If your days are as crazy-busy as mine are, you will appreciate a hearty, healthy hot bowl of soup for a quick dinner. Split Pea and Ham soup is an old-time favorite. Thick and nutritious with lots of ham chunks and vegetables, this comfort food will warm your tummy, heart and soul.
Split pea and ham soup is one of those good ole comfort soups that are extra special in the cold winter months. It is big on flavor and easy on the budget. We like it with a lot of smoky ham chunks for extra flavor.
Recently, Don and I took a trip to Bend, Oregon and enjoyed the beautiful snowy weather for a few relaxing days. It was a nice break just before the hectic holiday season began.
One afternoon we stopped for a late lunch at a quaint little downtown restaurant. Their soup special of the day was split pea and ham soup which sounded perfect. While sitting at a white-linen covered table, next to a roaring fireplace, we enjoyed a bowl of this old comforting soup. It was a nice relaxing lunch and as we watched the snow falling on the lake, I thought out loud….’this is so good, why has it been so long since I made split pea and ham soup?
That was my inspiration for this posting of split pea and ham soup. It is an easy soup recipe that is so rewarding in flavor and nutrition. The dried green peas can also be soaked overnight for a faster cook-off, but honestly? It doesn’t take much time at all to soft-cook them in a nourishing, hearty pot of soup. I have never soaked my split peas.
Fennel vs. Potatoes:
We have substituted diced fennel for potatoes in this recipe. The fennel reduces the carbohydrate count and adds great flavor. In addition, it is a much healthier vegetable. Fennel is a non-starchy vegetable and it is delicious in this soup. Fennel has a unique licorice taste when it is raw It adds a subtle earthiness when added to this soup and compliments the vegetables.
The stems of the fennel plant have a much stronger flavor than the bulb. I simply discard them as I have not yet discovered a use for them. The feathery fronds of the plant are beautiful as a garnish though. I have also included them in floral centerpieces which adds a lovely effect. If you are not familiar with using fennel, these ideas will get you on the taste adventure trail.
- Roasted fennel
- Shaved fennel in citrus salads
- Thinly slice fennel and onions on pizza
- Fennel and apples with pork or chicken
I have included a goodly amount of smoked ham in this pot of soup as well as some flavorful bacon to sauté the aromatic vegetables with and crumble as a garnish. This is truly a good, old-fashioned comfort food that is perfect for our cold winter weather. Make up a pot and enjoy!
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- 4 slices of bacon, diced
- 1 cup chopped yellow onions
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, core removed and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pound dried split peas, rinsed under cool water and drained
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ham, diced
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaf
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together
- In a large pot set over medium-high heat, add the diced bacon and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel lined plate and reserve.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes then add the celery, carrots and fennel. Cook, stirring, until just soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the drained peas and the diced ham. Pour in the chicken broth and add the salt, pepper, bay leaves and thyme bundle. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour.
- Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme bundle. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve immediately with the reserved crisp bacon bits on top.
Serving Size:1-1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 318Total Fat: 6.5gSaturated Fat: 1.9gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 1775mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 13gSugar: 5.5gProtein: 31g