Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Waste a Good Ham Bone? Never!

My father was one of so many siblings, I can’t even name them all for fear I will forget somebody.  I have close to fifty cousins, spread all over the country now but when I was growing up we all packed into my grandparents’ home on Sundays and holidays. My dad’s family was loud, raucous and fun.

There was a steady stream of one or more ma tante, mon uncle and a cousin or three visiting at the modest bungalow on Providence Street in Chicopee. A big pot of something simmering on the stove top always at the ready. A favorite of mine was Mémère’s soupe aux pois, a creamy yellow pea soup she made anytime she served ham to the holiday hordes of children and grandchildren.

This year at our house, Farmer Paul glazed the perfect Easter ham. That ham bone was way too inviting not to cook up a crockpot of Mémère’s creamy soup. This is one of several recipes my grandmother used to make her pea soup.  Like most good cooks, she liked to mix it up - even when she made an old favorite.

Next time you have a good ham bone, don’t waste it!

Mémère’s Soupe Aux Pois
1 pound package yellow split peas
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1 clove garlic, grated
2 carrots, chopped or grated
1 meaty ham bone
1/2 teaspoon dried summer savory (or marjoram)
1 Bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 celery stalk, grated or chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Rinse split peas in a medium bowl with cold water. Drain and place peas in a 4 quart or larger slow cooker.  Add remaining ingredients.

Cover and cook for 5 hours on High or 7 hours on Low.  Remove ham bone, remove and chop about 1/2 cup of the meat and return chopped meat to cooker. Continue to cook an additional 25-30 minutes. Serve with fresh ground pepper, a sprinkle of parsley and a crusty batard or, if you have enough ham leftover, a tasty ham and pickle salad sandwich.

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