Slowcooker Split Pea Soup

The ultimate comfort food!
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Slowcooker Split Pea Soup Yum
Once a cherished and hearty repast, split pea soup seems to have fallen from grace. Displaced by a myriad of exotic competitors, its presence in restaurants or in home kitchens is no longer common.

I've decided to bring it back, and this is the recipe that can get it done.

The two biggest factors here are the quality of the smoked ham, and the flavor and texture of the home-made chicken stock.

No home-made chicken stock handy? No problem. There may be no reasonable alternatives available in the grocery store, that doesn't mean you have to settle on water. Instead buy the best boxed or canned chicken stock you can find (this is not a good purchase to scrimp on), and bloom in some flavorless powdered gelatin (google it). About 1 tsp per cup (4 tsp/qt) is fine. It's cheap, simple and effective.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
  1. Dice any meat chunks that are bigger than you want in your bowl.
  2. Rinse the peas thoroughly in a colander. Check carefully for foreign objects.
  3. Unless the stock is already salted, dissolve the seasoned salt into the stock and set aside.
  4. Layer ingredients (except parsley) in slow cooker IN THE ORDER LISTED in the ingredient list (important!).
  5. Pour stock over the whole thing. If choosing the longer cook at the lower temp setting, consider heating up the stock first — which will reduce the time the ingredients spend below cooking temp, and should knock an hour off the cook time.
  6. Cover and cook on high 4 to 5 hours, or on low 8 to 10 hours. DO NOT STIR FOR THE FIRST 2 HOURS.
  7. After two hours, stir to mix the ingredients. From then on mix once an hour. When mixing, if you have a full cooker, to avoid a mess it is best to remove the hocks, mix, then nestle the hocks back deeply into the soup. The last couple of hours you must be gentle with them so they don't fall apart and get small bone bits in the soup (you could first encase them in muslin bags to avoid that risk). If inconvenient to stir hourly it's not a big deal — but the first mix around the 2-hour mark, and the final mix after the parsley is added are quite important.
  8. Gently remove the hocks and set aside to cool. They will be fall-apart loose. I use tongs in one hand to hold them, and a big kitchen spoon or something underneath to support the weight and hold them together while removing. From this point forward, keep an eye out for the bay leaves. Whenever you see one pluck it out and discard it.
  9. Stir in the parsley, wait ≈ 15 minutes then unplug the cooker.
  10. When the hocks have cooled just enough to handle, hand-pull them to separate the meat. Discard everything but the meat. Dice or shred the meat and mix it back into the pot. Discard everything else.
  11. The soup looks a little thin at first, but have faith. It thickens A LOT as it cools, and has great body. Unless you already got them all, poke around to find and remove any remaining bay leaves.
  12. Serve garnished with croutons, or maybe some hearty tearing-bread on the side. Store-bought croutons can be pretty good, but if you're feeling adventurous...
Recipe Notes

A batch and a half should fit nicely into a large slow-cooker.

Freezes great, either in ziplock bags with the air expelled, or in "freezer safe" canning jars. Leave an inch of headspace for expansion.

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