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There is noting special about this recipe, I am only recording it because it turned out awesome.  It stared with a ham shank bone left over from a ham dinner the family ate.    It was a Cook’s spiral cut ham, hickory smoked and not glazed.  I used whole cloves when warming the ham; I love cloves in ham, the wife does not, what does she know about flavor?  Can’t believe we were fighting over such a thing.  She didn’t even eat any left-over sandwiches. Anyway, I only mention the cloves because I strongly feel they add another layer of goodness to this soup.

I kept the bone and part of the ham which was not sliced by Cook’s machines.  I put it in a plastic bag right away after carving up the shank to ensure I had it for the soup.  There was a good chunk of meat and skin, oh the flavor that brings.

On soup making day I gathered the following fresh materials:

1    Lbs split peas
1    cup chopped onion
1    cup chopped carrot
1    cup chopped celery
4    cloves garlic, minced
2    Tbsp unsalted butter
4    cups of chicken stock (Used Swanson in a box)
4    cups of cold tap water
1    can Swanson vegetable broth (almost 2 cups)
2    tsp dry Thyme
2    tsp cumin
3    dry bay leaves (Loral leaves)
1    large white (baking potato)
2    red potatoes

Kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

In a 8 quart stock pot I began by melting the two table spoons of butter.  Once melted I threw in the onions, carrots and celery.  I topped them with a heavy pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.  I turned down the heat to medium low, as I am just sweating the vegetables, I don’t want them to brown.

While the vegetables were doing their thing, I minced up the garlic, turned back and stirred the vegetables, and continued to mince the garlic.  Nothing like multitasking.    Once the vegetables started to soften and the onions were more translucent I through in the garlic and stirred it in.  I let that cook for a minute or so.

The pound of split peas need to be inspected for rocks and other debris (what a strange word spelling).  Once clear of crap, rinse well using a strainer.

The vegetables are looking good, so I throw in the peas and stir them in.  I remove the big chunk of ham off of the bone (the part which wasn’t sliced by Cook’s).  There is still ham on the bone, which is right next to the bone.  This meat will appear stringier.  Leave this ham on, it needs to cook in the soup.  Place the bone in the pot.

I poor the four cups of  chicken broth in along with the four cups of cold tap water.  The bone is still sticking out of the broth a bit, so I throw in a can of vegetable broth.  That looks better.  A little stir and everything is covered up.

Time for spices.  Damn, only pieces of bay leaf left.  I find six of the larger pieces (so they are easier to pick out later) and throw them in.  I am assuming it’s about three whole leafs.  Thyme, need some thyme, where the heck is it.  Can’t remember when I cooked something with Thyme.  Oh there it is, way back in the cupboard (another strange spelling for a word).  Hmmm, this stuff looks a little old.  I dump about two teaspoons in my palm and rub my hands together hoping I can get a little something out of this old stuff.  The smell is stronger, I think that will work.  Hey look, cumin, I like cumin, lets dump some in.  I dump about one-half table spoon of cumin in the pot.

Ah, now that looks like some good soup.  I turn up the heat and stir it a bit more.  Time to get this sucker up to a boil.  Once boiling, I stir again, turn the heat all the way down and put on the cover.

The soup needs to simmer like this for one hour.  There really isn’t a reason to sir it, though it can’t hurt to do it two or three time during the hour.

The hour is up, so I pull the bone out and remove all the meat from it I can.  I don’t too crazy, as I have a good chuck of meat that I saved earlier.  Once de-meated, I throw the bone back in, just in case there is any flavor it may have left to give up for us.

I cut up the meat I removed from the bone and then grab, the still cold, meat that was kept earlier (the part not cut by Cook’s spiraling equipment).  I cut this meat up into cubes, about three-eights in size.  I remove some of the larger chunks of fat, but keep some.  I also keep the skin on many of the pieces.  All good flavor.

Once the meat is cut-up, I peal and cut the potatoes into one-half inch pieces.  I just throw all thi sin the same bowl waiting to go into the pot.

It’s  been about a half hour since I took the meat off the bone.  I go fishing for it again and remove any soup stuff which may be sticking to it.  The bone goes in the trash and all the cut up meat and potatoes goes into the pot.  While stirring this in the soup seemed to have cooked down a lot.  So I throw in another two cups of water.  After doing that, one probably would have been enough, but too late now.  Still looks great, nonetheless.

I turn up the heat to get the soup back up to a boil.  There are a lot of heavy items in the soup now, all of the cooked peas and those potatoes.  If I am not careful, I could easily burn this stuff sitting on the bottom.  So it is a good idea to keep an eye on things and sir that stuff up off the bottom every once in a while.  Once the soup is getting back to a boil (just a few bubbles, I see the stuff moving) I turn the flame back down to low and stir that stuff up off the bottom.  I cover up the pot and let the potatoes cook and the ham get hot.

After about another half hour, it was done.  I took the cover off, gave it a good stir and let it sit for a while.  That soup looked tired from all that cooking.

twenty minutes later I poured a bowl, fell in love and decided to write it all down.  Boy I hope I can do this again as well.

Disclaimer: If you follow these measurements like the gospel your soup will probably suck.  There is as much gut-feeling as there are measurements into making a good soup.  Don’t keep doctoring it, and just let it do it’s thing.

By the way, I got the recipe idea for this soup from four other recipes.  I just took the pieces I wanted and used them.  Soup rules are so simple 🙂

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