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Today is a blah day in Seattle: not surprising in January but still.  My husband and the dog are curled up on the couch under a blanket, the cats are curled up together on the down puff and I am researching soup recipes and roasted vegetables, because those are the kinds of meals that you want to eat on blah days.

I remembered that I hadn’t yet posted the recipe for the slow cooker split pea soup I made last week, which is a shame because it was very good and who am I to deny you soup?  Although I made it in a slow cooker (the inaugural run for the one I got for Christmas, if you’re keeping track), it is the same recipe I have made on the stove top before, so don’t despair if you don’t have a slow cooker.  You, too, can have split pea soup!  (You just have to stir more often.)  My recipe includes a ham bone because I had one in the freezer from our Christmas dinner, but it is not necessary: you can use ham hocks or shanks in its place, or go without for a wonderful vegetarian version.  Split peas are naturally high in protein and iron; a definite benefit of including ham in the soup is that eating meat with split peas helps your body absorb more of the iron.  (Vitamin C-rich foods also help with iron absorption from vegetarian sources.)  Ham also tastes good.  But if ham is not your thing, this recipe can still be for you.  You can use green or yellow peas interchangeably– perhaps next time I will use a mix and see what happens.  Whichever variations you choose to make, this is a simple but very satisfying soup for a cold and rainy winter day.

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham

  • 6-7 c. water*
  • 2 1/4 c. rinsed and sorted dried split peas
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 c. carrots, peeled and cut into pennies
  • 1 medium onion, chopped**
  • 1 ham bone or 2 lbs. ham shanks or 2 lbs. smoked ham hocks (optional)

In a 5-6 qt. slow cooker, mix all ingredients together except for ham.  Add ham to cooker, if using.  Cook on Low for 8-10 hours or High for 6-7 hours, until peas are tender.  Remove bay leaf and discard.  Remove ham to a cutting board and pull meat from the bone with two forks; add meat back to soup.  Stir well and then serve.  Makes a LOT of soup; I put half into the freezer for later this winter.

*If you are using ham, use 6 c. water to start.  If you are cooking on the stove or not using ham, you might want closer to 7 c. to prevent your soup from drying out.  At any point, you can add more water, 1/2 c. or so at a time, if you prefer a thinner consistency.

**Next time I make the soup I am going to precook the onion in 1/2 T. butter; I want the extra dimension of sweetness and flavor that browning it will give.  However, this is not necessary.  It is so nice to have some recipes that are essentially one-step/one-pot.  So maybe I won’t do that after all… but it’s an option.

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