When I host Easter brunch or dinner for family and friends, I love to serve a ham. It’s perfect for brunch and goes well with eggs and biscuits served at room temperature. For dinner, macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes along with lots of veggies is ideal. I glaze the bone-in ham (usually spiral cut) with a mixture of apricot jam and mustard and baste it regularly so the edges get crispy. As good as a well-cooked ham is for Easter, what I really like are the leftovers.
I hate wasting food so I save as much of the ham as possible. Some gets frozen for eggs, casseroles and quiches while some ends up in grilled ham and swiss sandwiches. Even the smallest ham produces lots and lots of meat! But the best part is the large bone – the shank – that remains after most of the meat is removed. It is a flavor bomb (a good thing!) and I think the perfect way to use it is to make split pea soup. It’s one of the easiest soups to make and adding the shank to the simmering soup gives it a deeper flavor beyond the stock and vegetables. If you’ve never used dried split peas, you can find them in any supermarket and normal they come in one-pound bags. No prep needed – they go right from the bag to the pot.
This recipe will net at least three quarts of soup and it freezes very well. I use an immersion blender to create a smooth texture although I like to actually taste and see the vegetables so I usually remove a couple of cups of the soup before I blend it and then add them back in. Once the soup is done, I remove the shank bone and add some diced ham. Ham can be salty so I wait till the soup is almost done before I see about seasoning with salt and pepper. A drizzle of olive oil and a dash of Tabasco (for me) is the perfect finish. Some croutons wouldn’t be bad either!
1 c Diced onion (I use sweet onions)
1 c Diced carrots
1 c Diced celery (I like to use some of the leaves for extra flavor)
1 clove Garlic, whole
2 tbs Olive oil
1 Ham bone (most of the meat removed but some is fine)
1 lb Dried split green peas
6 c Chicken or vegetable stock (low sodium if not homemade)
1/3 c Whole milk (optional)
1 ½ c Diced ham
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a large Dutch oven or pot, add the ham shank and the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and olive oil. Cook for about 5 – 8 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender. Add the split peas and stir until the peas are coated and mixed with the vegetables.
Add the stock and simmer until the peas are falling apart, about an hour. Stir frequently as the peas like to clump together on the bottom of the pot.
Remove about two cups of the soup (give or take) and blend the remaining soup till smooth with an immersion blender right it the pot. Add the two cups of soup back to the soup along with the diced ham and milk.
Cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently, and salt and pepper to taste.