Split peas rank up there as one of the heroes of the health-food world, boasting deep reserves of fiber, B vitamins, and dozens of other vital nutrients.But despite their reputation as a straightlaced superfood, something magical happens to split peas when combined with a bit of smoky ham and a long, slow simmer. Slowly they begin to break down, commingling with the ham and the other vegetables to create a thick, creamy broth that could warm even the most frigid soul on a long winter day.


Makes 6 servings

1 tsp olive oil
2 ribs celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 cups water or low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 smoked ham hock
1 cup split peas
2 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper to taste
Tabasco to taste (optional)

Per serving:
300 calories
3.5 g fat (1 g saturated)
780 mg sodium



Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, carrots, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add the water or stock, the potatoes, ham hock, split peas, and bay leaves. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the peas have turned very soft and begin to lose their shape, leaving you with a thick soup. (Thin out with more water or stock if you prefer a thinner consistency.)


Remove the ham hock, shred the meat clinging to the bone, and add back to the soup. Discard the bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper, plus a few shakes of Tabasco, if you like.

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