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I am celebrating

2010 didn’t exit quietly, and the last month of it was a royal mess. But my aunt is okay now - even heading back to work! The rewards of health! - and for that, we’re relieved. I’m home again and excited for a new year, for the return of plain, normal, everyday life. I love plain, normal, everyday life. The laundry, the occasional clean sheets, the morning coffee that I never brew right, the dog asleep on the couch, the arrival of the mail, the mail carrier who hates the dog, the restaurant, the work, the split pea soup.

Few things are uglier than split pea soup, but that is alright with me. I’ve been on something of a split pea binge for the past month. (Am I the first person in the world to write the words split, pea, and binge in sequence? If so, I assume I will also be the last.) I’d made split pea soup a few times in years past, and once I even made an exotic version involving miso, but until this past fall, I hadn’t found one I felt loyal to. Now that I have, I am celebrating by eating a totally immoderate amount of it. By the way, if the idea of a split pea binge doesn’t ring your bell, I can also recommend a Reese’s Peanut Butter Trees binge. ‘Tis the season, -ish. Hard to go wrong, either way.

Split pea soup is a straightforward thing, and it hardly needs a recipe. Whether it includes ham or not, the process is mostly the same: get some aromatics going in a pot, add split peas and your liquid of choice, and cook until the peas soften, soften some more, and finally settle to a pleasing mush. But I learned my recipe, or the bones of it, from my friend Winnie, and though it looks plain on paper, it really does the job.

Behold the Winnie in her natural habitat. She’s one of the finest, most intuitive cooks I know: even when she’s cooking from a recipe, she hardly looks at it. She just knows what to do. Though she lives on the other side of the continent, I was lucky enough to get to cook with her several times in 2010, and to learn a few things in the process. For instance, I learned that one should never be without a stash of Allan Benton’s country ham, the backbone of this split pea soup and, now, the newest staple of my kitchen. I would have taken a picture of it for you, but I used my last package a week ago. 2011 is off to a rough start.

Until Winnie let me in on the not-so-secret secret, I used to be daunted by the idea of trying to get a hold of proper country ham: the southern kind, slow cured and naturally smoked, fragrant and salty and thoroughly hammy. I thought you had to buy a whole leg - and maybe from some producers, you do. But Allan Benton sells his in vacuum-packed slices that are perfect for chucking into a soup pot or frying in a skillet, saucing with apple cider, and then sandwiching in a biscuit. Whatever you like. Sometimes I open the fridge, pull out a package, and just sniff at it. It’s so smoky - in the true wood-smoke way, not that trumped-up liquid smoke way - that you can smell it even through the plastic. Now you know how I spend my free time.

Winnie’s split pea soup, as she taught it to me, begins with a slice of Benton’s ham, which you fry in a soup pot with a little olive oil. When it’s golden on both sides and the bottom of the pan has a few nice, browned bits stuck to it, you add some chopped carrot and onion and sweat them for ten minutes or so, and then you add split peas and water. There’s no need for stock here; the ham flavor is so generous that it fills the pot. Then you forget about it for at least an hour, and likely two. And then you set the table, and because it’s January and dark outside and you happen to have bought some candles at the store, you light one or two or three, and dinner is ready.

Split Pea Soup with Country Ham
Inspired by Winnie Yang

Until recently, I didn’t know that the age of dried legumes made a difference in their cooking time, but it does. If your dried split peas are fairly fresh, they will take less time to cook than those that have sat on the grocery store shelf for a while. In any case, cook them until they completely break down. If yours are on the older side, you may need to start with a little more water than I call for below, since the cooking time will be on the long side.

Olive oil
1 slice (~4 ounces) Benton’s hickory smoked country ham, or similar
1 large onion or leek, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 cups dried split peas
8 cups water, plus more as needed
Salt, to taste
Apple cider vinegar, to taste

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, warm a little olive oil over medium high heat. Add the ham, and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Add the leek and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes. (If the pan seems dry when you add the vegetables, add oil as needed.) Add the split peas and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring regularly to prevent scorching, for 90 minutes to 2 hours, or until the peas have completely broken down and the soup has a creamy texture. This amount of water makes for a fairly thick soup; if you like yours thinner, add more water until it reaches your desired texture. The slice of ham should break apart as it cooks, but if necessary, use a couple of forks to tear it into smaller pieces. Taste the soup, and salt as needed. If the flavor is a little dull, add a splash or two of apple cider vinegar; you shouldn’t taste the vinegar in the soup, but it should subtly wake up the flavor.

Serve hot.

Yield: about six servings


Blogger GirlSavorsLife said...

Split pea soup is one of my favorite-- I'll try this recipe!

Glad your aunt is doing so much better!

6:45 PM, January 08, 2011  
Blogger christina said...

You are back...hooray. So happy to hear about your aunt, and so excited to make this delicious soup. A perfect winter meal. Wishing you and yours the happiest new year and a brilliant 2011!!

6:49 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Heather said...

Glad everyone is doing ok. I may have to add this to soups to learn. I better hurry while I'm still located in the south where I can find plenty salty hams.

7:08 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous blair said...

Happy New Year Molly! I just made a huge batch of split pea soup this week. I love watching the kids faces when they see me heating it up to eat. I'm going to try this one next, sounds amazing and Peter says split is only outstanding with ham.

7:26 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Jen @ Making Messes said...

Glad to hear things are okay. Just stumbled upon your blog. Thanks for sharing!

7:33 PM, January 08, 2011  
Blogger debra said...

I'm kind of like Winnie. to me, recipes are guidelines. This one sounds like a keeper. Thanks

7:38 PM, January 08, 2011  
Blogger Jeanie said...

I love split pea soup! Thanks.

7:40 PM, January 08, 2011  
Blogger Ms. Bum said...

This looks lovely! The kind of smooth, savory comfort that everyone needs in the post-holiday drizzly slump. I hope you and your family stay healthy and happy!

7:51 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Jude said...

What a coincidence. I'm planning split pea soup for dinner Monday, my first--but not last--meatless Monday.

7:58 PM, January 08, 2011  
Blogger carey said...

Ooooh, I know what dinner tomorrow will be!

8:05 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous molly said...

The only country ham I've ever called my own was a fourteen pound goliath covered in cheesecloth and green mold. It was the scariest thing that had ever entered my kitchen, and the most delicious. I'm fairly certain both verdicts remain true (though I've been too chicken to repeat the experience).

Slices, you say? Slices may just transform my world.

8:06 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly, are you still writing for Bon Appetit? I got my new issue & was CRUSHED to find your column was a new guy. :(

8:27 PM, January 08, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Hi, all! Thank you for the kind words. Happy 2011 to you and yours.

Anonymous, I wish I had better news about BA, but sadly, my contract there has ended. They're making a lot of changes to the magazine, as you've probably heard/read, and everyone I worked with has been let go. You'll see a story by me in the April 2011 issue, but otherwise, no more.

8:34 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Francesca said...

A beautiful recipe - I love ham and pea soup, though I've usually gone with a ham hock - this just might change everything! xo

8:41 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Jessica @ How Sweet said...

I have never had split pea soup, but hear it's the best!

8:43 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Stephanie @ Dollop of Cream said...

Glad to hear 2011 seems to be starting more gently for your family than 2010 finished.

Thank you for the new split pea soup recipe! For the months of September to April, I think I make a different variation of split pea or lentil soup every week. They're just perfect winter food -- warm and filling and great in my lunch the next day.

9:27 PM, January 08, 2011  
Blogger Tracy said...

Happy New Year! I know all about binging, but not about binging on split pea soup. Reese's Peanut Butter cups in any shape, that I could get behind.

9:48 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Louise @ Kitchen Fiddler said...

Hooray for your aunt's improved health, your new post and this delicious-looking recipe! It looks like the perfect thing to enjoy on a snowy winter evening. I'm also glad--and a little alarmed--to know that smaller quantities of Benton's hams are available. Here comes trouble!!!

10:03 PM, January 08, 2011  
Blogger Teobromina said...

Yes, you are the first! split pea binge @ google

10:25 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Nooks and Cranberries said...

Ah, the humble, homely soup. Aren't those the greatest sometimes? I just enjoyed a wonderful hot cup of yellow pea soup from a Scandinavian shop in Seattle the other day, alongside a traditional open-faced sandwich with smoked salmon and egg salad. The Scandinavian version has me hungry for true split pea soup now. Thanks!

11:17 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Adele said...

Dear Molly. I've just finished your book, and I loved every letter of it. Thank you so much for writing it. I made the chocolate cake and ate it all (minus one slice which my father-in-law wanted, shame on him). I'm glad your aunt is better, and I'm glad your year is going well so far, apart from not having any ham left. I'm looking forward to reading more in 2011.

11:57 PM, January 08, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh man, I live in TN and Benton is very popular, of course--Restaurant Iris uses his stuff in everything. The bacon is to die for, even in ice cream.

2:37 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Luisa said...

Delicious. So glad all is well. You sound inspired, which inspires me, too. :) xo

3:16 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous 641cookery said...

Gorgeous soup, sounds so appetising and wholesome. Not so sure I'd be able to get salt ham here in the North of England. May try it with good old Lancashire ham shank.

3:56 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Philamark said...


Glad to see you back here and that everything is ok with your Aunt. I'm really going to miss your BA column and am concerned on how that magazine will become. I'm glad that we have your blog and wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2011!

4:24 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Aku said...

Happy new year Molly and glad to hear that your aunt has made such a good recovery. Lovely to have you back :) I read your book over Christmas and thought it was wonderful through and through.

5:06 AM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger LyB said...

Split pea soup always reminds me of my dad. He would put small pieces of ham in his and also some turnip, diced so finely it would melt into the soup. Comfort food par excellence. Happy New Year!

5:27 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Belinda @zomppa said...

Ah, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Looks like a flavorful soup full of depth.

5:40 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Teafortwo said...

I went to a cooking presentation last winter where Chef Linton Hopkins was singing the praises of Benton Ham (just a state away in Tennessee). He gave a package of it away as a prize, but I didn't win it. Some 12 year old in the audience did. I hope he put it to good use! I do love a good split pea soup!

Glad your aunt is on the mend. Illness around the holidays is just so difficult.

6:23 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Bogna @ Pots and Frills said...

I absolutely agree with you on the aesthetic qualities of the split pea soup. Nevertheless, this is a one the best winter food ideas. In Poland, we use yellow split pea, add carrot, bacon or ham, and season the soup with dried marjoram.

6:26 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I yearn for pea soup--summer, winter, any season at all. The recipe from Cooks Illustrated, although a little more work, is truly fantastic. I'm always open to new recipes, so I'll give this one a whirl!

6:30 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Jenny said...

I've tried making split pea soup and always found it lacking that certain something . . .now, I know what . . . country ham like my grandparents used to cure themselves.

7:04 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous dc sarah said...

My mother used to do a split pea soup every year with the leftover turkey bits after Thanksgiving. This story definitely stirred (har) some memories. Will have to try. Have been on a tomato cilantro stem soup binge this week! Very happy to hear your aunt is on the mend. Cheers to a 2011 full of the normal life moments!n

7:25 AM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Susan said...

"By the way, if the idea of a split pea binge doesn’t ring your bell, I can also recommend a Reese’s Peanut Butter Trees binge. ‘Tis the season, -ish. Hard to go wrong, either way."

I love this bit!

7:30 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Victoria said...

This is such a coincidence. Yesterday I was thinking about a wonderful split pea soup I had when I was in high school. I was invited by a classmate to join a group to go caroling. We then went home to her beautiful house and sat at a mahogany dining room table and ate, using antique silver spoons, the most delicious, smokey split pea soup. It was a meal to remember, and I have never been able to equal that soup although I have tried many times.

After making a half ham last week I was left with the currency of a beautiful ham bone - but no split peas. So I made a soup with a bag of lovely borlotti beans from Zabar's, loosely adapting the method Melissa Clark described in her New York Times column, advancing the theory you don't have to soak beans before cooking. It worked well, and my soup was good, but it wasn't the split pea I was hankering for.

Molly, remember those delicious rice-stuffed tomatoes you posted? The thought of them makes me miss the days of summer's glorious tomatoes. But this soup will probably make up for that. I have already ordered the ham.

Happy New Year!!!

7:34 AM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Kacrates said...

Cool recipe for split pea. Im also in the moood for lentils.

8:21 AM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Sophia Katt said...

When we were little, my baby sister begged to be allowed to cook pea soup. My mom complied and let her pick all the ingredients and amounts. They misgauged how much three cups of peas would swell into, and the soup kept cooking, overflowing onto the stove and eventually into two other Dutch ovens before the cascade was done. We never let her forget it. Every time someone uses the phrase "fog like a pea-souper" I think of all that burbling green gray spilling on the burners.

8:21 AM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger J+K said...

My family loves split pea. Mine usually starts with the leftover Honey Baked ham bone, which is yummy! But thanks for the ham tip...I will check it out.
It's good to see you back in the kitchen!

8:41 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Jen said...

I have the (unfortunate) pleasure of cooking for some vegetarians and vegans lately, and so I wonder if there is any decent flavor substitute for the ham that is meat-free? If not, then I will just have to put some boring vegetable soup on the stove for them, and have this all for the carnivores in the house.

8:42 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

My husband and I love split pea soup and thanks to "Owl at Home" by Arnold Lobel (in which owl eats pea soup and toast), my five year-old does too! Where can one purchase Benton's ham? Whole Foods maybe?

9:31 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Haan Palcu-Chang said...

Mmmmmm... Looks delicious. I will have to make it to warm me up here in Denmark. It is a little cold.

Doing it with yellow peas is also delicious. That's how we used to do it in Canada. At least in the parts close to Quebec.

The only problem with the French Canadian version is that the soup is more used as a life-support system for giant chunks of ham hock, not as the star of the show.

I like it when the ham is there to compliment the peas but not overwhelm their flavour.

Clearly this long comment indicates I care about pea soup a lot. I'll stop writing now.

10:25 AM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger michaela said...

eat all the reese's trees you can. it will be sometime until the eggs come along. its just the right ratio of chocolate to pb.

and i also am disappointed about the BA column. they should have continued to use your photos with your writing while you were with them.

10:30 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Kathryn said...

Molly, I am glad your aunt is doing well.
I devoured your book, which I received as a Christmas present, in one day! What an absolutely lovely writing style you have (along with fabulous recipes!).
Your BA column was the only reason I kept my subscription as long as I did. It just expired, and I was thinking about renewing, but luckily I read these comments first.
Best of luck for 2011!

11:07 AM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Nancy said...

Glad to hear your aunt is feeling better!

Mmm, I've been craving split pea soup lately - must make this next weekend. I was thinking bacon but I'm sold on the ham :)

11:23 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous P O T A G E R said...

Glad to hear about your aunt, Molly. And Split Pea Soup makes a great celebratory statement!

11:33 AM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Lisa said...

So glad to hear your Aunt is on the mend, and you are enjoying pea soup. : ) Happy New Year, Molly!

11:41 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Fear not: you are not alone. While I haven't been on a split pea binge, I've been on quite a tear with lentils. Since lentils are supposed to bring luck for the new year, I've decided to load up. So you are in good legume-y company!

I just learned that old lentils take longer to cook too (and that the cooking time also depends on the type of lentil). Who knew?

Happy New Year, Molly!

12:06 PM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous kickpleat said...

I've heard so much about Benton's hams lately - too bad they don't ship to Canada. I'm all about pea soup - I've been a fan since I was a kid. I'll make this with another ham sub cuz that's how we'll have to roll up here.

12:39 PM, January 09, 2011  
OpenID smalltownoven said...

Split pea soup is most definitely one of my favorite comfort foods. Yum!

12:54 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Keri said...

Gah - no Benton's for Canadians like me. I will have to rely upon the kindness of my Tennessee aunt to re-send a package on to me. Although now I wonder if that's an awful lot of work for a bowl of soup. But I have this gorgeous package of green split peas hanging out in my cupboard, and after the flu-y week here, I think soup is a must-do.
I'm also really sorry about the BA column, but overjoyed that your aunt is healthy again.
Bonne année, Molly.

1:11 PM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous beanwean said...

I've never had a Benton ham, but since he's from TN, I expect he does it right. My family has always bought Clifty hams. This recipe will be a good way to use up some of the 18lb Clifty I cooked for Xmas!

2:10 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger MikeWas said...

We made a soup with split peas & lentils for the new year. Cooked with a meaty ham bone. Also added chunks of ham near the end, just to heat through.

The long-cooked meat from the hambone has a wonderful flavor that spreads through the broth, but the less-cooked chunks of ham add another layer of flavor & texture.

3:13 PM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Renee said...

My mom always made split pea soup for me and since her passing almost five years ago I haven't had any. Seeing your recipe made realize it's time-thanks for the recipe:)

3:42 PM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly - You may want to delete the link in the recipe since it seems to go to an actual person's order!

This is the perfect way to try out country ham without buying the whole thing. We do a whole ham at Christmas and use the thinly sliced pieces in soups, souffles, breakfast, sandwiches and just to nibble. I had to give a lot away this year, so I'm looking forward to restocking with this ham.

4:00 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Happy Sunday, friends.

Victoria, I love that caroling memory! We used to carol with a big group of families when I was little, and I miss it. At any rate, I hope you like the ham as much as I do. I really like it for split peas because it brings a good dose of smokiness without overwhelming the pea flavor. (I think ham hocks can almost get too hammy.)

Jen, re: vegetarian takes on the theme, there's a split pea soup with miso in one of the Moosewood cookbooks - it's the miso version I mentioned in the post - and you might try that. I think the miso is intended to give the kind of depth of flavor and umami that ham would.

Jennifer, Benton's is, as far as I know, mail-order only. (Maybe if you live in TN or other parts of the South, you can find it in stores, but I'm not sure.) You can order online or call them. I called, and the woman I spoke to was the nicest person on the planet. It really made me happy.

Anonymous, thanks for the tip about the link! That's so strange. I have no idea whose order that was. Very odd. Anyway, it should be fixed now!

4:16 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said...

xxoo Molly - hope 2011 continues to improve from here on out!

5:39 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Rebekka Seale said...

No wayyyyyyyy. I live in Nashville, so I've been stuck on Benton's for a while now, but I had no IDEA it was like, famous!!!

6:02 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Claudia said...

Glad your aunt is off and running? Did you give her your soup? Your currient lentil soup has become a weekend staple around here.It cuts right through the MN winter and warms. i expect your pea soup to do the same. I binge on soup all winter (avoiding your pea soup binge phrase).

I've read BA since the late 80's and had stopped for awhile - because after awhile, all the recipes seem to have been covered. And then you came along and I returned. So sorry to hear they've let your contract drop. You've "personalized" the joy of eating - it's food- good food - and sharing and creating and indulging - happily. Your bring me back to other times, other places and to loved ones. Don't know if anyone else can do that.

6:35 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Sara said...


Just wanted to say that I will miss reading your monthly column in BA. I can only hope that this means more blog posts or another cookbook (apologies for my selfishness). I made it to Seattle a few weeks ago, but alas, it was a Monday night. My next trip will be based around your restaurant hours... no joke!

Best Wishes,

6:38 PM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always loved split pea soup, but it fell out of favor after the Rosemary's Baby scene -- glad to see it making a comeback!

7:13 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger shannon said...

Molly, I am glad I read the comments. I kept going through Bon Appetit over and over the other day looking for your article! I am sorry to hear, but I hope that leaves you more time to write entries here on your blog!

8:17 PM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous patty said...

Hi Molly.

I'm glad your aunt's doing better.
I love split pea soup; in fact, I think I won over my ex-mother-in-law with a bowl of it. I'm gonna add your recipe to my files.

8:58 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger A Day That is Dessert said...

I've been on a total soup binge the past month or so; can't wait to make this. Thank you. (Tonight I made the barley/chicken/sweet potato soup from Melissa Clark's new book and I liked it alright, but really it was too sweet for my taste. I don't like a sweet dinner.)

I'm sorry to hear via the comments - didn't think to ask you - about the BA column.

9:11 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Hungry Passport said...

Next time I see you I'll tell you my split pea soup horror story. It's truly NOT for sharing on a food blog! Funny in retrospect but not at the time...

10:36 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Josh said...

Just made this soup today. Was perfect, my lunch guests agreed. I paired it with some rosemary bread from Ballard Market.

10:40 PM, January 09, 2011  
Blogger Megan Gordon said...

Well Molly, I've been making your curried lentil soup from BA like a crazy person the last few weeks. I'm thinking split pea is up to bat next. Thanks for the ham tip; excited to check them out!

11:52 PM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Jen - I usually make Heidi Swanson's veg split pea soup (because it's so easy, I'm not a vego) and top it with a pinch of smoked paprika which gives a sweet smokey depth that might help replace the dead pig.

@Molly - I'm happy to hear things have been going better! This soup does sound great but as I'm in Australia I wont be getting my hands on a Tennesee ham anytime soon.

12:39 AM, January 10, 2011  
Blogger The Food Mentalist said...

This sounds so hearty. Once it starts to cool down here in Australia ( its so hot right now!) I will have to give this recipe a try x

2:37 AM, January 10, 2011  
Anonymous Heather (Heather's Dish) said...

this soup sounds just amazing...so perfect for the snowstorm we're having!

4:37 AM, January 10, 2011  
Blogger Caroline Shields said...

Love the use of a little acid.

6:39 AM, January 10, 2011  
Blogger Johanna said...

This looks delicious! Split Pea Soup is so comforting. Luckily, I live on the American ham belt.

7:30 AM, January 10, 2011  
Blogger Salanth said...

Slices are the best news I've had this year! ;)


8:39 AM, January 10, 2011  
Blogger Kari said...

Just have to say...

I was up in Seattle for the holidays visiting family (I live in Eugene, OR), and was so looking forward to a first visit to Delancey. So sad you guys were closed for the holidays! But, I get it. I'll just have to make another trip up soon. :)

9:28 AM, January 10, 2011  
Blogger Anna said...

What a timely post! I got a slow cooker as a gift over the holidays and this morning I tossed some split peas, carrots, beef and stock into it. And I've been worrying about it all day. Mind you I had to plug it in and lock it in the bathroom to keep the cat from getting into it, but I'm hoping for a lovely stew when I get home. I'm a little bit biased when it comes to split pea soup since I love the version my mom makes so much, but yours sounds yummy so I'll definitely give it a try. That is if my slow cooker didn't explode and leave me homeless.

10:41 AM, January 10, 2011  
Blogger kim said...

So glad you're back - Happy New Year! My husband is from Virginia and swears by Virginia hams (which are basically country ham - but here in North Carolina they favor a sweeter spiral sliced ham, which he doesn't allow in our house) - so he makes one every Thanksgiving. It does wonders for all kinds of legumes. So glad your aunt is on th mend!

2:41 PM, January 10, 2011  
Blogger Flower said...

I was given your book for Christmas and fell into reading while sitting in front of our woodstove on these cold days. I really have enjoyed it and look forward to trying several of the recipes!
Split Pea is a favorite at our house. I will copy Winnie's recipe and give it a try. My split pea soup has all of her ingredients plus at least two large handfuls of diced celery. Yum!!
I'm glad to have found your blog!

4:19 PM, January 10, 2011  
Anonymous amanda@seegirlcook said...

mmm, i loove split pea soup. it's the perfect weather for it!

5:02 PM, January 10, 2011  
Blogger dmpereira906 said...

How coincidental that today of all days I popped on to your blog to see what's new...lo and behold split pea soup!! I was just thinking of making some a little earlier today. Will be making some most definitely!
( :

5:33 PM, January 10, 2011  
Blogger Payal Shah said...

Hi Molly, Thanks for the soup recipe. I will surely be making this soup soon. My holiday season was full with your recipes. I made the chocolate blocks, the peppermint bark and your Curried Lentil Soup from Bon Appetit. I will surely miss reading your Cooking Life column. I was disappointed to see another person write that same column for January issue. His story failed to hold my interest. It wasn't the same w/t your story. Thank god we can still count on Orangette :)

5:57 PM, January 10, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Made this soup for dinner tonight ... yummy! Used our favorite ham steak and we're licking the bowls clean. So simple and quick to pull together ... this package of peas must have been pretty fresh ... only took an hour to get nice and soft and creamy. Thank you!

7:01 PM, January 10, 2011  
Anonymous Kasey said...

So glad to hear that your aunt is doing well!! Also, split pea soup is maybe on the best things in the world.

8:14 PM, January 10, 2011  
Anonymous mary in the kitchen said...

I am finally sitting down to check your new post. I can't believe it is on split pea soup! I had a pot simmering this afternoon for dinner! My sister gave me a beautifully meat-heavy honey ham bone and it is finally feeling like winter of sorts in San Antonio. Oh how wonderful dinner was this chilly evening. How lucky are we to cook and savor the wonderful aromas, tastes and memories of a comforting pot of soup on a cold winter day. It will be even better tomorrow! Life can be full of ups, downs and scary moments, but the kitchen can help comfort us in so many ways. Here's to a full pantry and many comforts shared for all in 2011!

8:40 PM, January 10, 2011  
Anonymous Scott said...

Hi Molly-This is my first comment, mainly because I've never felt the need to - your recipes are always so spot on. The recipe calls for salt but no pepper-"ridiculous!" exclaimed my mom when I mentioned this "YOU HAVE to put pepper in split pea soup!" So there you have it-direct from mama soup Nazi.

9:16 AM, January 11, 2011  
Blogger Ashley Conrad said...

Made this last night. It was amazing!! Perfect winter night dinner.

10:01 AM, January 11, 2011  
Blogger alphawoman said...

Made this last night from menory (lol) only left out the apple cider. Made my husband cut off some meat from a ham that has been hanging out at his work since the holidays (great thing about smoke ham is how long it stays fresh!) - wanted to say, it was delish.

2:14 PM, January 11, 2011  
Anonymous Katie said...

This sounds like the perfect way to warm up right now! I like the idea of buying ham slices, rather than a whole ham (which is far too much ham for one person too consume)!

4:11 PM, January 11, 2011  
Anonymous Brooks Walker said...

Wonderful news about your aunt's health returning to a state of vim and vigor. I'm intrigued to simmer up a pot of your Split Pea Soup. In the past I've used a chicken stock with a ham hock, but now I'll swap it out for the water base, prized ham and the cider vinegar... Just thinking of it already warms up the bitter temps outside. Cheers!

4:42 PM, January 11, 2011  
Blogger indigo said...

I'd been thinking about split pea soup for a few days, so thank you for the timely nudge! I can't be mail-ordering food, that's just not me, so I improvised with some prosciutto I had in the fridge, plus smoked paprika. The texture of the prosciutto in the finished soup left something to be desired, but overall I was very happy with the flavor.

Happy new year & keep on rockin!

4:59 PM, January 11, 2011  
Blogger Kathryn said...

New to this food blog thing, but ADORE yours and read the book last year.

What cut of the ham should we order?

You are a busy girl with a TON to offer and lots on your proverbial plate. But it appears that you are clearly following your passion!

6:36 PM, January 11, 2011  
Blogger Dahlia ChanTang said...

So happy to hear that your aunt is well.
If that doesn't deserve a celebration, I don't what would! Happy new beginnings!

9:47 PM, January 11, 2011  
OpenID siftingandsowing said...

yum! sounds delcious, think i might attempt something similar with some lentils as i seem to have an abundance of them in my cupboard.

3:51 AM, January 12, 2011  
Anonymous Mikaela Cowles said...

This makes me want to call into work and say "SNOW DAY!" and then pull back on my sweats and eat soup.

5:54 AM, January 12, 2011  
Anonymous Heidi C. Normand said...

I grew up in VT / NH to French Canadian parents and let me tell you do I know Pea soup! And I love it. Anything with pork rocks!
Just finished the book and loved it and have put Orangette on my humble blogroll at foodiesarefun.com.

10:43 AM, January 12, 2011  
Anonymous noëlle {simmer down!} said...

I had some Benton's country ham and bacon brought to me by a friend who had traveled there. The bacon was good (although VERY fatty and smoky) but we found the ham so salty as to be inedible. Are you supposed to par-boil it or something? I suppose in a soup the saltiness would dissipate somewhat, but I couldn't imagine using very much of it.

12:09 PM, January 12, 2011  
Anonymous Marie said...

I just had to post a comment - not only did I binge on Reese's Trees and the Snowman (not as good as the trees, btw), I've had nothing but vegan split pea cup o' soup for lunch all week. Aren't they mutually inclusive?? :)

5:54 PM, January 12, 2011  
Blogger rebecca said...

it was delicious! i realize it's meant to highlight the country ham. alas, the single slice i had in the cupboard was probably a few years too old, so i bought a slice of plain ham from the meat store just outside of town and cooked up the soup. turned out great!

my uncle raises pigs in pinetown, north carolina and sends my mom a country ham every christmas. i've always found it to be TOO salty in a ham biscuit, so never really enjoyed it, though i wanted to use it here in a recipe where it could impart its flavor but give a less salty bite. oh well, i'll have to get a slice of this year's ham and try it again!

6:46 PM, January 12, 2011  
OpenID alienmom said...

you are not alone...i have also been on a split pea soup kick since christmas!! freaky, i tell ya!

8:37 PM, January 12, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Hi, friends. A couple of thoughts about the country ham:

Kathryn, you want to order the cut I linked to in the list of ingredients for the recipe. (Vacuum-sealed boneless center cuts of hickory smoked country ham.)

Noelle, yes, in a some cases, you would want to soak this ham in water before using. (A big bowl of cool water for ten minutes should do the trick.) I soak mine before I pan-fry it for biscuits - and then I take care to dry it off before putting it in the skillet, so it browns properly. But for soup, that saltiness is really useful! You won't need much additional salt at all. Just be sure to salt at the end of the cooking process and not at the beginning, so that you can taste and decide exactly how much you need.

Rebecca, it would definitely be too salty in a biscuit if it hadn't been soaked. (See paragraph immediately above.) When you get some of this year's ham, try soaking first. And can I say how awesome it is that you have an uncle who raises pigs and sends your mom a WHOLE HAM?! Please tell your mom that I'm coming over next Christmas.

8:51 PM, January 12, 2011  
Anonymous the constant hunger said...

I love pea soup, with just a hint of ham flavor. It's the best thing to eat when it's cold and dark and January outside.

4:43 AM, January 13, 2011  
Blogger ab said...

I made this night for dinner. Didn't think the vinegar would do much. Boy was I wrong. Thanks for the tip!

8:21 AM, January 13, 2011  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

May this be a wonderful year for you, Molly!

Please, please, on the next wintery day when you're in the mood to climb the walls and dance across the ceiling in anticipation of the pleasure of eating split pea soup, go to the source and make snert: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/76568-dutch-cooking/page__st__330__p__1104026#entry1104026

This traditional Dutch recipe requires a great deal of patience since it takes forever and the aroma will do to your nose what sirens did to the eyes and ears of Odysseus. It's worth it.

11:02 AM, January 13, 2011  
Blogger kandace said...

I made this soup yesterday and I'm eating the left overs today:) So I didn't use the amazing ham but I promise I will in the future. I used ham broth from the local butcher and a ham hock. I have tried to make this soup before but I got the liquid to split pea proportion wrong. This recipe was great and I especially like the flavor of the touch of apple cider vinegar. It was delicious, thank you!

1:44 PM, January 13, 2011  
Blogger flwrjane said...

Is there room for me here?

Ok, made some.

I am celebrating because i have finally bought your book and am savoring every page.

Laurie Colwin was always my favorite food writer and i have felt a comfort gap for many years now.

But you are more than filling it.

Thank you. jane

7:13 PM, January 13, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello Molly-
i just took your book out of the library and DEVOURED it. Now, i have to buy it b/c i need the recipes. For the person looking for a good vegetarian split pea soup, may i recommend my favorite from p. 70 of anna thomas'vegetarian epicure, book two? the sweet potato/marjoram/ white wine are key, i think. The fresh pea soup on p. 83 is pretty good, too. But, i will have to try ms. wang's recipe. cider VINEGAR? I, like Brandon, adore vinegar. glad of of yours are on the mend. happy new year and thanks!

3:03 AM, January 14, 2011  
Blogger Melanie said...

This is my first comment on your blog. Your recipes and your writing inspire me!!
Your comments about the cured ham made this South Carolina girl SMILE :)! Ham or bacon...pork, in general...added to anything makes it better. Ha The very best biscuit to partner with that luscious ham is a sweet potato biscuit or a buttermilk biscuit with sweet potato mustard. Heaven to the lips, but hell on the hips! Oh, well!

5:30 AM, January 14, 2011  
Blogger Kathy Lou said...

A group of teachers at my school will be discussing your book (love it!) on February 3. Would you be interested in joining us to say hi via Skype? We'll give you lots of love!

8:32 AM, January 14, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there!
I couldn't locate a link on your blog to contact you more directly, so I'm leaving a comment that has nothing to do with this post!
I am a new fan and as part of a book club, it's my turn to choose a book. Feeling the need for a refreshing read, I have chosen for us to read your book! I'm excited for something a little different and as I'm engaged by your blog, I'm sure it will be the same for your book.
I wanted to ask as I'm hosting next week--would you mind suggesting some good book club eats as I introduce your book?
I'm hoping to do some gourmet cheeses-think mango and a caramelized onion option--but I'm kinda stuck from there! Just light apps and something sweet. I'd be ever so delighted with a response! Fellow readers, feel free to opine, as well. :)

9:05 AM, January 14, 2011  
Anonymous Sophie said...

Hello there,
A recent finder of your blog and a recent adorer as well. Yummy in every sense. And something calm and peaceful seems to shine through.... i don't know why.
Anyway love it so much i am adding you to my blogroll.
Thank you!

11:58 AM, January 14, 2011  
Anonymous Phyllis Kirigin said...

Great comfort food! I like to use a couple of ham hocks throughout the cooking and then take them out, dice up the meat and put it back in the soup. Also, before putting the ham back in, I put the soup through the smaller of the two sieves of a food mill. It provides just the right texture

4:51 PM, January 14, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Kathy Lou, will you send me an e-mail with more details about February 3 - what time, etc.? My e-mail address is cheeseandchocolate (at) gmail (dot) com. Hoping I can make it work...

Melissa, thanks for choosing my book for your club! For food ideas, hmm, cheese and cured meats always works, and if you wanted to make a recipe from the book, you might try the pickled carrots, which would be nice as part of a low-key appetizer spread. (They would need to be made soon, though, since they take several days to absorb the brine and taste fully pickled.) And for dessert, maybe coconut macaroons with chocolate ganache? Those are in the book too. Or lemon yogurt cake?

7:13 PM, January 14, 2011  
Blogger cyn said...

Split pea soup always reminds me of nursery school - it took me years to figure out that that wonderful smell I associated with my preschool was split pea soup. Who feeds split pea soup to 3 year olds?! Geniuses do! :-) I'll search out a good ham up here in Canada.

Continued good fortune, Molly.

7:21 PM, January 14, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recommend The Grit Cookbook's Split Pea Daal. It has curry and cumin and is unbelievable!

8:56 PM, January 14, 2011  
Blogger Madeline... said...

Have been following the blog for a while now, and I just moved to Seattle (Green Lake) and am SO excited to visit Delancey!!!


1:21 AM, January 15, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly, Thanks so much for the response. Perfect timing as I have the weekend to prepare. We're a young bunch, all with little kids, so we like to make our little get togethers special. Yum, lemon yogurt cake? How perfect to serve something from the book that we'll be reading. Thanks for all of the feedback!
We'll have to look for book #2 whenever it comes out! :)
Again, thanks for taking time out of your day to respond.

7:56 AM, January 15, 2011  
Blogger Sharon said...

I really enjoy your blog Molly. Soup in winter is the cure for almost anything, so this is very timely. I would be honored if you would check out my blog sometime, http://www.orangemadeleines.blogspot.com.

12:10 PM, January 15, 2011  
Anonymous Dani @ Moderate Oven said...

Melissa, the lemon yogurt cake is one of the best foods of all time, ever. I'm delurking to comment after reading this blog for four years, because I feel so strongly about it! Your bookclub sounds like fun.

Really bummed about BA, Molly.

6:15 PM, January 15, 2011  
Blogger Marji said...

I live at high altitude and am embarrassed to admit that split pea soup kicks my butt. Even when I think I have the freshest dried peas that are possible to obtain, even after I soak the peas for 24 hours, even when I simmer for five or six hours or leave it all day in a crock pot, the peas do not all break down and litter the soup with hard bits and the experience leaves me feeling so defeated by a pea. I love split pea soup and although I shouldn't be keeping track of something like this, of the six attempts to make it, I have failed five times and I don't know what I did differently the one time I succeeded. I'll keep trying even though my self-esteem takes such a beating because watching my skinny 9-year-old slurp down two bowls and ask for more out weighs the failures.

10:17 AM, January 16, 2011  
Anonymous Victoria said...

What a perfect meal for a normal day! PS. my coffee never seems brewed right either, perhaps we should seek lessons on that;)

11:56 AM, January 16, 2011  
Anonymous Onion Republic said...

I have some ham/ Coca Cola stock that I am going to use as my base along with some freshly-smoked bacon. Yum! Thanks for the guidelines :)

10:22 AM, January 17, 2011  
Blogger Nancy said...

I made this soup over the weekend and it was fabulous. Since I made it on a whim I didn't have Benton's (will try it next time, though), so I used Applegate Farms' smoked and uncured country ham (sold as a prepackaged slice). The apple cider vinegar at the end is the perfect finishing touch.

8:19 AM, January 18, 2011  
Blogger Sean said...

Great recipe, I slow simmered for 4 hours and added water as needed to keep it from getting too thick. I also added 7 oz ham. In the end it finished creamy, well bodied, and the apple cider vinegar coupled with the salt helped season it better than salt alone. Thanks, this used to be my least favorite soup, but I could eat this everyday.

8:29 PM, January 18, 2011  
Anonymous Gemma said...

Oh, thanks for the ham tip - I am in search of a nice smoky ham and will be ordering up one of these! We were a big fan of Murcer's hams, but sadly, they have stopped their business because of illness. We love split pea soup here and I will second someone's recommendation also for the Cook's Illustrated version - it is sublime!

1:45 PM, January 19, 2011  
Anonymous 2bnMaine said...

Thanks for all your great ideas!

I love split pea soup. I often add a bit of dry Sherry at the end. And saute sliced kielbasa, then chop, and add to soup when I serve it.

But will definitely try vinegar next time.

3:30 PM, January 19, 2011  
Blogger Bronwen said...

I love split pea soup, too, and can't wait to try this one! I have been making this yellow split pea soup all fall and winter -- LOVE it. You can skip the kale and tomatoes for simplicity, but try this one: http://lulupatina.blogspot.com/2009/11/fall-soup-yellow-split-pea.html

9:19 PM, January 19, 2011  
Blogger Gaylene Meyer said...

My grandmother made split pea soup almost exactly like this but added barley. Adds a wonderful nutty flavor and nice texture.

8:51 PM, January 21, 2011  
Blogger Anna Muzzin said...

Molly, you inspired me to make split pea soup - something I hated as a kid. I didn't have any ham around so tried a vegetarian recipe from "Love Soup" for Finnish Pea and Apple soup - delicious. Thank you!

7:46 AM, January 23, 2011  
Blogger Cristin said...

@Marji-when I lived at high altitude, I cooked all my peas & beans in a pressure cooker. It seems daunting at first but you get used to it. Definitely worth the investment!

10:21 AM, January 24, 2011  
Anonymous sarah dapcevich said...


if the split pea binge is still in effect, you might consider giving this recipe a whirl. i use organic canadian split peas (bought in the bulk section). my daughter recently asked if i would make it for her birthday dinner, it's that good: http://www.thesatedpalate.com/2010/10/tis-autumn.html

10:56 PM, January 24, 2011  
Blogger Cindy said...

I love your blog and your recipes. I'm aching to try this recipe, but found the shipping on the ham outweighed the cost of the ham! Do you have any recommendations for substitutions? I'm in Washington State. Thanks for a wonderful blog!

4:50 AM, January 27, 2011  
Blogger calhoun said...

Molly, I am always a little confused by recipes that call for first cooking a piece of meat (in this case, the ham slice),then leaving it in the pan and sauteeing some vegetables. My dutch oven is not large enough to allow this...the meat takes up most, if not all, of the space. Is there any reason why I can't remove the meat after it is browned, then adding it back in after the vegetables are cooked?

I know this is a very basic technique question, but would really appreciate an answer as I see many recipes which present this conundrum. Thanks!

8:02 AM, February 07, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Calhoun, yes, you can definitely take out the ham and put it back in later. But just so you know, the ham takes up a lot of room in my (5-quart) Dutch oven, too, and it's not been a problem: it's pretty thin and floppy, and I just stir it around with the vegetables. Hope that helps!

6:07 PM, February 09, 2011  
Anonymous Sammie said...

I can honestly say I have never tried split pea soup and have always stayed away from it despite my love for peas. I will have to give this recipe a chance!

9:53 AM, February 10, 2011  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Hiya Molly -- made this tonight; absolutely scrumptious. And pretty killer too in our current round of Eating Down the Fridge/Pantry/Chest Freezer. Thanks!

8:51 PM, February 10, 2011  
Anonymous BobT said...

Being half French Canadian I was raised on pea soup and ham. I make it on a regular basis and prefer using my own instincts. Your recipe is very much what I use including some local, Vermont ham whenever possible. I have taken to adding some diced celery and it seems to add more of the flavor that I remember growing up.

6:26 AM, February 16, 2011  
Blogger Scrabblegrrl said...

Here in Norman OK, I too have been having a split pea binge this winter. Instead of ham, I prefer just using chicken stock for part or all of the water. I sometimes add celery, sometimes parsley, sometimes a bay leaf. In January my binge morphed into lentil soup--same ingredients and techniques, but sometimes adding garlic. Nothing gets me through an afternoon of OKC teaching like leftover split pea soup at lunch (works better than lentil, but why?). Well, guess I'll get into the kitchen right now, where there is a fresh bag of split peas on the island!

7:40 AM, February 19, 2011  
Blogger plseyw said...

My Benton ham just arrived today and I can hardly wait to make this soup!

5:33 AM, February 25, 2011  
Anonymous Ena said...

I made this without any ham and it was so good and hearty! It's a shame it takes 90-120 minutes to cook it but otherwise it's a really great meal!

2:43 PM, March 19, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly -

Help! this is the second time I have made this soup, and have loved it both times, but both times it cooked for FOUR HOURS before the peas were mooshy. I didn't add salt as I know this can slow down the peas softening but am wondering if you have any insight? Maybe cooking on too low a heat? Should it be a simmer or a low boil? Love the blog, love the book!

8:52 PM, March 21, 2011  
Blogger calhoun said...

I am a bit disappointed in this recipe. I made it exactly as written, including the Benton's country ham (by mail order, a pricey way to get an ingredient), and it just seems kind of boring. The ham is absolutely delicious on its own, but in my opinion is kind of wasted in the soup.

Sorry, Molly!....I love most of your recipes.

7:19 AM, March 29, 2011  
Blogger Eva said...

I love your blog! And split pea soup is one of my all-time faves!

I like to mix it up and use either vegetable or chicken stock instead of water, as it makes it more flavorful without confusing the taste of the soup.

I also add fresh thyme, bay leaf, rosemary,and potatoes, which makes it heartier.

Here's my version:


6:25 AM, April 29, 2011  

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