Split Pea Soup with Ham and Skillet Cornbread
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Fall has definitely gotten me into a soup frame of mind. I love one pot meals that I can throw together early in the day, and then clean up and high-tail it out of the kitchen. Some days, I enjoy spending hours and hours in there and others, I want to be back at my blog. Or anywhere but there.
This split pea soup is super fast to throw together. It has a lot of flavor and I like it with some texture, instead of whirred into a cream. If you want to do that at the end, your call.
My husband is a cornbread freak, and this recipe is easy and fast and comes out well every time. Whatever he doesn’t finish during the week goes to the “girls” out in the coop. They love corn!
Did you want to hear something weird? You’ll probably think this is gross, but it is what it is.
Because we live way out in the country, we only have garbage collection twice a month. We have occasional bears, frequent raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and even a rare cougar around here. I always trim my chicken, whether it be the skin, or the bones or the weird tendon thingie in chicken tenders. I hate the crunch you get with those tendons! Ugh. So I just take my trusty kitchen scissors and cut off the widest part of the tendon, maybe an inch long. I looked it up and Google said “Here is the trick: You take that tough little tendon out of the chicken tenderloin by laying the tenderloin on the counter, tendon side down. You then grab the end of the tendon with a towel and slide your knife under it at a 20 degree angle.” Hmmm… I’ll have to try that.
Anyway, I’ve always been grossed out by having to work with raw chicken, so considering the fact that we eat it on about 20 of 21 nights a week, you’d think I’d be over that, by now. No; no such luck. Still grossed out.
Well, back in the day, when we lived in town, I wouldn’t freeze my “chicken guts,” as I like to call them. They just went into the trash bags like everything else. One day, the temperatures were in the high 80’s and, well, I don’t want to completely kill your appetite – let’s just say from that day on, I’ve been freezing chicken trimmings. Now that we’re in the country, I also freeze anything remotely appealing to our local wildlife. Bears love sweets, so any leftovers that are sweet get stuck in the freezer until garbage day. I also freeze anything that has oil in it, for instance, the paper towels I use to wipe down my pans before washing with soapy water (or the in case of cast iron, just hot water).
Needless to say, this can create quite a bit of trash being stored in our precious (and overfilled) freezers. So, I thought I’d try something and take my chicken trimmings, wrap them up in some paper towels and nuke them until cooked through. Then I’d put that in the compost/cookie jar on the counter and give to the chickens, along with vegetable trimmings and what have you.
When I feed them, I always take mental notes on which things they prefer to eat. And number one? You guessed it – cooked chicken trimmings. So weird.
Life in the country can be very peculiar.
Anyway, back to the soup. You can easily double the recipe and throw in whatever amounts of the ingredients you like. It freezes really well in a freezer bag laid flat on your lined cookie sheet and the next day, you can put it (with the date) in your “Freezer File.” Some night when you’re fighting a cold or not feeling like cooking, it’ll be there, ready to thaw and warm up. Yum.
Split Pea Soup with Ham and Vegetables
One yellow onion, chopped (I like sweet onions)
1 T minced garlic
1 c dried, rinsed split peas
6 c chicken broth (you may need more, later)
salt and pepper AT THE END
Ham, chopped OR kielbasa, sliced. You can always use bacon, instead (or in addition?) but personally, soggy bacon sounds pretty disgusting. If using bacon, I would crisp it up and add at the very last minute before serving.
If you are using kielbasa, you may want to saute the slices beforehand, in order to give them a nice, crispy exterior. If this is the case, saute the sliced kielbasa in the stock pot/dutch oven on medium high in a tiny amount of oil. Then remove from the pot and move on to cooking the onions.
Put your peas in a sieve and run cold water over them. Kind of stir around with your finger and check to make sure there aren’t any tiny stones in there. Ouch! Your dentist with the daughter heading to Stanford would be the only one approving of that!
Pour a generous amount of olive oil into the bottom of a dutch oven or large stock pot, set on low (4 on a scale of 1 to 10). Throw the chopped onions into the pot. Stir occasionally, making sure the onion doesn’t start to brown. Add chopped carrots and celery and cook until onion is soft and translucent.
Add your garlic and stir about 30 seconds. You don’t want it to become bitter, so only 30 seconds to a minute, please.
Now add your chicken broth and the split peas and turn up to high, just long enough for it to come to a boil. Immediately reduce to simmer. You can add your chopped ham or regular kielbasa at this point. It should lend a nice smokiness to the soup. I did discover this, though: If you are using full fat kielbasa, it will withstand hours on the stovetop. It will also add LOTS of saltiness! So I would suggest you don’t salt anything until it’s time to eat. Now, when using turkey kielbasa: it does not stand up to hours on the stovetop, because it has much less fat than regular. By the end of the afternoon, it will get tough and chewy. I would add that, browned, only when it’s time to eat.
Put the lid on, leaving a bit of the pot uncovered. Have the soup at a simmer. Every so often, take a peek under the lid, just to make sure it’s not boiling away or is on too low a heat. Give it a good stir occasionally, with a flat bottomed wooden utensil or good rubber spatula. You want to make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom.
If, at any time during the day, you feel too much water is evaporating, feel free to add more chicken broth. How thick you like your final soup is entirely up to you. I do find that it tends to thicken a bit when it cools, so keep that in mind. When ready to eat, taste and adjust salt and pepper.
That’s it! In a few hours, you should be able to serve it in nice, nuked bowls.
I’d credit the author of this recipe, but it is super old and I really haven’t a clue. Sorry, author! For this recipe, I use an 8 inch cast iron skillet, because I love cast iron. If you don’t have one, no sweat. Use a brownie pan, instead. If you’re interested in getting an 8″ cast iron skillet, here’s an Amazon link:
½ c butter, plus 1 T for the pan
¾ c all purpose flour
¾ c yellow cornmeal
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp soda
½ tsp salt
1 c buttermilk (you can substitute 1 c milk (minus 1 T milk) and add 1 T lemon juice; just let stand til lumpy, maybe 5 minutes)
Preheat oven to 400°.
Into a small microwaveable bowl or 1 c measuring cup, plop in ½ c (1 cube) butter. Cover the butter with the butter wrapper, so it doesn’t make a mess of your microwave. Or cover your measuring cup with a paper towel, tucked underneath the dish. Nuke long enough to melt, then allow to cool. In my microwave, this is about 30 seconds.
If you don’t have buttermilk, measure out 1 cup milk and add 1 T lemon juice. Stir, then let it sit for 5 minutes, until lumpy.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt and mix well.
In another medium bowl, mix together buttermilk and eggs. Stir briskly with a fork, to break down the eggs and mix well. Now add the cooled, melted butter to the buttermilk/egg mixture.
Pour the flour mixture INTO the liquid and gently mix until JUST COMBINED – don’t overmix!!
Add 1 T butter into your pan and place in the preheated oven. Careful! This takes only seconds, so keep an eye on it, so the butter doesn’t brown. Remove from oven as soon as the butter is melted.
Pour your cornbread mix into the warm skillet and bake 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Get out the butter and enjoy!
Cheers – Vicky