A few weeks ago my sister and I were chatting about her kids’ disdain for any type of meat. The girls, 3 ½ and 2, refuse to eat any form of animal protein except for hot dogs. There’s no chicken, fish, beef, or turkey tasting happening at their table, and I can see that as the main meal maker she’s beginning to feel frustrated.
I suggested she try offering them ham. Not that I think that’s in any way a superior replacement for poultry or fish, but I have yet to meet a kid that didn’t like ham. Ham and cheese sandwiches are popular for a reason, right? I know that with my own kids, if I make a soup they’re less than crazy about and add some bacon or ham to the pot, it’s devoured much more easily than if the meat was missing altogether.
Which brings me to my new favourite slow cooker recipe. I’ve long been a lover of split pea soup, with or without the ham, but seeing as we’re entering ham-serving season (side note: why do we almost only ever eat ham at the holidays or for Sunday supper?) this a great family-friendly recipe to keep tucked in your back pocket for weekend lunches or a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
After you’re finished serving your ham supper, reserve the bone and keep it for soup. If you don’t feel like making it right away, it will keep in the fridge for a few days. Alternatively, you can easily purchase ham hocks from most butchers so if you don’t happen to have ham on menu plan for the coming week, feel free to use one of those in place of the reserved bone.
Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham
4 cups chicken broth
5 cups boiling water
1 ham hock or ham bone
1 cup diced ham
1 lb. green or yellow split peas
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
3 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Place the chicken stock and boiling water in a 5-6 qt. slow cooker. Add the ham bone, ham, split peas, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, and bay leaf.
Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the split peas are soft.
Remove the ham bone, thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Stir the soup and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, if desired. Shred any meat from the ham bone or hock and return it to the slow cooker, adding it back into the soup.
Serve the soup as is, or puree for a smooth texture.
Note: This soup is thick and stocky, which is how I like it. If you prefer a thinner soup, feel free to add more water or chicken stock to the slo