Split pea is a simple soup with irreproachable character. It’s tremendously comforting, downright amazing, and you either love it or remove yourself completely. This is a soup that graces many a table in the British Isles, because the flavors are outstanding and it freezes superbly well.
Mrs. Padmore served it upstairs and downstairs at Downton. This may not be her exact recipe, but I am sharing mine with you!
2 leeks, washed thoroughly and sliced thinly
1 medium onion – sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves – finely minced
2 TBSP butter
1 smoked ham hock – or some smoked ham cubed into small pieces for garnish
1 TSP of turmeric
1 bay leaf
2 medium sized carrots – peeled and cut small
12 oz of split peas – picked over and rinsed
1 medium potato – peeled and cut into small cubes
5 cups of chicken broth – preferably homemade
1 TBSP sherry vinegar or coarse Dijon Mustard
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
In a Dutch oven, melt the butter and add the onion and leeks. Sweat with some salt for about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about 3-2 more minutes.
Add the split peas, chicken stock, turmeric, potato, ham hock, bay leaf and the pepper. Hold off on the salt as the ham hock will be salty. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour until the peas have almost disintegrated. Test for doneness and seasonings.
Remove the ham hock and cool. Chop up the meat and set aside. Add the cherry vinegar and mix well. Add the ham pieces on top and sprinkle with parsley before serving.
If you don’t have a ham hock, make the soup without it, as it will be equally delicious. Using an immersion blender will achieve a smoother and silkier potage, don’t blend and it will yield a more rustic take. Instead of the vinegar you can add some grainy Dijon mustard, as I did here, as it pairs really well with the ham.