There are several recipes for pea soup on instructables but none of them are for the soup my mom made. So this instructable is about "How to make Split Pea soup the way my mom taught me to make it". Why? Because its the best soup I have ever come across. Of course I may be a little biased.
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Step 1: Cook Down the Ham
All the other recipes I have seen say to add the ham (Ham bone or other parts) with the peas and cook it all together. I was taught to cook the ham first. After roasting a ham I save the bone and other parts just for making this soup. Take everything from the roasting pan including any outer rind. The skin has a lot of flavor in it and after it has boiled a while that flavor becomes part of the soup stock. So put it all in a large pot with water and boil it until the ham falls apart. I don't usually use any salt because the ham has a lot of salt already in it. After it has boiled for a few hours I clean all the bone and fat that is left and any thing else that is not meat. Use a slotted spoon to get all the meat out of the broth. Clean it all up and then put it back in the pot and add more water and turn the heat back on.
Step 2: Add the Peas
I use dried split green peas. Usually it takes 2 packages to make a full pot of soup.
Rinse the peas and if you see any bad ones pick them out. Add the peas to the pot with the ham and heat it all until it comes to a low boil.
If you add to many peas its not a problem because you can add more water to thin it out a little. On the other hand if you don't put in enough and have to add more it will overcook the peas you put in first. If you cook peas for too long the soup turns a brown color more than a green color. So try to avoid adding any after they have been cooking for a while.
Step 3: Cook It for a While
Get your soup up to a low boil and leave it cook for about an hour. Stir it every now and then to keep it from sticking to the bottom. The peas will start to get soft and mushy. You can taste it to see if it is salty enough but I have found that I rarely need to add anything else.
Step 4: Add Carrots
My mom told me the reason to add carrots is to make it a little sweeter and to make it colorful. Kids don't like a solid green paste looking stuff so when you add orange carrots its makes it interesting. So before the peas are all cooked down, add some carrots. How many is up to you. I added a little more than half of a 2 lb bag. Then its back to cooking and stirring.
Step 5: Finish
You know when its done when there are no peas left. They will have all dissolved and turned into a thick green soup with carrots and ham floating in it. It usually takes at least 2 hours for the peas to cook all the way.
I add some saltines to my bowl of soup but its good with out them also. One of the amazing things about this soup is that you don't get hungry again for a long time after having a bowl full. Maybe its because of all the fiber in it, I don't know but it has real body to it and really fills you up. It is still my kids favorite.
This keeps in the refrigerator for a long time but it does get really thick when its cold. Add water to it and microwave it to bring it back fresh as the day you made it. It also freezes well too. I put it in a rectangle container and when you want some just thaw it enough so you can get a knife in it and cut off a slice.
Its good food for the winter.
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