Split Pea Soup with Smoked Pork

by feastonthecheap on March 3, 2010

Mary Anne here. Recently Mariel and I received an inquiry from our friends at The Hip Hostess, asking if dried split peas needed to soak overnight before preparing them in a soup. Split Pea Soup! How could I have forgotten to include this family staple on Feast – a dish my mom still whips up when one of her six children lands in her kitchen for more than a days’ visit. I immediately shot off a note to Mariel with the instruction that the peas did not need to pre-soak (like their cousins Navy and Great Northern beans), and then without pause, set off to the grocery store for the fixings to make this splendid soup.

When I was growing up, this was a meal that miraculously delighted all six of us (and a fussy husband). Mom cooked the pork butt in the soup and then, before serving, removed the roast, cutting thin slices of meat that we solemnly piled on soft, bakery-fresh rye (which was pre-slathered with butter and mustard). Seriously, this was an Ellicott ritual and we savored every aspect of the meal. Mom cut the remaining meat into bite-size chunks and added it back to the soup — it was like the story of the 40 loaves; this soup was the soup that kept on giving! Once married and a mom myself, I served this to my own persnickety brood with equally palate-pleasing results.

So, a BIG thank you to our pals at The Hip Hostess for reminding us about this fam favorite (they happen to be another mom-daughter team). Spoons up!

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Split Pea Soup with Smoked Pork
Make 8 Main Course Servings

Note: A “bouquet garni” is spices wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with butcher’s string. Truth is, I’m a bit lazy and find that a tea ball does the job with less fuss! Just fill it with the prescribed amount of whole spices, screw on the top and hang it from its hook and chain inside the pot.

This soup freezes well and can be prepared up to three days in advance. Like a stew, it just gets better with time. It should be thick and creamy and is a snap to make. Double the recipe and you can stash some for yet another snowy day!

Generally, pork butt is found in your local supermarket next to the bacon and pre-packaged deli meats.

Ingredients:
1 lb. dried split green peas – $0.79
1 ½ cups celery, chopped – $0.99
1 ½ cups carrots, peeled and chopped – $0.49
1 medium sweet onion (i.e. Maui or Vidalia), chopped – $0.69
2 lbs. smoked pork butt (you can also use leftover ham from a roast, just chop it up and use that in place of the smoked pork in the directions) – $9.64
8 cups water
Bouquet Garni: ½ Teaspoon whole allspice, ½ Teaspoon whole black peppercorns, and 1 Bay leaf – stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $12.60
Total Per Serving: $1.58

Directions:
1. In a large Dutch oven, combine the pork butt, chopped vegetables, dried peas, and water. Bring to a boil. (If you’re using leftover ham chunks instead of a whole pork butt, you’d still add the chopped ham at this stage).

2. Reduce the heat and add the bouquet garni. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Transfer the pork butt to a cutting board. Taste the soup and correct the seasonings, adding salt and pepper if needed.

4. If serving the soup with pork sandwiches as described in the intro, slice some of the meat for the sandwiches, trimming off any fat. Save about half of the smoked pork to cut into bite-size chunks and return them to the soup pot. Serve at once, layering the pork slices on buttered rye bread.