12/8/05 | Split Pea Soup
[ Currently Eating: Coffee, not surprisingly ]
Homemade split pea soup is something I’ve always wanted to try to make. The comforting image of steaming bowls of the olive colored soup with chunks of ham, carrots, celery and onion floating around in it has been ingrained into my subconsciousness. And it’s all Anderson’s fault.
Anderson? Yeah, I’m talking about Anderson’s Pea Soup in Buellton off Highway 101 very close to the “Dutchtown” of Solvang. Anyone who’s ever driven on a long trip up the 5 or 101 freeways in California HAS to have seen these billboard signs seemingly in the middle of nowhere proclaiming: “Try Anderson’s Split Pea Soup, only 227 miles!”.
I don’t actually have a picture of one of the signs but I plan to take one next time I drive up north. This is some marketing genius who thought of this. There is absolutely nothing to do while driving up these long stretches of highway, but look at the scenery. So they just buy up some cheap ad billboard space in 50 mile increments or so and plop their signs down advertising how far it is to their Pea Soup Headquarters.
I’d like to know how successful they are in getting people to think about Pea Soup… I know it’s certainly worked on me! I recently decided to make use of the extra ham and ham hock bones that are inevitably left over from Thanksgiving. I’ve never tried to make Split Pea Soup so I stopped by the market and picked up a few bags.
Helpfully, there was a recipe right on the bag. One thing about dried peas, beas, lentils… they are pretty much the same as far as I can tell. Thus, you might as well by the darned cheapest bag you can find. In this case it was the Albertson’s store brand of peas which came out at 69 cents for a 1 lb. bag.
These dried peas and beans actually expand quite a bit, so while a half pound might not seem like enough, resist the temptation to add more. They soak up an amazing amount of liquid. Also, I didn’t know that they would break down in the manner they did. I thought I might need to use a stick blender or something to get the right consistency. But all you need to do is cook it.
Green Split Pea Soup With Ham
1/2 lb of dried green split peas — $0.35
4-6 cups of water — negligible
1 Ham Hock or Ham Bone with meat still on it — free!
1 bay leaf — $0.05
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped — $0.25
2 stalks celery, chopped — $0.20
1 carrot, chopped — $0.10
2 garlic cloves, minced — $0.05
1/2 tbsp oil — $0.05
salt, pepper to taste — negligible
Wash and drain the dried peas. Watch out for tiny ROCKS in the peas… the occur every so often and can break your teeth if left in! If you’d like to, cut off the ham from the bones, cube it and set aside. Some people leave it on and then cut it off after cooking, but cutting it off before will decrease the saltiness of the soup.
Heat up the oil in a large pot, add the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook over medium heat until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more.
Add the water, peas, ham bones, bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Cook half covered over low heat for about 1 to 1.5 hours stirring occasionally. When you get near the end of cooking, you can add the cubed ham if you’ve reserved it. Add salt and pepper to taste. Delicious split pea soup is now ready!