Saturday, January 03, 2009

Soup Just Like Mom Used to Make

My Mom used to make the best split pea soup. It was always thick, just salty enough, a lovley pea green color with bits of orange from carrots and pinkish bits of ham from the ham hock she used when she made it.

She probably still makes the best pea soup, but the bowl I ate for lunch today was almost as good. I used her recipe and let it cook down slowly to just the right thickness a few days ago, then it sat in the fridge to let the flavors mellow. Today I heated up a bowl in the microwave on low power, stirring every now and again, until it was hot and smelling wonderful. Some multi-grain toast made great croutons to go on top. Can't think of a better lunch for a cold January day.
Strange as it sounds, I used to like to eat soup for breakfast when I was growing up. Pea soup, bean and bacon soup, mushroom soup were all a welcome warming breakfast in the winter. I also like tuna fish sandwiches for breakfast, but that's another story. The only bad thing about these food for breakfast was they msot of them had pretty strong fragrances associated with them.

I didn't mind. My sense of smell has never been very acute (except when I was pregnant), but my Mom has a very sensitive nose. Things like pea soup or tuna early in the morning were not at all appealing to her because of the smell. That's why I didn't eat that way every morning...just when I could eat a little later than when she had to be in the kitchen.

I may have a bowl of this pea soup for breakfast tomorrow now that I think about it. It sure is cold enough to enjoy a hot bowlof soup in the morning. The frost was heavy this morning and it was about 28 degrees when I got up. Not too cold if you live where it's in the teens most of the winter, but 28 is cold enough for me.

Split Pea Soup

1 pound green or yellow dried split peas
2 quart boiling water
¼ lb leans salt pork or a ham hock
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, dices
1 teaspoon salt (or more if needed)
¼ teaspoon pepper

Sort the peas, making sure to remove any small stones or grit or shriveled peas. Rinse. Place in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the boiling water and salt pork. Set over medium high heat, cover and let bubble gently 1 ½ hours. Stir occasionally.

Add onion, carrot, celery, salt and pepper. Stir. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover and remove the salt pork or ham hock. If desired, cut the salt pork or any ham that can be removed from the bone into very small pieces. Return them to the pot. Stir to combine.

Taste for seasonings. Simmer uncovered until the desired thickness is reached, stirring often to keep from sticking on the bottom of the pot.

Serve hot. Croutons make a nice garnish. Serves 4 – 6.


  1. ;) I made pea soup last week. It is wonderful with 28°! I'm going to have to wait a while for that though because it was 80 here yesterday.
    Soup for breakfast: hooray!

  2. Elle,

    I now have the recipe I'm using for the split pea soup that will be using part of that huge country ham I got at Thanksgiving from Wren's family!

    Thanks and can't wait to try this.

  3. This is the soup I WISH my mom used to make! I am definitely going to give this a try.


  4. There must be something about Mum's and pea soup. My Mum's soup is brilliant. She makes it with bacon bones, which adds a lovely smoky flavour. I have never tried it for breakfast though. Maybe next winter I will give it a go.

  5. Anonymous7:25 PM

    What a coincidence! I made some split pea soup on New Years Day and had some of the leftovers for dinner tonight. I cheated and used some pieces of leftover ham instead of a hambone, so it wasn't as flavorful as it could have been, but still good. And I completely forgot about the croutons! What was I thinking? The crunch of the croutons against the thick, soft soup is part of the joy of split pea soup!

  6. It appears that your mom and mine make about the exact same soup. I love it. I hate ordering pea soup because no one seems to get it right.
    Yours looks nice and thick the way I love it.

  7. Tanna,Hope it gets cold enough again for pea soup...any time of day.

    Breadchick, That country ham will make a fabulous pea soup!

    Amy, You can start your own pea soup tradition.

    KJ, I wonder if bacon bones are simmilar to these ham hocks. The bones are smoked and the butcher cut them across. It would be fun if you made YOUR Mum's soup and posted it...maybe when it is colder.

    Next sister down, Yeah the texture constrast with the croutons is part of the charm. Bet your soup was wonderful!

    Peabody, Restaurants really don't usually take the time to simmer it down to proper thickness...but we can :)