish

1.  Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat and then add olive oil.  Add the onion, celery and carrot.  Add a pinch or two of salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook the vegetables until the onion begins to get translucent, about 5 - 10 minutes.

2.  Add the split peas, stock, water, bay leaf, thyme and ham bone to the pot.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.  If there's a lot of foam on top skim a little off from time to time.

3.  Let the soup cook for about 1.5 to 2 hours, until the peas soften.  Turn off the heat and use an immersion blender to puree about 1/3 of the soup.  Stir well.

4.  Add in the diced ham and return soup to a simmer.  After about 10 minutes, taste for salt and, if needed add more and add some pepper.

5.  Add a small dollop of creme fraiche in the middle of each bowl as you serve.