I LOVE peas. Peas are the one vegetable that I can have as a go-to meal. When I was younger I’d stick extra frozen peas in my cup of noodles! Surprisingly, I’ve only made split pea soup twice in my life. One time was a couple years ago following Alton Brown’s recipe and tonight was my second time. This time I used my brand new Thomas Keller Ad Hoc cookbook. My bestest got it for me and even got it signed by the MAN himself!
What I’m telling you is that my experience making split pea soup is limited! My old roomie told me how her coworker would make split pea soup with the leftover ham hock and how much she loved it. As I skimmed through all of the soups in the Ad Hoc book, I noticed Thomas Keller uses ham hock too! My curiousity peakened…but where do I buy ham hock?! I don’t want to wait for a major holiday. I don’t want ❤ and I to have to eat ham for a whole week to get to the hock! While grocery shopping for pancetta we found ham hock for sale next to all of the bacon! How exciting, it's time for me to start cooking!
This is my second time following a recipe out of the Ad Hoc cookbook. I must say, most of the recipes are really easy to follow and don't involve complicated ingredients. I mean ingredients that you're thinking, "huh? where can I buy this?" or "the only thing I can make with XX ingredient is this recipe!!!" so you end up with leftover ingredients that go to waste. I hate that!
The broth took over two hours to make. This involved sweating the carrots, leeks and onions with oil for 45 minutes. Afterwards, you put chicken broth and the ham hock in the pot and simmer for another 45 minutes. A new technique that I learned was the parchment lid, where you cut a piece of parchment that is the same size as a lid. You use this instead of the regular lid because you want to allow some steam out but not all of the moisture! Cheap and easy trick! You're also supposed to let the broth cool because the split peas will cook better when you start with cold broth. So I decided to continue cooking the next day.
The next day I added the split peas and ham hock in the soup to simmer for an hour. Here's the ham hock before I put it back in the soup!
This is what the soup looked like as the split peas started breaking apart:
While it was cooking I blanched the green peas. I didn’t buy fresh english peas because I wasn’t sure how much I needed. Also, Alton Brown says that fresh peas’ sweetness diminishes as soon as you take the peas off the stalk, so why even bother if I’m not going to use the peas hours after they have been picked? Well, that’s my justification for using frozen peas 😛 Thomas Keller blanches the peas to keep the peas nice and green.
Finally, I pureed the soup in the blender. Thomas Keller warns to fill the blender 1/3 full, otherwise the soup will splatter. I wasn’t paying attention when I added the second batch to blend and boy was Keller right! Luckily I covered the blender lid with a paper towel to avoid any possible splatter, score for me! I chopped the ham hock, added salt, red wine vinegar, peas and the creme fraiche.
And the final result? No offense to Alton Brown’s soup, but Keller’s soup was really good! You can taste the smokiness of the ham hock in the soup. The bits of ham hock and peas gave the soup more depth rather than eating baby food. The best part is that we have leftovers!!! YAY
Here’s the soup! The white bits are the creme fraiche that I just stirred in!