Best Kept Secret

Split pea soupFor 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.

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One thought on “Best Kept Secret

  1. Dear Faith,

    I’m delighted to see you sharing our split pea soup secret with the world! Sometimes, those generous bones are also sold buy-one-get-one-free – and they seem to lose none of that sweet/peppery flavor in the freezer.

    I have actually wrapped them as birthday gifts, and taken them to friends who cannot get there to collect bones – odd phrase – because they live elsewhere or work too late. People like our Marilyn Schmidt of Buzby’s General Store in the Pine Barrens. She was as excited with those bones as with that gorgeous pie you brought to her from your favorite Pinelands Pie place.

    Heavenly Ham bones make superb bean soup, too. And I have a package from them for potato soup that I’ll be trying soon. My Chicago sister feels very deprived because she can’t get HH bones in her town! I nearly put one in my luggage – but then thought about O’Hare and lost suitcases and cancelled flights…

    Thanks, as always, for the liveliness of your posts, Faith. They bring me to life after long days.

    Best in all ways!

    Carolyn

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