We were walloped with snow on Friday, and the perfect companion to a snowy day is a warming bowl of hearty soup. This recipe is an old favourite of mine, and it’s a ‘Go-To’ staple for us when the weather turns cold! The recipe doubles and freezes really well so make a big batch and you’ll be warmed all winter long.
This soup requires one high-quality ingredient - a smoked ham hock or large ham bone with plenty of meat on it. I've used both and frankly get similar results with either. On Friday I went with a meaty ham bone that I had in the freezer left over from last easter. Yes, EASTER! It had been in the freezer for almost 10 months - definitely time to use it up.
The soup thickens up incredibly in the freezer of refrigerator so you need to thin it down considerably with some water or broth when you go to use it.
1 smoked ham hock (about 1 lb/500 g)
1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 each carrots and stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp savory leaves
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
4 cups (1 L) sodium-reduced chicken stock
2 cups (500 mL) dry green or yellow split peas
3 green onions, thinly sliced
Using paring knife, peel off and discard skin from ham hock. Trim off and discard fat. Set aside.
In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-low heat; fry onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and ham hock, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add stock, peas and 2 cups (500 mL) water; bring to boil over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until peas break down and meat is tender enough to fall off hock, about 1-3/4 hours.
Remove ham hock; pull off and shred meat. Set meat aside. Discard ham bone and bay leaves. In blender, puree half of the soup; return to pot along with meat. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to container and refrigerate, uncovered, until cold. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat to serve.) Ladle into bowls; garnish with green onions.
Additional information : Tip: After removing the ham hock, you can also use an immersion blender to blend soup to half chunky stage while still in the pot.