Winter time is soup time. Here's a traditional ham-based split pea soup. Coming soon, a vegetarian version.
Split Pea Soup with Ham
(serves 4-6; total cost is $5.15)
1 tbl butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut in half lengthwise then into ¼" slices
1 pound dried green split peas, picked over
1 smoked ham hock (about 1/2 pound)
2 ½ quarts water
1 bay leaf
1 cup diced cooked ham
salt, to taste
1 tsp or more black pepper
Melt butter in a large soup kettle over medium-low and cook onions and carrots, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add split peas, water, ham hock, and bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. If soup gets too thick, add 1 to 2 cups more water. Cook until split peas are very tender, for about 2 hours. Discard bay leaf. Add ham meat to kettle and simmer soup, stirring, until heated through. Season with generously with salt and pepper. Serve.
If you like a creamier soup, take a couple of cups of the soup after you have discarded the bay leaf and puree them in a blender. Add the pureed soup back to the pot and add the ham. If you don't have a blender, you can use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to schmush up the peas a bit.