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Tasty Tuesdays: Split Pea Soup (don't be scared)

If you ‘ve ever bought one of those spiral-sliced hams, you know how  easy and good they are. The slices come off so nicely—well, up to a  point. Then the thing starts looking pitiful.


There’s a lot of meat left on there, you’re thinking. But how do you use it?

What would Grandma do? She’d make soup out of it. Fer Sure. And what goes with ham? Beans!

Now, when the Damsel has talked to people about using and rotating  their food storage, she has noticed there is a Great Fear of Beans out  there. Bean Fear stalks the land. Dry beans don’t look, smell, or taste  like food. They don’t even sound like food. And the usual methods for  turning those hard little lumps into something edible are  time-consuming. She has seen grown women tremble at the thought of  having to live on dry beans.

So we’ll take a baby step toward conquering our Bean Fear. The  answer: Split Pea Soup. Split peas are great, because you can eat them  the same day that you take them out of your cupboard. You can be eating  them only 2-3 hours later.

Split peas and ham are like Raggedy Ann and Andy. They go together.  And if you have tried split pea soup in the past and thought it was  nasty green paste and no thank you, try it again made with a meaty  hambone.

Grandma knew that making soup out of bones was not only a way to use  what she had and not be wasteful, but that it would make her soup taste a  quantum leap better than soup made without a bone.

Okay so maybe she wouldn’t have thought “quantum leap.” But you get the idea.

Split peas are a humble little food. They store well (like forever)  and they’re cheap. So if you’re afraid of beans, come along. The Damsel  will hold your hand.


The Damsel measured these, just to find out how many cups of split  peas are in a pound. This is two pounds of peas, measuring just over 4  cups. So Grandma’s saying holds true in this case:

“A pint’s a pound, the world around.” Repeat three times or until it’s burned into your memory.

If you recall that a pint = 2 cups, you’ll know there are 4 cups of  peas in a 2 lb. bag without having to measure. Or convert another recipe  that calls for pounds instead of cups. Or the other way around.

Useful little saying. It doesn’t work for everything but it’s a great rule of thumb.


Here’s what we’ll use. Just this, plus the raggedy ham bone. Pull off  all the bits of ham you can and set aside. If there are any big bits,  chop them until you have roughly bite size pieces of ham. Don’t worry if  you leave some behind. It will add flavor to the soup.

Chop the onions and carrots into bite size pieces too. Rinse the  split peas and pick out any stray bits of gravel or weird stuff you  might see.


Put 4 quarts of water in a large pot. (You can decrease the water a cup or two for a thicker consistency)

Now here’s the beautiful part. Don’t you love it when the recipe says  “combine all ingredients?” Put the hambone in, and then dump in the ham  pieces, split peas, onions, and carrots.


You’re thinking this looks weird. But this will turn into food! Have faith!
Put in some salt. Don’t be shy. The ham will add saltiness but yes, salt.


Put the lid on and let this simmer about two hours. This is a very low maintenance soup.

Over the two hours, the split peas absorb water and everything gets  really friendly in the pot. When the carrots and onions are soft and the  peas have no bite left to them, it’s done. Just take the weird hambone  out and save for your favorite canine.


Note: Carrots are optional in this soup. The Damsel’s mom always put  them in to add color and nutrition, and often scooped them out when they  were done, blended them up, and poured them back in. You could do that.  Or you can just leave them. It’s good either way.

Some people, especially the sprog type, will be afraid of this soup  at first–maybe because of the color. If you can get past that, it’s  really delicious. Especially with lots of pepper. Yes. Pepper. Yessssss.


While eating this you’ll feel smart, thrifty, and healthy. How many foods have so much to give?


Margot  is a  mom of seven and pretty much crazy from it. Online she's known as  the  Damsel in Dis Dress and blogs at the Old School ( and twitters at @the_damsel.
A blog about her writing adventures is found at Inklings.

Enjoy shopping for quality baby clothing at

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