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Swedish Split Pea Soup with Ham

April 7, 2010

I have a penchant for Swedish food. This is not something I’ve known about for a long time, but because Swedish and Japanese food are so similar (It sounds strange, but it’s true.), it does make sense.

Last Easter, in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, I purchased a Swedish cookbook. This was part of the inspiration for my family’s Swedish julbord this past Christmas.

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The book itself (subtitled Recipes and Reminiscences by Judith Pierce Rosenberg) is full of great recipes and personal stories in need of a good editor. However, every recipe I’ve tried has been fairly simple and very yummy.

This particular soup recipe was especially exciting to me because I was able to make it with Michigan ingredients. I purchase Michigan-grown beans and legumes at Horrock’s in Grand Rapids and buy half a pig from Our Farm and Dairy in St. John Michigan. Of course the recipe only calls for one slice of ham, but if you live in Michigan, Our Farm is a great source for wonderful, sustainably raised (and happy) pork products.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Ham

1 T. butter or other fat (honestly, I used bacon fat)

1/4 C. finely chopped yellow or white onion

1/2 C. chopped carrots

1 thick slice of ham (about 4-8 oz.) chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (If there is a bone in the ham, leave it in. It makes the soup more flavorful. Just remember to take it out before serving.)

1 lb. yellow split peas

1 t. salt

1/2 t. ground white pepper

1 t. fresh rosemary or 1/2 t. dried (I used a rosemary spice mixture I had hanging around in the cupboard.)

Melt the butter or other fat in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, and ham. Saute for a few minutes, until the onion becomes soft and translucent.

Add the split peas and enough water to cover two inches above the surface of the peas (about 6 cups). Add the pepper and herbs. Bring to a boil and skim any foam from the surface. Lower the heat and simmer at least 45 minutes, adding more water if necessary, until the peas are tender and the texture is to your liking. The longer you cook the soup, the softer the peas will be (but I like them that way.)

Before serving, taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt.

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