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Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham

I admit it, I got a little soup crazy this month with my classic New England clam chowder followed by a roundup of 10 hearty soups and stews for fall. And I'm not letting up. I always end a chilly October with one of my favorite recipes: split pea soup with smoked ham. Topped with a crusty melted cheese toast and dolloped with hot sauce, this soup is a satisfying for lunch or dinner on any crisp fall day.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 16 ounces dried green split peas
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1 hot pepper (I like to use a thai chili pepper), cut in half
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • French bread slices
  • Italian cheese
  • Your favorite hot sauce

Begin by rinsing beans and picking through to remove any small stones or soil. Cover beans about 2 inches over with water in a pot, letting them soak overnight. If you do not have time to soak them overnight add 6 cups of hot water to the beans and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. After either process is finished, drain and rinse beans before use.

Add olive oil to a large pot and heat until shimmering. Add carrots, onions, hot pepper and garlic, stirring to coat. Once vegetables are soft, add pepper, salt, cumin, and ham hock. Place beans in the pot and add the 6 cups of stock and thyme sprigs. Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and allow the beans to simmer for 1 hour 20 minutes, stirring on occasion.

Remove your ham hock from the soup, pull the ham off the bone. Chop the meat and return it to the soup. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.

Ladle soup into bowls, top with cheese toast and dollop on your favorite hot sauce. Pull out your favorite soup spoon and enjoy!

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