Guest Post: Split Pea Soup with Cheesy Croutons

About the Author:
Virginia-based food writer, Tim Vidra, authors the blog E.A.T. where he advocates the principles behind supporting a sustainable food system. Tim’s mission is in sharing his passion for the preparation and enjoyment of food in a way that everyone from beginners to long-time foodies can get involved in. His ties to food are deep rooted — he fondly recalls his Hungarian grandmother citing “If you don’t kill it, pluck it or grow it, I’m not eating it” as he spent hours with her in their backyard garden. Now living in the city, Tim tries to maintain these basic principles as he tackles building his own lush urban garden. His recipes and advice have been featured across food publications and he’s led series’ of cooking demos and classes throughout the Richmond area. Learn more about Tim via E.A.T. and follow him on Twitter @TimVidraEats.

Split Pea SoupEvery year at Christmas I cut the end off of the Christmas ham. Known as the ham hock, it is generally a fatty piece that does contain a strip of meat — perfect for slow cooking in soups. With the recent extreme cold and snow it’s the perfect time to pull this hock out of the freezer and make some split pea soup. So, let’s get cooking!

Ingredients: (makes 4-6 servings)

  • 1 pound of dry green split peas
  • 1 ham hock or piece of smoked meat
  • 2T butter
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1t cayenne pepper
  • 8 cups of water

Croutons:

  • ½ of a fresh french loaf (cut in half and then cut in half again, long ways)
  • ½ stick of butter, softened
  • Sprinkling of dried herbs (parsley and oregano)
  • ¼ cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Add dry beans to a pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Soak the beans overnight.Split Pea Soup Ingredients

After soaking, discard the water and rinse the beans. Add butter to a soup pot and saute the onions, carrot, and celery until soft, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cayenne, cooking for 2-3 minutes, stirring to incorporate. Add water, hock, bay leaves and the rinsed beans, bringing to a boil.

Adding the Ham HockReduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 3 hours. While the soup is cooking make the croutons by slathering the bread slices with the butter, herbs and parmesan. Broil until browned and crispy. Once cool, cut into rough shaped bites — and now we have croutons!CroutonsWhen the beans are soft and done, remove the hock. Cut it in half to pull the meat out and discard any fat or bone. Shred meat and set aside. Use an immersion blender to blend soup right in the pot until it reaches a thick consistency.

Immersion BlenderAdd half of the shredded meat back to the blended soup and heat. Ladle soup into individual bowls.

Ladling the SoupAdd a crouton or two and sprinkle with shredded ham to garnish. Pass bowls with hot sauce and fresh ground pepper to serve.

Dressing the CroutonsThis soup will warm you and your guests as a starter or as dinner with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Split Pea and Country Ham Soup

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