When Thanksgiving weekend is over and most of the leftovers are gone, there are usually two things left in my refrigerator...a turkey carcass and a ham bone. I used to always make turkey soup and throw away the ham bone. But the last few years I've tossed the turkey, hung onto to ham bone and made split pea soup.
Most ham bones have enough meat left on them to make a great split pea soup. The salty smoky flavor of ham blends perfectly with split peas and is a nice change from the turkey flavors. The beauty of split pea soup is that it's easy and healthy. There are some basic ingredients, but like most soups, you don't have to do much measuring. Just throw in the amount you I think sounds good.
SPLIT PEA SOUP
2 Tbsp olive oil 2 onions, chopped 3 celery stalks, chopped 3 carrots, peeled and sliced 2 large potatoes, cut bite-size 1 ham bone with meat attached 3 bay leaves 3 cups water 1 lb split peas (green, or yellow and green mixed) 1 tsp. dried thyme
In a very large pot saute onions carrots, and celery in olive oil until vegetables begin to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add ham bone, bay leaves and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low for 2 hours, or until ham is tender. Remove ham bone and any chunks of ham and cool.
While ham and bone are cooling add split peas and thyme to the pot and cover. Simmer 1/2 hour. Add potatoes and simmer another 1/2 hour, or until peas soften and dissolve. Cut up cooled ham and add it to the pot and cook 15 more minutes. Remove bay leaves. If soup is too thick add more water. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
This soup warms you from the inside-out on these cold December nights. It's hearty and robust. Serve it with a loaf of crusty french bread and a bottle of sauvignon blanc or gewurztraminer.