I’m not sure why I wanted to make this soup last week but I’m glad I did. Maybe I got a taste for it when the hot, humid streak finally ended and we had a taste of some fall weather. I used to make this years ago and then I lost the recipe. I jotted down what I could remember on a little piece of paper and that’s what I use to jog my memory.
Meathead loves split pea soup and, unfortunately, he buys cans of the chunky, gloppy kind to satisfy his craving. I don’t make split pea soup often at all, usually around a holiday if I have a leftover ham bone. But you know, it’s not hard to make and so I’m going to start making it again. In addition to split peas, my version has lentils. It’s good for you, satisfying and the smoky bacon and ham hock gives it incredible flavor.
I start with bacon, and then soften and lightly brown some vegetables in the drippings for the base. I use homemade chicken stock, a smoked ham hock for more smoky flavor and shredded potato to thicken it up. It only needs about an hour to simmer for the split peas and lentils to become tender. When the soup is done, you can chop up any meat from the ham hock and add it back in. My smoked ham hock gave the soup a ton of flavor but no meat to be had. I think that’s why I prefer a meaty ham bone if I have one. But it’s delicious just the same, with the bacon and no more extra meat.
I started with 6 cups of chicken stock. After awhile it seemed too thick so I added another cup. I think maybe the original recipe I had might have called for 8 cups of stock. So I am going to have to say 6 – 8 cups of chicken stock is needed. Sorry for not being 100 per cent sure on this.
Split peas and lentils, great combo for soup. We had it for dinner with some crusty bread and then again for lunch the next day. And, of course, it was even better the next day. So even if it’s not a holiday or you don’t have a leftover ham bone, don’t let that stop you from making this terrific and hearty soup. It’s what comfort food is all about.
Split Pea and Lentil Soup
About 4-6 servings
- 3 pieces thick cut bacon, chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup finely chopped leeks (white and light green parts only, rinsed well to remove any sand)
- 1/4 cup chopped celery and leaves
- 1/2 cup dried split peas and 1/2 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 6 – 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 1/2 russet potato, shredded
- 1-2 bay leaves (depending on size)
- about 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot, cook bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Reserve about a tablespoon or so of fat in the pot.
- Add onion, carrot and leeks to pot. Sprinkle with some salt and cook until vegetables have softened and lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in bay leaves and thyme, and then add the split peas and lentils, celery and reserved bacon. Cover with the chicken stock. Add the shredded potato and ham hock, season with more salt and some pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover with lid slightly askew.
- Skim any foam that rises to the surface during the first 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally and simmer for another 45 minutes or until the split peas and lentils are tender. Add more stock if the soup seems too thick.
- Remove ham hock, cool slightly and cut up any meat and add back to the soup. Don’t worry if you don’t have any good meat to use.
- Check for seasoning and serve.