Split Pea Soup with Country Ham

dsc_0794RECIPE #275, DAY #465


ORIGINAL RECIPE: From the package of “Sarah’s Spicy Split Pea Soup Mix” from Women’s Bean Project*

TIMING: 1 1/2 hours, mostly spent unattended


TOOLS: A soup pot and other standard kitchen things

COOK TYPE: Stovetop

HEALTH: I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty virtuous and satisfied after eating a bowl of legumes and veggies, even if there is a little fat to begin and meat to end. This soup is full of vitamins and nutrients, fiber and protein, etc. And you don’t lose anything, simmering it all together in one bowl.


EXPERIENCE: This pot of soup started with a relative who had procured one of those pre-packaged bits of dry goods and spices, marketed as a soup kit. I don’t know how long it sat in the cupboard, but by the time it was given to me, it was clear he was never going to use it. When I got it home, I was surprised by two things. First, it was from a female cooperative, which boasted job opportunities for those who otherwise had no options. So that was good. I was also surprised that there was absolutely nothing in the package except split peas and a spice packet. I mean, it’s fine, but just less than I expected. On the other hand, it did open the opportunity for me to include it in my recipes.

After all my mother’s horror stories of growing up poor and being forced to eat split pea soup on a regular basis, I was nervous about trying it on my family. Lo and behold, my husband called it the best split pea soup he had ever had, and the kids both slurped it down.

It would be three times as good on a cold, dreary, rainy day.

NOTES: I find country ham to be a bit too assertive and even gamy, sometimes. To top this soup, however, it is just right.


  1. In a soup pot, combine 1 1/2 cups split peas, 4 cups pork or chicken broth, and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook 1 hour. Keep an eye on it, and if it gets too low or thick, add more water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons bacon grease or butter over medium-high heat. Add 1 diced onion and 4 chopped carrots and cook until softened. Set aside.
  3. When peas have cooked 1 hour, add the onions and carrots, as well as 1 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake (preferably ground), 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon mace, 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Stir, then simmer another 20 minutes, or until soup is desired consistency.
  4. Check for salt and pepper, then serve hot with crusty bread and topped with 12 ounces small-diced country ham.


Serve with that crusty bread and butter, and cold cider (hard or soft).

*Recipe changed from the original.


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