Split Pea Soup

At the moment, six inches of snow cover the ground and the wind has wiped out our phone line.  While I wait for the return of phone service and for my husband to return from shoveling the driveway and unearthing our cars, what could better occupy my time than making a comforting batch of split pea soup?  The smoked ham hocks add a fragrant richness to the creamy texture of the soup. Don’t omit the croutons.

For the soup:

2 cups green split peas

1 ½ quarts water

2 large smoked ham hocks

1 Turkish bay leaf

1 cup chopped onion

2 carrots, diced

1 ½ cups chopped celery, with leaves

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For croutons:

3 cups of 3/4 –inch bread cubes cut from a substantial loaf of quality bread, such as ciabatta, crusts  removed

2 t butter

Procedure:

Sort and pick over the split peas and rinse thoroughly.  Place split peas and the water into a large soup kettle and bring  to a boil.  Add the ham hocks and bay leaf and simmer, partially covered for one hour.

Add the onion, carrots and celery to the soup and simmer for another hour.  Remove the ham hocks and bay leaf. Puree soup with a stick blender or force through the medium disk of a food mill.  Remove skin and fat from ham hocks and cut into small pieces.  Reheat soup, add chicken stock, cream, ham pieces and season with salt and pepper.  Adjust texture to that of a slightly thickened cream.

Melt butter in a sauté pan to medium heat.  Sauté bread cubes shaking pan from time to time until lightly browned and crisp.  Set aside.  Serve with hot soup.  Enjoy! Makes 6 servings.

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