Monday, January 21, 2019

OLD Recipe---Ham & Pea Soup and a bit of history.

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OLD Recipe and a bit of Food History

In researching for my novel series---yes, I'm writing a novel series for over 10 years, I spent a great deal of time on the availability and the diet of the early 1800's. While, dried legumes have been in use for thousands of did our early Americans utilize what they had available? Soups were a staple in the homes of the rich and poor. In wealthier homes, soup was viewed as a way of teasing the palate for what was to come in the main courses, but for the humble folk---it was hearty, warming meal.

Upstate New York in 1817 had the advantage of lush farms, seasonal fruits, fresh water fish, and the proverbial pig which grazed anywhere it wanted to, with a string of piglets tagging along behind it. Fences were not designed to keep anything in, but to keep roaming pigs and cows from consuming everyone's backyard garden. Each home had a garden, from the stone lined pathways of intricate walks, to staved small kitchen gardens behind the humblest hovel, and of course a shelter for a pig and her piglets. Scraps were fed to the pigs---and it was the GREEN way to deal with otherwise icky kitchen waste that might attract rodents or worse.


In the Outlander series, Diana Galbadon uses the huge 'white sow', as a humorous break from what was hard times for the Frasers' saga. The pig was known for her ferocity and fecundity. The Frasers' sow produced mass bundles of little piglets, and so was kept far too long, despite her ornery personality and totally owning the space under the house. I finished book 8 (spoiler alert) and she was still there.

Anyway, in 1800's America these animals were butchered, smoked, rendered for their fat, roasted, fried, made into sausages and every last bit of the animal was used. Hence the marriage of legumes and pork/ham. Dried legumes peas, beans, lentils and rice were healthy and stable additions to the table.

My recipe, is not unlike what would have been served at the Fraser's table or at the Governor's table. I have been making soups for over 50 years now---and this is always been our winter favorite.

Soak the Peas overnite, or hurry in microwave or on the stove.

Ham and Split Pea Soup-OLD style, except I use a 6 quart crockpot instead of a kettle over the fire.

Hambones from a 10# smoked butt ham (on sale $6.90) I used 1/8 of this or say $1.00 worth with the bones.
2/3 cup of gelled juice from the roaster bottom, (after skimming fat off)
1/2 cup of coarsely chopped ham bits skin/ham/fat
2 cups of chopped celery (50 cents)
2 large onions (whatever you have) chopped coarsely (1.00)
1# bag of split peas (soaked overnight or boiled, in 2 quarts of water and let sit. (sale $1.40)
3/4# of carrots sliced or diced. (60 cents)
2 cups of diced potatoes (I leave the skins on for fiber and minerals) (50 cents)
4-6 quarts of water----free (we have well water)
1 teaspoon of dried chopped bay leaves or 4 whole ones(remove after cooking.)
2 heaping teaspoon dried marjoram
1 heaping Tablespoon of dried parsley/cilantro
3/4 teaspoon of coarse ground pepper

After rinsing, soak 1# dried peas in 2 quarts of hot water overnight. I cheat and place in microwave for 8 min on high, and then let sit while I prepare the rest of my ingredients.

In frypan, fry the ham bits and fat until lightly browned, add chopped onions and celery. Fry until glistening-add one cup of water to deglaze pan. Pour all this into crock pot with the hambones, and 2 quarts of water. Add the gelled juice from the ham roaster (this is your salt) Turn on high.

Add bayleaf, marjoram, parsley/cilantro (garlic is optional) and pepper. Cover.

Let cook on high for 3-4 hours, or medium for 6-8, until meat has fallen off the bones remove bones and large pieces of meat. Chop meat and add with diced fresh carrots and potatoes. Cook an additional 1-2 hours until carrots and potatoes are soft.

(If you are working you can add the potatoes and carrots in the beginning, they will just be blended into the soup.)

Optional: I always add an acid at the end, either lemon juice 3-4 Tblsp. or 2 tablespoons of a white wine vinegar. This kicks up the flavor without adding additional salt. Do this to taste.

Remove half the soup or I use my NEW inversion blender to cream my soup, or in your blender/chopper to cream half of the soup. We like our soup a bit chunky---so blending half gives it a nice texture.

Enjoy hot with a small dollop of butter or sour cream and some crusty rye bread.

10# Butt Ham after roasting. Bones are already in the crockpot. We have already had one meal from this delicious ham. (I never buy a spiral ham, we find they are dry after baking). Ham is one of the most versatile of meats, great for breakfasts, lunch and dinner.

Frying the ham bits with a tiny bit of fat. 

chopping celery

Onions ready to chop.

Browning the veggies until translucent.

Simple seasonings, Marjoram from our garden, Bay Leaves, Cilantro/or Parsley, pepper.

Add gelled juices from the roaster minus the fat-this provides the salt.

Combine it all-add soaked peas and water.

Simmer in crockpot 3-4 hours on high, or 6-8 on medium, covered.

 Remove the bones and cool, strip meat, chop and add back in to pot.

Chop carrots and potatoes and add.

This filled the crockpot back up!

Simmer an additional 1-2hours--until veggies are done. Add lemon juice or wine vinegar at this stage.
Cream half the soup with blender of your choice.

We enjoy this with thick crusty rye bread, for a winter supper.

Ham and Pea soup is extremely economical. From the 10# ham, we have meat for 6 meals for 2, and soup for 5 meals for two. (22 servings) Total cost roughly--11.00 or roughly 50 cents per meal. Healthy, hearty, economical, and delicious. This freezes so well. 

Feel FREE to copy my recipe, which is mine---from my head.

What's your favorite winter meal? 

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