For years, my family has been stopping by Heavenly Ham in Mercer Mall to pick up ham bones. We love split pea soup, and the humongous bones sold from the freezer case here (for a mere $5.99, the last time I went) have so much meat left on them that you’ll have a bonus of several sandwiches, in addition to your pot of soup.
Of course, you can get the whole, er, hog, or make that ham, too, along with condiments and other gourmet goodies that go well with Heavenly Ham. I like their ham because it’s not as salty as some, and the visit is made quite pleasant thanks to the enthusiastic franchise owner, Maria Jordan.
I par-boil the bone, with the meat clinging to it, for just a few minutes, then drain off that water and add fresh water or chicken broth (low-sodium of course), when I make split pea soup. Then I simmer the bone with mirepoix (chopped celery, carrot, and onion), a bay leaf, and a few peppercorns and cloves. If I weren’t so lazy, I’d put all the hard spices in a little cheesecloth or spice bag, but I usually just pluck out the bay leaf and cloves as I pick the meat off the bones at the end. The peppercorns get soft enough to eat.
I cook the bone and vegetables for about 45 minutes, then add the peas and cook maybe another 45 minutes, or until they break down easily when stirred. I don’t purée. Then, I pull out the bone and pieces of cartilidge, clean them off in a shallow dish, and return the meat to the pot.
I like split pea soup with peppery croutons or maybe one of the good cheese rolls sold individually in Wegmans bakery department; if you look at the top right corner of the photo here, you can see part of one of those rolls.