Yellow split peas have a more delicate flavor and prettier color than their green cousin but either one creates a hearty soup that draws a lot of flavor and meat from smoked ham hocks. Letting the finished soup sit or “cure” in the refrigerator for a couple of days will continue to improve the flavor.
- 1 pound golden or green split peas
- 3 whole carrots
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 large onion
- 2 pounds smoked ham hocks
- 4 tablespoons bacon drippings or butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 slices cooked bacon
Combine the peas, carrots, celery and onion in a large stockpot. Add water just to cover and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam. Add the ham hocks and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 hours until the peas almost disintegrate and the meat on ham hocks falls away easily. Remove the hocks and let cool. Pull the meat from the bone and return to the soup.
In a small skillet, heat the bacon drippings over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Continue whisking and cooking until the flour has a nutty fragrance and is light golden in color. Add the garlic and cook for one additional minute. Stir the mixture and bacon, if desired, into the soup and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Note: If desired, puree this to a silky smooth consistency using a blender and working in batches. Additional water may be added sparingly to thin the soup.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.