Monday, February 15, 2010

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham

I love split pea soup. I grew up eating split pea soup that my mom made and it was delicious! She made hers in one of those Romertopf clay cookers. I had one for several years and used it often, but realized when we moved in here, we really didn't have room for something like that anymore. I had to adapt my recipe for preparation in the Crockpot.
A very important ingredient for this soup is a smoked ham shank or smoked ham hock. I stop at Widmer's and pick one up, the butcher will always saw it in half so that the marrow will release into the soup. The flavor from a smoked ham shank is delicious. Much better than a ham bone left from Easter.
Let's make Split Pea Soup. Start with a large Crockpot. Dump in one bag of dried green peas, add the smoked ham shank, a large chopped onion, chopped carrot and chopped celery. I always throw in a couple stalks of leafy topped celery stalks for the flavor. I had a bag of matchstick carrots in the fridge that needed to be used, so into the pot they went.
I also gave it a couple turns of fresh ground pepper. Don't add any salt at this time, the ham shank is pretty salty so hold off on that until serving. Add some chopped parsley, Widmer's only had curley and I prefer flat leaf, so I used dried parsley flakes.
Once all that is in the pot, add water. I used 2 quarts of water to fill my Crockpot.
Turn it on and let it cook on low overnight.
My method for this is to start it the night before you want to eat it. It will end up cooking on low for about 24 hours; seems like a long time, but it's not! You'll want to check it in the morning and add more water.
Tune in tomorrow for photos of the cooking process....

Split Pea with Smoked Ham Soup

1 smoked ham shank or ham hock
1 bag of dried green split peas
2-3 chopped carrots
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 stalk of leafy green celery
chopped parsley
fresh ground pepper
2 quarts water

Add it all to the crockpot and cook for 24 hours on low. Add more water as needed.
Here's the finished product, I ended up cooking this a little longer. After 24 hours, the soup wasn't thick and hadn't lost the bright green color. I prefer it cooked long enough to thicken up and turn a darker green, with a hint of brown in it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Delicious Minestrone Soup

My mom made this soup on Super Bowl Sunday and it was delicious! It looks like it is spendy to make, but very tasty!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ounce pancetta, chopped (5 to 6 thin slices)
1 1/2 cups chopped green cabbage
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts chicken broth
1/2 cup peeled, diced potato
1 piece parmesan cheese rind (3 inches square)
3/4 cup vermicelli or angel-hair pasta (broken into 2-inch pieces)
1/2 cup chopped plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1/4 cup cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed if using canned)
1/3 cup cooked kidney beans (drained and rinsed if canned)
1/3 cup pesto
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper or to taste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
To cook vegetables: In soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add pancetta. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until fat melts. (Note: Do not allow pancetta to brown.) Add cabbage, onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add broth, potatoes and parmesan cheese rind. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. (Note: Don't overcook them.)
To cook pasta: Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions until tender. Drain.
To assemble: When vegetables are tender, remove and discard parmesan rind. Add cooked vermicelli, tomatoes, chickpeas and kidney beans. Season to taste with pesto, salt and pepper.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese.