Well, to say that we had a blizzard in New York City would be an understatement. Most subway lines have suspended service, and the streets are completely covered in snow. All of the cars on my block are buried, and the sidewalks have at least a foot and a half of snow on them. I watched car after car get stuck in the snow outside of my building last night and early this morning. I had a hard time sleeping, not only because I could hear the people outside pushing their cars out of the snow, but because I was worried about being able to get into work today. I woke up at 4 AM to check the subway service, and of course, all of the lines near my apartment are suspended. I went back to bed and woke up again at 5 AM, showered and got ready for work, and still, none of the lines were running. I spent an hour and a half trying to find a car company that had a car available to get me from Queens to Midtown Manhattan, but no such luck. I couldn’t even find a car company that had cars on the road, and it’s tough to get a cab in my area because it is so residential. It is now 7 AM, and I’m sitting on my couch, hoping that one of the car companies will call me back so I can get to work. This is what I get for moving to the East coast, right? Oh well. It’s worth it, except on days like today. At least I’m lucky enough to be inside of a warm apartment!
Now, I didn’t make a ham for Christmas, but we did have a leftover meaty ham bone from when Kramer and I made tamales a few weeks ago. I froze the ham bone, figuring that I would use it for something at a later date, but I wasn’t quite sure what. Kramer’s sister, Rachel, invited us over on Christmas Day for a Festivus-type celebration of sorts, and I wanted to bring something over. The problem with bringing food over to people’s homes in the city is that, without a car, you need to make sure that you’re bringing something that can be transported easily. Soup definitely falls into that category (for example, a few weeks ago I made my Vegan Carrot and Parsnip soup to work for a pot luck) because you can just throw it in a large Tupperware container and it reheats very easily. Rachel was making a glazed ham, so Kramer and I thought that the more ham (and bacon, of course), the merrier! Hence the split pea soup. I had never had a split pea soup using shallots and garlic; I usually use carrots and onions, but I wanted to try something different, so I did this and really liked the result. I don’t think that you can ever have too much garlic, and the savory shallots elevated this typical soup into something more, especially alongside white wine and a pinch of nutmeg, which I have been adding to a lot of my soups lately. It’s still a simple, rustic soup, though, which the pickiest eaters would even enjoy. This soup is an excellent way to use up any leftover ham from the holidays, and it will make your home smell wonderful as it simmers away on the stove.
Your ingredients, sans a few items I decided to add in as I was cooking, such as white wine and nutmeg.
Mince your shallots.
And mince your garlic.
Heat your olive oil over medium-high and add in the diced bacon, cook for 5 minutes, then add in the shallots, and cook for another 5-8 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine to deglaze.
Add in the meaty ham bone and brown on all sides.
Add in your stock until your ham bone is just covered, bring to a boil, then lower heat so that the soup is simmering, cover, and cook for about an hour, stirring frequently.
I used my new Staub Cocotte that my mom got Kramer and I for Christmas. Thanks, Mom! It’s my first really nice piece of cookware and we absolutely love it.
After an hour, add in the split peas, stir, and simmer for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the peas are soft and the meat has mostly fallen off the bone or comes off easily. Remove the ham bone from the soup and place it on a cutting board.
With your ham bone removed, strain the soup through a colander, removing the chunks of ham to dice into smaller, bite-sized pieces and mashed the peas through the colander to make a smoother soup.
Add in the bite-sized pieces of ham, as well as any other pieces from the ham bone, also cut into bite-sized pieces, and heat the soup in the original pot over low heat.
Place the 1/2 cup of crème fraîche in a small bowl and add in about 1/2 cup of soup and whisk to combine. This will be sure that the crème fraîche will blend in smoothly with the soup (otherwise known as tempering). Add the crème fraîche mixture back to the soup and stir to combine. Taste and season as necessary.
Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
- 3 large shallots, minced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅔ cup white wine (optional - I like it for deglazing the pan. You can use vegetable or chicken stock if you don't want to use alcohol)
- 1 large ham hock or bone with lots of meat on it
- 2-3 liters chicken or vegetable stock (you will need enough to just cover the ham)
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional)
- 1 16 oz. bag green or yellow split peas, rinsed
- ½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream (I prefer the more mild crème fraîche)
- In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the diced bacon and cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the shallots and cook for another 8 minutes or so, until the shallots are beginning to caramelize and the bacon is crispy. Add in the garlic and saute for 1 minute, just until fragrant. Add in the ⅔ cup of white wine to deglaze the pan, and scrape up any browned bits from the bacon or shallots.
- Add in the ham bone and brown for a few minutes on all sides. Add in the stock until the bone is covered (I used about 2½ liters) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so that the mixture is simmering, then cover, add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and red wine vinegar, and cook for 1 hour or so, stirring every so often and turning the bone so that it cooks evenly on all sides. After 1 hour, rinse your split peas and add them to the pot. Stir, and simmer for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, adding a bit of water if needed if the liquid reduces too much (I added around 1½ cups - use stock if you have it, but I didn't and it kept the salt intake down, anyway). Stir the soup frequently so that the peas don't burn to the bottom of the pan.
- When the meat is falling off the bone of the ham and the peas are soft, remove the bone from the soup and set aside. Strain the soup through a colander, mashing the peas through the holes as you go to smooth the soup out and removing large chunks of ham onto where you have set the ham bone so that you can dice them into bite-sized pieces. Pour the soup back into the pot and keep over low heat. Cut the chunks of ham into smaller, bite-sized pieces and pull off any extra pieces of ham from the bone, cutting them into bite-sized pieces as well and adding them to the soup. Taste, and season as you see fit with more salt, pepper, or nutmeg. Stir to combine, and serve. Top with a dollop of crème fraîche, if desired. Serves 6-8 people. You can make this 1 day in advance, or make it and freeze it for up to 4 months to eat at a later date.