I like to make this when the weather gets cold. It’s cheap eats, but good! The ham hocks come in packages of three or four (also sold as “smoked pork hocks.”) The trick is to put them in individual freezer bags and freeze them, so you always have them on hand. You can defrost them in the microwave. This is an easy and delicious soup.
1 lb. bag dried green split peas, rinsed
1 TBS olive oil
1 smoked ham hock, about a pound
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
8 cups chicken stock
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
In a cast iron Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium high heat and brown the ham hock on all sides for about five minutes (I use tongs.). Remove the ham hock to a plate. Put the onion and garlic in the pot and sauté for about five minutes. Don’t burn them. Add the carrots, and stir for a minute or two. Then add the chicken stock, half of the split peas and the thyme. Return the ham hock to the pot. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, partially cover, and let it get happy for about an hour.
Skim the foam off the top. Remove the ham hock to a plate. If you have an immersible blender this is where it shines. Purée the soup until it is nearly smooth. You can also do this in the blender. Add the remaining split peas and return the ham hock. Simmer for about an hour or until the split peas are tender. I take the ham hock out about ten minutes before the soup is done to let it cool. I cut it up into small pieces, discarding the fatty pieces. Put the ham hock pieces back in the soup for a few minutes to reheat. Serve soup with crusty bread, oyster crackers, or croutons. Enjoy!
(Photos by R.L. Floyd, 2022)