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a lost and found meal

a lost and found meal

by jax on September 25, 2014

split pea and ham soup

I haven’t forgotten that I promised to blog about Popover Sundays. There was an interruption in our regularly scheduled programming this past weekend (Happy Birthday, Zoe Moon!) so Popover Sunday was sadly canceled. More to come on why it’s my favorite meal of the week.

I’ve been trying something new this week: not buying groceries. Instead, I’m shopping my cupboards, fridge, and freezer and getting creative with meals. Sounds simple enough, but when you’re used to picking up a few things a few times a week, this can present some challenges. While living in the city for more than ten years, I fell into the habit of stopping at bodegas on my way home from work and gathering ingredients for that evening’s meal. I quickly grew to love shopping and cooking that way and, well, old habits die hard. I think nothing of buying food several times a week, be it from the grocery store, local farms, or one of our many country markets.

When I thought about moving to the country, one thing that really got me going (aside from dreams of a huge garden and backyard hens) was having an extra refrigerator — those who experienced my fridge and freezer in New Jersey know why. We have that huge garden now, much more than we can handle. We have the backyard hens and glorious fresh eggs. And, of course, we have an extra fridge and freezer in the garage. While I do appreciate having extra space for food, I realize  I’ve been guilty of waste and one thing I hate is wasting food. The trap: buy, cook, store, forget. One exception — the Korean food my mom and aunts make over the summer is never wasted. (Those meals are among our very favorites!)

Earlier this week, inspired by our money-saving experiment, I dug out a ham bone from Easter (little freezer burned, but I went with it anyway), along with some frozen chicken stock (hands down my favorite item to keep stocked in the freezer) and threw together a rich and satisfying split pea soup that my whole family devoured. This delicious recipe made enough for one family dinner, lunch the next day for Jef and me, and two quarts left over. The jars are neatly labeled in the freezer, with no worries of being forgotten.

Split Pea and Ham Soup with Browned Butter and Thyme
adapted from The Nourished Kitchen
2 cups split peas, rinsed 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 ham hock (about 1 1/2-2 pounds)
2 1/2 quarts homemade chicken stock

Pour the peas into a large mixing bowl, cover them with hot water by 2 inches, then stir in the baking soda. Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel and let the peas soak at room temperature for at least 6 and up to 12 hours; refreshing the peas with hot water once or twice. Drain and rinse.

Melt the butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Let the butter froth and foam until it turns a warm, toasty light brown and releases a nutty scent, about 3 minutes. Watch it closely so it doesn’t burn. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the onion, celery, and carrots. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the thyme and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.

Stir the soaked, drained split peas into the vegetables, add the ham hock, and pour in the stock. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, or until the peas fall apart when pressed with a fork. Turn off the heat, remove the ham hock from the pot, and take the meat off the bone, chopping it into bite-size pieces. Purée the soup with an immersion blender to desired consistency, then add the meat. Serve hot – yummy with sourdough toast or grilled cheese.

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