Dutch Split Pea Soup

You might not guess it at first, but these are dried peas. Don’t they look inviting… Promising loads of nutrients and sweetness packed into their compact dehydrated form?

No? Is that just me?… Well, be that as it may, I’ve been remiss not to post this sooner. Our area has been repeatedly deluged with snow. Historic quantities, they say. We haven’t lived here long, but it does seem to be quite a lot. And we’ve been spending an unnatural amount of time in this cold, wet stuff while house-hunting every weekend in nearby Fredrick County. It’s hard work but someone has to help stimulate the economy by buying a house, right? Why not us.

So while doing our part for the economy (“You’re welcome.”), we often come home cold and hungry. What you really want when you feel this way is something waiting for you at home that’s hearty, and hot. Some rib-sticking goodness that warms you up from the inside out. One of our favorites is from the New York Cookbook by Molly O’Neill — a Dutch-style split pea soup with the astounding name of Snert. I’ve adapted this recipe to be prepared in a slow-cooker in two parts, first to make the broth, then to make the soup. Remember that ham bone from the guava-glazed ham we had for Christmas? It’s been biding its time in the freezer until now, waiting to provide its supporting role in this soup.

So let’s get cooking…

(adapted from New York Cookbook by Molly O’Neill)
Serves 6-8 persons

For the broth:
1 ham bone
2 smoked ham hocks
4 ribs of celery, or half of a medium celery root, aka celeriac
1 large onion studded with 3 spice cloves
2 large bay leaves
2 large carrots
6-10 whole black peppercorns
2 blades of mace
4 quarts/liters cold water (Note: if you’re not finishing the soup in a slow-cooker, use 3 qts/L water. I’ve learned to start with more water when making dried pulses and beans in a slow-cooker because I usually use the slow-cooker when I DON’T want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen (I know, but it happens) and bean/pulse soups have a way of thickening when you’re not paying attention)

Place all broth ingredients in 6qt/L slow-cooker. Turn on LOW for 8-10 hours. Skim surface of broth to remove impurities as they rise.

Remove ham bone and hocks, separate meat from bones. Strain broth into clean non-reactive container, return meat to broth and cool completely. (You can start this process the night before and in the morning strain the broth and add the dried peas directly into the still warm broth. This will reduce your cooking time by a couple of hours.)

Finish the Soup:
1 lb/455g dried green split peas, washed well and picked over to remove small pebbles
other half of celery root, if using (optional)
sea salt to taste
1-1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 lb/455g smoked sausage such as kielbasa
1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, minced (about 1 cup)

Return broth to slow-cooker. Taste for seasoning and add sea salt as needed, and pepper. Add split peas, stir well, and set on LOW for 7-8 hours, or on HIGH for 4 hours if you want soup sooner.

Meanwhile, slice kielbasa into rounds and pan-fry until nicely browned and cooked through. Set aside until needed.

Check soup consistency about three-quarters of the way through cooking time — it should be thick but loose, not a dense mash. If it is thickening more quickly than expected, you can add a half cup of boiling water to the pot to keep it going for a little longer. Or if you’re ready to dine, go ahead and turn the cooker off. Stir in the parsley, and taste for seasoning. Add most of the kielbasa (I reserve a few pieces to garnish the soup).

Serve with your favorite bread, ours is Bruschetta, of course. And yes, that’s olive oil drizzled over the top, too… just because. Does this look like something that would make you forget even something being billed as “Snowpocalypse”? Here’s what we could see…

This was T. taking on the Sisyphean task of keeping up with the falling snow
in the middle of the first storm we got in December,
which was record-breaking for its time…

The next morning, still more shovelling!…

Now fast forward to February, and earlier this month: more snow.
Lots more. It kept coming all night and day.

And when it stopped, it really stopped. For good. We hope.
(The fence is almost 4 ft. high)