Saturday, December 17, 2011

Perfect Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock

I cannot describe what split pea soup does for my soul. Everyone has "that soup" that brings them back, in such a good way- like Christmas morning for your tongue. So festive, so warm, so anticipated. Why had I never made it from scratch?

Probably fear. Fear that mine would not live up to the expectation placed on it. It's just one of those things I always ordered out, requested when home visiting- that kind of a thing.

It was time to face music. Conquer the giant. Lasso the... you get the point. I needed to make the best damn split pea soup this Ritter household had ever seen. Well that's the other part... Chris "hates" split pea. Could I really change that? Or is this just who I married?! Soup preference was not discussed in our premarital counseling!

After much research and inquiry over WHICH spices were the best to use with this ultimate recipe, I settled on 's version. The oregano was intriguing. Also, she used the real deal: ham hock. With no disrespect to Jenna, I beefed hammed it up a bit by adding stock instead of water, and then used less hocks.

I also (as usual) doubled the batch. There was no way I was gonna skip out an opportunity for left overs.

1 large yellow onions, diced

2 large carrots peeled and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 tsp oregano

1 bay leafs

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste depending on your stock)

1 16-oz bag green split peas

1 or 2 ham hocks (they usually come in packs of two), but one is fine- easy to freeze the other.

8 cups stock (you can use some water and some stock if you want)

Chefs: look at those ingredients. SO easy. And it gets better- ready?

Place all ingredients in pot. I'm not gonna lie, look at this photo. Does someone want to paint it for my kitchen? Beautiful. I love the different greens from the peas, the bay leaf and the celery. Anyway, I digress... I know we need to talk about it: the hock.

Take a closer look.

It's a little freaky. When the guy at the meat counter handed them to me, I nearly dropped it. The pig skin (I spared you from the side view) weird-ed me out. It was so fresh. But, I tossed it into the bowl knowing that flavor-town didn't just come from peas... this hock was why split pea spoke sweet nothings to my palate, and I knew it.

Next add your stock.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for two hours, covered.

After two hours, remove the hocks. They won't be pretty.

They will have cooked down a bit. Remove the meat from them. There won't be a lot, but each piece is precious. Put meal back in pot and discard the hock (finally to be done with these things!)

Bring soup back to a boil uncovered and cook for 30-45 min until desired thickness. Stir often. And it should be thick. Like morning fog in Pacific Grove, CA.

Taste as you go, you don't want it too salty, but the perfect amount of salt will bring out all the flavors. Wait till the desired reduction for a final judgement.

And the verdict: I could not have been happier. I don't tend to brag about recipes unless they are PERFECT. This was PERFECT. I'm so glad I used stock. The oregano was a perfect match for the peas. Aaaaaand....

Chris had seconds! It was one of my proudest moments in our marriage yet. Not only did I live up to my own expectations, but I redeemed Split Pea for my husband. I promised not to make this weekly, as I don't want to abuse his approval, but I was one happy camper cooker!


  1. It sounds wonderful, but I don't think I'm ready to risk our marriage...something about you can't teach an old dog, and he actively dislikes most soups, especially split pea!

  2. Yes indeed, it was quite the amazing soup. If you are not a fan of split pea and this soup doesn't convert you... then nothing will and you can just move on with life. But you owe it to yourself to make this and try it... or have someone do it for you :-)

    Love you honey!

  3. well this sounds just fantastic, yum!
    come enter my jewelry giveaway!

  4. My picky eater likes Pea Soup for some reason. :) I made a double batch of this and our 2 kids were only allotted 3 containers each to take to their homes. (hmpf!) Got a text the other day from my son that said the Pea Soup was really good, if I'd like to make it again. In the pot today so they can have some to take home after being home this week. :)

  5. Made this tonight for me and the kiddos. It was a big hit! This will be my go to split pea soup recipe, it was very good!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Heather! It's my favorite too.

  6. Also, in case you wanted to know, I did a nutrition work up on this for serving 6 people, using 6c stock & 2c water and a bag of frozen Mirepoix (Kroger) which is the carrots, celery & onions (equals about 3c), and the meat from 2 ham hocks. Its 169 calories, 2g fat 32g carbs 15g protein and 2% Iron (which is hard to come by for me). And I wanted to point out that the carbs are good eat up!

    1. Thanks! So nice of you to do the breakdown! Here's to our health and cooking :)

  7. I am making this tonight. I have never cooked with Ham Hocks before.