This is going to sound contrived, but one of the great joys of cooking is a dish turning out better than you ever would have expected.
The idea of making split pea soup dawned on me as I was making my collard greens on a cool and rainy day, so I decided to save my ham hock and pot likker to use in it. The only other ingredients I used were split peas, water, and salt, but together they yielded the best soup I have ever made. (And I love to make soup.)
The lesson to be learned here, I think, is that really taking the time to suck all the flavor out of off-cut of meat can yield spectacular results. So I’ll definitely be trying more ways to utilize ham hocks and sharing them with you as I do. Your suggestions are welcome. (And maybe next time, I won’t bookend a Jewish holiday with two pork recipes. Sorry about that, guys!)
Now, onto the soup:
This could not be easier:
Combine all ingredients in a pot and boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least two hours, but the longer the better. I cooked mine for about six, at which point all of the meat on the hock had fallen off the bone.
Feel free to add more water if you think it’s needed. The soup has a tendency to really thicken up over night, so you might also add water when you reheat it.
The quantities here are about right for one ham hock, but you could easily halve the peas and water. I just froze half of my soup for later.
And that’s it, folks. Easy as can be.
(I almost made a pea pun there, but didn’t. You can thank me later.)