Kitchen Scraps: Split Pea Soup with Ham

Shortly after Thanksgiving while having dinner with my parents, I mentioned that I made turkey stock and soup with my leftover turkey carcass. Later that night after I returned home, my mom called to ask if I wanted them to save the ham bone from dinner for me to cook with. The next time I saw my dad it was for an arranged pet sitting swap. On a quiet side street just outside the Holland Tunnel, I gave him my dog Francine and he gave me a frozen ham bone.

Recently I spotted the ham bone in my freezer and tossed it into the refrigerator to thaw. I had yellow split peas on hand, so the following day that was the soup I was set on making. I looked at a few recipes, and considered what spices or other ingredients I might add for complexity, but ultimately I settled on a super simple, straightforward preparation that required just 3 ingredients and a few hours of simmering.

When Brad and I sat down to lunch with the split pea soup and some crusty bread, I had no regrets about my minimalist approach, it felt like I had made magic out of kitchen scraps. This split pea soup is incredibly delicious and satisfying. It will warm you up and fill your belly on a cold January day.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Ham

  • 1 meaty leftover ham bone
  • 1 lb. yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 3 onions, minced
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) water
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Rinse peas and combine in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot with water, ham bone and onions. Bring to a boil, skimming froth, then reduce heat and simmer until peas are tender but not falling apart, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper and continue to simmer, partially covered, until peas are falling apart and soup is thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours (my soup cooked for about 2.5 hours total). Remove ham bone or ham hock, shred meat and return meat to soup. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serving suggestion: Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and serve with crusty bread.

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