Recipe First. In a large crock pot mix:
2 lbs dried split peas
1 large onion chopped
3 large carrots (or one bag of baby carrots) peaked and choppedb
4-5 bay leaves (make sure to count so you can remove later)
10 cups liquid (6 water, 4 broth – I used chicken better than bullion)
Salt and spice. Roasted garlic powder, curry powder, cayenne pepper, red curry paste (1 tsp). Add mostly a couple of shakes of spice at this point. It cooks a long time and it is ok to add spice/salt in the middle to your own taste. If you don’t like these spices don’t add them. See note later on salt.
Mix it all up in crock pot. Set to low.
1 ham steak (usually about 10-12″ diameter 1/2″ thick) cut into quarters. Add to soup
With crock at low, cook for 6-8 hours (until peas break down), stirring occasionally to ensure bottom doesn’t burn.
Check salt and spice level mid cook and salt to taste at end. Remove bay leaves.
Remove ham. Cut into bites size chucks (remove fat and rind).
Serve with sprinkle of shredded cheese or small dollop of sour cream.
Now the text part filled with anecdotes and personal connections that everyone hates or skips in recipe books. 🤮🍵. But if you read through to the end there are a number of helpful hints and suggestions.
Split pea soup is nostalgia in a bowl. Love it or hate it, it likely reminds you of home or your grandma or somebody who used to cook it. My Grandma used to make a big kettle of it with a bi old ham bone in it. I love split pea soup and have made it several times in the past. Those times previous were in a large soup kettle and on a stove top. One time it was awesome. The next time the ham trapped peas on the bottom causing them to burn. The burnt peas then added a not great smoked flavor to the soup. As a single man, I still ate it – what was I going to do throw away 4 gallons of soup???! But lesson learned. In addition, taking with Sara about the idea of pea soup with its big fatty hambone made her gag a bit. So I looked for alternative approaches. I went to the crock pot for better temperature control and less likelihood of burning. It also meant I could be a lazy cook, stirring every once in a while. I used ham steak because it had less bone (less volume) and less fat, but still had good flavor to add. It also wouldn’t interfere with stirring and mixing from the bottom up (what led to previous burnt soups). In the end, I’ve made this several time. Each time was good. They progressively got easier. Below are some tips.
#1 – don’t over salt. Chicken broth and ham are already salty. Don’t add salt at the start. Wait till about half way through the cook, then add salt to taste. Taste again at the end. Add some more as needed. Use less salt than you think you need. It is hard to unsalt soup.
#2 – it is ok to add more water or broth. Think as pea soup is an actual thing. My first back when it cooled could stand up a spoon. Add a cup of hot water (or more) to thin out the whole batch. Or a couple of tablespoons to a cold bowl upon reheating.
#3 – add spices you like. I love spice (#penzey). I add dashes of various spices to liven up the taste. Never enough to overwhelm it. Just a sprinkle or a dash or two. Think shakes not spoons. Also, if you don’t like a spice don’t add it. Hate spicy, don’t add spicy shit. Love spicy add some siracha when serving.
#4 – the peas don’t break down till the very end, don’t panic. Don’t go to the stock blender too early. Let time and temperature do their work. You can always blend it more at the end. Nobody wants hard bits of peas. Just let it cook.
#5 – do the first batch on a weekend where you are home. It isn’t a set and forget soup. It needs some stirring. Just a bit. But enough that the first time out you shouldn’t start it at 8, leave for work and expect miracles at 530 (#mississippipotroast, #kaluapork).
#6 – for added texture add frozen peas near the end of cooking. Just enough time for the peas to warm up not turn to mush. You can also add additional chopped carrots near the end for a bit of more bite. Again don’t add them too early or they don’t add anything new to the party.
#7 – don’t fret if you mess it up. This is a cheap soup to make and it makes a lot. If it tastes bad toss it and order a pizza. Nobody wants two gallons of terrible soup (unless you live near a large number of young single people with questionable taste palates and a willingness to eat anything as long as it is free). If you fuck up, don’t worry. This soup is pretty forgiving. It can take some spice. So if it isn’t to your liking at first hit it with hot sauce or garlic or curry. If that doesn’t work toss it.